The Jargon File - Version 4.2.2

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Title: The New Hacker's Dictionary version 4.2.2

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   Node:Top, Next:[2]Introduction, Previous:[3](dir), Up:[4](dir)
#======= THIS IS THE JARGON FILE, VERSION 4.2.2, 20 AUG 2000 =======#

   This is the Jargon File, a comprehensive compendium of hacker slang
   illuminating many aspects of hackish tradition, folklore, and humor.
   This document (the Jargon File) is in the public domain, to be freely
   used, shared, and modified. There are (by intention) no legal
   restraints on what you can do with it, but there are traditions about
   its proper use to which many hackers are quite strongly attached.
   Please extend the courtesy of proper citation when you quote the File,
   ideally with a version number, as it will change and grow over time.
   (Examples of appropriate citation form: "Jargon File 4.2.2" or "The
   on-line hacker Jargon File, version 4.2.2, 20 AUG 2000".)
   The Jargon File is a common heritage of the hacker culture. Over the
   years a number of individuals have volunteered considerable time to
   maintaining the File and been recognized by the net at large as
   editors of it. Editorial responsibilities include: to collate
   contributions and suggestions from others; to seek out corroborating
   information; to cross-reference related entries; to keep the file in a
   consistent format; and to announce and distribute updated versions
   periodically. Current volunteer editors include:
   Eric Raymond [5][email protected]
   Although there is no requirement that you do so, it is considered good
   form to check with an editor before quoting the File in a published
   work or commercial product. We may have additional information that
   would be helpful to you and can assist you in framing your quote to
   reflect not only the letter of the File but its spirit as well.
   All contributions and suggestions about this file sent to a volunteer
   editor are gratefully received and will be regarded, unless otherwise
   labelled, as freely given donations for possible use as part of this
   public-domain file.
   From time to time a snapshot of this file has been polished, edited,
   and formatted for commercial publication with the cooperation of the
   volunteer editors and the hacker community at large. If you wish to
   have a bound paper copy of this file, you may find it convenient to
   purchase one of these. They often contain additional material not
   found in on-line versions. The two `authorized' editions so far are
   described in the Revision History section; there may be more in the
     * [6]Introduction: The purpose and scope of this File
     * [7]A Few Terms: Of Slang, Jargon and Techspeak
     * [8]Revision History: How the File came to be
     * [9]Jargon Construction: How hackers invent jargon
     * [10]Hacker Writing Style: How they write
     * [11]Email Quotes: And the Inclusion Problem
     * [12]Hacker Speech Style: How hackers talk
     * [13]International Style: Some notes on usage outside the U.S.
     * [14]Lamer-speak: Crackers, Phreaks, and Lamers
     * [15]Pronunciation Guide: How to read the pronunciation keys
     * [16]Other Lexicon Conventions: How to read lexicon entries
     * [17]Format for New Entries: How to submit new entries for the File
     * [18]The Jargon Lexicon: The lexicon itself
     * [19]Appendix A: Hacker Folklore
     * [20]Appendix B: A Portrait of J. Random Hacker
     * [21]Appendix C: Helping Hacker Culture Grow
     * [22]Bibliography: For your further enjoyment
   Node:Introduction, Next:[23]A Few Terms, Previous:[24]Top, Up:[25]Top
   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 technical debate.
   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 40 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.
   Also as usual, not knowing the slang (or using it inappropriately)
   defines one as an outsider, a mundane, or (worst of all in hackish
   vocabulary) possibly even a [26]suit. All human cultures use slang in
   this threefold way -- as a tool of communication, and of inclusion,
   and of exclusion.
   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 `trompe l'oeil'
   compositions (Escher is a favorite of hackers), and hacker slang
   encodes these subtleties in many unobvious ways. As a simple example,
   take the distinction between a [27]kluge and an [28]elegant solution,
   and the differing connotations attached to each. 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.
   But there is more. Hackers, as a rule, love wordplay and are very
   conscious and inventive in their use of language. These traits seem to
   be common in young children, but the conformity-enforcing machine we
   are pleased to call an educational system bludgeons them out of most
   of us before adolescence. Thus, linguistic invention in most
   subcultures of the modern West is a halting and largely unconscious
   process. Hackers, by contrast, regard slang formation and use as a
   game to be played for conscious pleasure. Their inventions thus
   display an almost unique combination of the neotenous enjoyment of
   language-play with the discrimination of educated and powerful
   intelligence. Further, the electronic media which knit them together
   are fluid, `hot' connections, well adapted to both the dissemination
   of new slang and the ruthless culling of weak and superannuated
   specimens. The results of this process give us perhaps a uniquely
   intense and accelerated view of linguistic evolution in action.
   Hacker slang also challenges some common linguistic and
   anthropological assumptions. For example, it has recently become
   fashionable to speak of `low-context' versus `high-context'
   communication, and to classify cultures by the preferred context level
   of their languages and art forms. It is usually claimed that
   low-context communication (characterized by precision, clarity, and
   completeness of self-contained utterances) is typical in cultures
   which value logic, objectivity, individualism, and competition; by
   contrast, high-context communication (elliptical, emotive,
   nuance-filled, multi-modal, heavily coded) is associated with cultures
   which value subjectivity, consensus, cooperation, and tradition. What
   then are we to make of hackerdom, which is themed around extremely
   low-context interaction with computers and exhibits primarily
   "low-context" values, but cultivates an almost absurdly high-context
   slang style?
   The intensity and consciousness of hackish invention make a
   compilation of hacker slang a particularly effective window into the
   surrounding culture -- and, in fact, this one is the latest version of
   an evolving compilation called the `Jargon File', maintained by
   hackers themselves for over 15 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 slang definitions.
   Though the format is that of a reference volume, it is intended that
   the material be enjoyable to browse. 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 wordplay to make strong, sometimes combative statements about
   what they feel. Some of these entries reflect the views of opposing
   sides in disputes that 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 is included
   in [29]Appendix A. The `outside' reader's attention is particularly
   directed to the Portrait of J. Random Hacker in [30]Appendix B.
   Appendix C, the [31]Bibliography, lists some non-technical works which
   have either influenced or described the hacker culture.
   Because hackerdom is an intentional culture (one each individual must
   choose by action to join), one should not be surprised that the line
   between description and influence can become more than a little
   blurred. Earlier versions of the Jargon File 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.
   Node:A Few Terms, Next:[32]Revision History,
   Previous:[33]Introduction, Up:[34]Top
Of Slang, Jargon, and Techspeak

   Linguists usually refer to informal language as `slang' and reserve
   the term `jargon' for the technical vocabularies of various
   occupations. However, the ancestor of this collection was called the
   `Jargon File', and hacker slang is traditionally `the jargon'. When
   talking about the jargon there is therefore no convenient way to
   distinguish it from what a linguist would call hackers' jargon -- the
   formal vocabulary they learn from textbooks, technical papers, and
   To make a confused situation worse, the line between hacker slang and
   the vocabulary of technical programming and computer science is fuzzy,
   and shifts over time. Further, this vocabulary is shared with a wider
   technical culture of programmers, many of whom are not hackers and do
   not speak or recognize hackish slang.
   Accordingly, this lexicon will try to be as precise as the facts of
   usage permit about the distinctions among three categories:
     * `slang': informal language from mainstream English or
       non-technical subcultures (bikers, rock fans, surfers, etc).
     * `jargon': without qualifier, denotes informal `slangy' language
       peculiar to or predominantly found among hackers -- the subject of
       this lexicon.
     * `techspeak': the formal technical vocabulary of programming,
       computer science, electronics, and other fields connected to
   This terminology will be consistently used throughout the remainder of
   this lexicon.
   The jargon/techspeak distinction is the delicate one. A lot of
   techspeak originated as jargon, and there is a steady continuing
   uptake of jargon into techspeak. On the other hand, a lot of jargon
   arises from overgeneralization of techspeak terms (there is more about
   this in the [35]Jargon Construction section below).
   In general, we have considered techspeak any term that communicates
   primarily by a denotation well established in textbooks, technical
   dictionaries, or standards documents.
   A few obviously techspeak terms (names of operating systems,
   languages, or documents) are listed when they are tied to hacker
   folklore that isn't covered in formal sources, or sometimes to convey
   critical historical background necessary to understand other entries
   to which they are cross-referenced. Some other techspeak senses of
   jargon words are listed in order to make the jargon senses clear;
   where the text does not specify that a straight technical sense is
   under discussion, these are marked with `[techspeak]' as an etymology.
   Some entries have a primary sense marked this way, with subsequent
   jargon meanings explained in terms of it.
   We have also tried to indicate (where known) the apparent origins of
   terms. The results are probably the least reliable information in the
   lexicon, for several reasons. For one thing, it is well known that
   many hackish usages have been independently reinvented multiple times,
   even among the more obscure and intricate neologisms. It often seems
   that the generative processes underlying hackish jargon formation have
   an internal logic so powerful as to create substantial parallelism
   across separate cultures and even in different languages! For another,
   the networks tend to propagate innovations so quickly that `first use'
   is often impossible to pin down. And, finally, compendia like this one
   alter what they observe by implicitly stamping cultural approval on
   terms and widening their use.
   Despite these problems, the organized collection of jargon-related
   oral history for the new compilations has enabled us to put to rest
   quite a number of folk etymologies, place credit where credit is due,
   and illuminate the early history of many important hackerisms such as
   [36]kluge, [37]cruft, and [38]foo. We believe specialist
   lexicographers will find many of the historical notes more than
   casually instructive.
   Node:Revision History, Next:[39]Jargon Construction, Previous:[40]A
   Few Terms, Up:[41]Top
Revision History

   The original Jargon File was a collection of hacker jargon from
   technical cultures including the MIT AI Lab, the Stanford AI lab
   (SAIL), and others of the old ARPANET AI/LISP/PDP-10 communities
   including Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN), 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. From this time until
   the plug was finally pulled on the SAIL computer in 1991, the File was
   named AIWORD.RF[UP,DOC] there. Some terms in it date back considerably
   earlier ([42]frob and some senses of [43]moby, for instance, go back
   to the Tech Model Railroad Club at MIT and 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, having seen an announcement about the File on
   the SAIL computer, [44]FTPed a copy of the File to MIT. He noticed
   that it was hardly restricted to `AI words' and so stored the file on
   his directory as AI:MRC;SAIL JARGON.
   The file was quickly renamed JARGON > (the `>' caused versioning under
   ITS) as a flurry of enhancements were made by Mark Crispin and Guy L.
   Steele Jr. Unfortunately, amidst all this activity, nobody thought of
   correcting the term `jargon' to `slang' until the compendium had
   already become widely known as the Jargon File.
   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
   The File expanded by fits and starts until about 1983; Richard
   Stallman was prominent among the contributors, adding many MIT and
   ITS-related coinages.
   In Spring 1981, a hacker named Charles Spurgeon got a large chunk of
   the File published in Stewart Brand's "CoEvolution Quarterly" (issue
   29, pages 26-35) with illustrations by Phil Wadler and Guy Steele
   (including a couple of the Crunchly cartoons). This appears to have
   been the File's first paper publication.
   A late version of jargon-1, expanded with commentary for the mass
   market, was edited by Guy 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 this revision, as did Richard M. Stallman and Geoff
   Goodfellow. This book (now out of print) is hereafter referred to as
   `Steele-1983' and those six as the Steele-1983 coauthors.
   Shortly after the publication of Steele-1983, the File effectively
   stopped growing and changing. Originally, this was due to a desire to
   freeze the file temporarily to facilitate the production of
   Steele-1983, but external conditions caused the `temporary' freeze to
   become permanent.
   The AI Lab culture had been hit hard in the late 1970s by funding cuts
   and the resulting administrative decision to use vendor-supported
   hardware and software instead of homebrew whenever possible. At MIT,
   most AI work had turned to dedicated LISP Machines. At the same time,
   the commercialization of AI technology lured some of the AI Lab's best
   and brightest away to startups along the Route 128 strip in
   Massachusetts and out West in Silicon Valley. The startups built LISP
   machines for MIT; the central MIT-AI computer became a [45]TWENEX
   system rather than a host for the AI hackers' beloved [46]ITS.
   The Stanford AI Lab had effectively ceased to exist by 1980, although
   the SAIL computer continued as a Computer Science Department resource
   until 1991. Stanford became a major [47]TWENEX site, at one point
   operating more than a dozen TOPS-20 systems; but by the mid-1980s most
   of the interesting software work was being done on the emerging BSD
   Unix standard.
   In April 1983, the PDP-10-centered cultures that had nourished the
   File were dealt a death-blow by the cancellation of the Jupiter
   project at Digital Equipment Corporation. The File's compilers,
   already dispersed, moved on to other things. Steele-1983 was partly a
   monument to what its authors thought was a dying tradition; no one
   involved realized at the time just how wide its influence was to be.
   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 and Stanford; the content exerted a strong and continuing
   influence on hacker language and humor. Even as the advent of the
   microcomputer and other trends fueled a tremendous expansion of
   hackerdom, the File (and related materials such as the [48]Some 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, having passed from
   living document to icon, remained essentially untouched for seven
   This revision contains nearly the entire text of a late version of
   jargon-1 (a few obsolete PDP-10-related entries were dropped after
   careful consultation with the editors of Steele-1983). It merges in
   about 80% of the Steele-1983 text, omitting some framing material and
   a very few entries introduced in Steele-1983 that are now also
   This new version casts a wider net than the old Jargon File; its aim
   is to cover not just AI or PDP-10 hacker culture but all the technical
   computing cultures wherein the true hacker-nature is manifested. More
   than half of the entries now derive from [49]Usenet and represent
   jargon now current in the C and Unix communities, but special efforts
   have been made to collect jargon from other cultures including IBM PC
   programmers, Amiga fans, Mac enthusiasts, and even the IBM mainframe
   Eric S. Raymond [50] maintains the new File
   with assistance from Guy L. Steele Jr. [51]; 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
   [52][email protected].
   (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.)
   The 2.9.6 version became the main text of "The New Hacker's
   Dictionary", by Eric Raymond (ed.), MIT Press 1991, ISBN
   The 3.0.0 version was published in September 1993 as the second
   edition of "The New Hacker's Dictionary", again from MIT Press (ISBN
   If you want the book, you should be able to find it at any of the
   major bookstore chains. Failing that, you can order by mail from
   The MIT Press 55 Hayward Street Cambridge, MA 02142
   or order by phone at (800)-356-0343 or (617)-625-8481.
   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 high points in the recent on-line
   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 jargon were added at that time.
   Version 2.9.6, Aug 16 1991: corresponds to reproduction copy for book.
   This version had 18952 lines, 148629 words, 975551 characters, and
   1702 entries.
   Version 2.9.7, Oct 28 1991: first markup for hypertext browser. This
   version had 19432 lines, 152132 words, 999595 characters, and 1750
   Version 2.9.8, Jan 01 1992: first public release since the book,
   including over fifty new entries and numerous corrections/additions to
   old ones. Packaged with version 1.1 of vh(1) hypertext reader. This
   version had 19509 lines, 153108 words, 1006023 characters, and 1760
   Version 2.9.9, Apr 01 1992: folded in XEROX PARC lexicon. This version
   had 20298 lines, 159651 words, 1048909 characters, and 1821 entries.
   Version 2.9.10, Jul 01 1992: lots of new historical material. This
   version had 21349 lines, 168330 words, 1106991 characters, and 1891
   Version 2.9.11, Jan 01 1993: lots of new historical material. This
   version had 21725 lines, 171169 words, 1125880 characters, and 1922
   Version 2.9.12, May 10 1993: a few new entries & changes, marginal
   MUD/IRC slang and some borderline techspeak removed, all in
   preparation for 2nd Edition of TNHD. This version had 22238 lines,
   175114 words, 1152467 characters, and 1946 entries.
   Version 3.0.0, Jul 27 1993: manuscript freeze for 2nd edition of TNHD.
   This version had 22548 lines, 177520 words, 1169372 characters, and
   1961 entries.
   Version 3.1.0, Oct 15 1994: interim release to test WWW conversion.
   This version had 23197 lines, 181001 words, 1193818 characters, and
   1990 entries.
   Version 3.2.0, Mar 15 1995: Spring 1995 update. This version had 23822
   lines, 185961 words, 1226358 characters, and 2031 entries.
   Version 3.3.0, Jan 20 1996: Winter 1996 update. This version had 24055
   lines, 187957 words, 1239604 characters, and 2045 entries.
   Version 3.3.1, Jan 25 1996: Copy-corrected improvement on 3.3.0
   shipped to MIT Press as a step towards TNHD III. This version had
   24147 lines, 188728 words, 1244554 characters, and 2050 entries.
   Version 3.3.2, Mar 20 1996: A number of new entries pursuant on 3.3.2.
   This version had 24442 lines, 190867 words, 1262468 characters, and
   2061 entries.
   Version 3.3.3, Mar 25 1996: Cleanup before TNHD III manuscript freeze.
   This version had 24584 lines, 191932 words, 1269996 characters, and
   2064 entries.
   Version 4.0.0, Jul 25 1996: The actual TNHD III version after
   copy-edit. This version had 24801 lines, 193697 words, 1281402
   characters, and 2067 entries.
   Version 4.1.0, 8 Apr 1999: The Jargon File rides again after three
   years. This version had 25777 lines, 206825 words, 1359992 characters,
   and 2217 entries.
   Version 4.1.1, 18 Apr 1999: Corrections for minor errors in 4.1.0, and
   some new entries. This version had 25921 lines, 208483 words, 1371279
   characters, and 2225 entries.
   Version 4.1.2, 28 Apr 1999: Moving texi2html out of the production
   path. This version had 26006 lines, 209479 words, 1377687 characters,
   and 2225 entries.
   Version 4.1.3, 14 Jun 1999: Minor updates and markup fixes. This
   version had 26108 lines, 210480 words, 1384546 characters, and 2234
   Version 4.1.4, 17 Jun 1999: Markup fixes for framed HTML. This version
   had 26117 lines, 210527 words, 1384902 characters, and 2234 entries.
   Version 4.2.0, 31 Jan 2000: Fix processing of URLs. This version had
   26598 lines, 214639 words, 1412243 characters, and 2267 entries.
   Version 4.2.1, 5 Mar 2000: Point release to test new production
   machinery. This version had 26647 lines, 215040 words, 1414942
   characters, and 2269 entries.
   Version 4.2.2, 12 Aug 2000: This version had 27171 lines, 219630
   words, 1444887 characters, and 2302 entries.
   Version numbering: Version numbers should be read 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 L. Steele, Jr.)
   leading up to and including the second paper edition. From now on,
   major version number N.00 will probably correspond to the Nth paper
   edition. Usually 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 coauthors of Steele-1983 for oversight and
   assistance, and to the hundreds of Usenetters (too many to name here)
   who contributed entries and encouragement. More thanks go to several
   of the old-timers on the Usenet group alt.folklore.computers, who
   contributed much useful commentary and many corrections and valuable
   historical perspective: Joseph M. Newcomer [53],
   Bernie Cosell [54], Earl Boebert
   [55], and Joe Morris
   We were fortunate enough to have the aid of some accomplished
   linguists. David Stampe [57] and Charles Hoequist
   [58] contributed valuable criticism; Joe Keane
   [59] helped us improve the pronunciation guides.
   A few bits of this text quote previous works. We are indebted to Brian
   A. LaMacchia [60] for obtaining permission for
   us to use material from the "TMRC Dictionary"; also, Don Libes
   [61] contributed some appropriate material from
   his excellent book "Life With UNIX". We thank Per Lindberg
   [62], 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. Thanks also to Maarten Litmaath for generously allowing the
   inclusion of the ASCII pronunciation guide he formerly maintained. And
   our gratitude to Marc Weiser of XEROX PARC
   [63] for securing us permission to quote
   from PARC's own jargon lexicon and shipping us a copy.
   It is a particular pleasure to acknowledge the major contributions of
   Mark Brader [64] and Steve Summit [65] to
   the File and Dictionary; they have read and reread many drafts,
   checked facts, caught typos, submitted an amazing number of thoughtful
   comments, and done yeoman service in catching typos and minor usage
   bobbles. Their rare combination of enthusiasm, persistence,
   wide-ranging technical knowledge, and precisionism in matters of
   language has been of invaluable help. Indeed, the sustained volume and
   quality of Mr. Brader's input over several years and several different
   editions has only allowed him to escape co-editor credit by the
   slimmest of margins.
   Finally, George V. Reilly [66] helped with TeX
   arcana and painstakingly proofread some 2.7 and 2.8 versions, and Eric
   Tiedemann [67] contributed sage advice throughout on
   rhetoric, amphigory, and philosophunculism.
   Node:Jargon Construction, Next:[68]Hacker Writing Style,
   Previous:[69]Revision History, Up:[70]Top
                               How Jargon Works
Jargon Construction

   There are some standard methods of jargonification that became
   established quite early (i.e., before 1970), spreading from such
   sources as the Tech Model Railroad Club, the PDP-1 SPACEWAR hackers,
   and John McCarthy's original crew of LISPers. These include verb
   doubling, soundalike slang, the `-P' convention, overgeneralization,
   spoken inarticulations, and anthropomorphization. Each is discussed
   below. We also cover the standard comparatives for design quality.
   Of these six, verb doubling, overgeneralization, anthropomorphization,
   and (especially) spoken inarticulations have become quite general; but
   soundalike slang is still largely confined to MIT and other large
   universities, and the `-P' convention is found only where LISPers
     * [71]Verb Doubling: Doubling a verb may change its semantics
     * [72]Soundalike Slang: Punning jargon
     * [73]The -P convention: A LISPy way to form questions
     * [74]Overgeneralization: Standard abuses of grammar
     * [75]Spoken Inarticulations: Sighing and <*sigh*>ing
     * [76]Anthropomorphization: Homunculi, daemons, and confused
     * [77]Comparatives: Standard comparatives for design quality
   Node:Verb Doubling, Next:[78]Soundalike Slang, Up:[79]Jargon
  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 [80]win, [81]lose, [82]hack,
   [83]flame, [84]barf, [85]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.
   The [86]Usenet culture has one tripling convention unrelated to this;
   the names of `joke' topic groups often have a tripled last element.
   The first and paradigmatic example was alt.swedish.chef.bork.bork.bork
   (a "Muppet Show" reference); other infamous examples have included:
   Node:Soundalike Slang, Next:[87]The -P convention, Previous:[88]Verb
   Doubling, Up:[89]Jargon Construction
  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 [90]flavorful if the phrase is bent so as to include some
   other jargon 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 => Horrid (or Harried)
    Boston Globe => Boston Glob
    Houston (or San Francisco) Chronicle
           => the Crocknicle (or the Comical)
    New York Times => New York Slime
    Wall Street Journal => Wall Street Urinal

   However, terms like these are often made up on the spur of the moment.
   Standard examples include:
    Data General => Dirty Genitals
    IBM 360 => IBM Three-Sickly
    Government Property --- Do Not Duplicate (on keys)
            => Government Duplicity --- Do Not Propagate
    for historical reasons => for hysterical raisins
    Margaret Jacks Hall (the CS building at Stanford)
            => Marginal Hacks Hall
    Microsoft => Microsloth
    Internet Explorer => Internet Exploiter

   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 punning jargon is intentionally transparent.
   Node:The -P convention, Next:[91]Overgeneralization,
   Previous:[92]Soundalike Slang, Up:[93]Jargon Construction
  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 [94]T and [95]NIL.)
    At dinnertime:

          Q: ``Foodp?''

          A: ``Yeah, I'm pretty hungry.'' or ``T!''

    At any time:

          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 [96]Gosperism. Once, when we were at a
   Chinese restaurant, Bill Gosper 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]
   Node:Overgeneralization, Next:[97]Spoken Inarticulations,
   Previous:[98]The -P convention, Up:[99]Jargon Construction
   A very conspicuous feature of jargon is the frequency with which
   techspeak items such as 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 [100]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
   Another class of common construction uses the suffix `-itude' to
   abstract a quality from just about any adjective or noun. This usage
   arises especially in cases where mainstream English would perform the
   same abstraction through `-iness' or `-ingness'. Thus:
     win => winnitude (a common exclamation)
     loss => lossitude
     cruft => cruftitude
     lame => lameitude
   Some hackers cheerfully reverse this transformation; they argue, for
   example, that the horizontal degree lines on a globe ought to be
   called `lats' -- after all, they're measuring latitude!
   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.
   The suffix "-full" can also be applied in generalized and fanciful
   ways, as in "As soon as you have more than one cachefull of data, the
   system starts thrashing," or "As soon as I have more than one headfull
   of ideas, I start writing it all down." A common use is "screenfull",
   meaning the amount of text that will fit on one screen, usually in
   text mode where you have no choice as to character size. Another
   common form is "bufferfull".
   However, hackers avoid the unimaginative verb-making techniques
   characteristic of marketroids, bean-counters, and the Pentagon; a
   hacker would never, for example, `productize', `prioritize', or
   `securitize' things. Hackers have a strong aversion to bureaucratic
   bafflegab and regard those who use it with contempt.
   Similarly, all verbs can be nouned. This is only a slight
   overgeneralization in modern English; in hackish, however, it is good
   form to mark them in some standard nonstandard way. Thus:
     win => winnitude, winnage
     disgust => disgustitude
     hack => hackification
   Further, note the prevalence of certain kinds of nonstandard plural
   forms. Some of these go back quite a ways; the TMRC Dictionary
   includes an entry which implies that the plural of `mouse' is
   [101]meeces, and notes that the defined plural of `caboose' is
   `cabeese'. This latter has apparently been standard (or at least a
   standard joke) among railfans (railroad enthusiasts) for many years.
   On a similarly Anglo-Saxon note, almost anything ending in `x' may
   form plurals in `-xen' (see [102]VAXen and [103]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 `frobbozz' (see [104]frobnitz) and
   `Unices' and `Twenices' (rather than `Unixes' and `Twenexes'; see
   [105]Unix, [106]TWENEX in main text). But note that `Twenexen' was
   never used, and `Unixen' was not sighted in the wild until the year
   2000, thirty years after it might logically have come into use; it has
   been suggested that this is because `-ix' and `-ex' are Latin singular
   endings that attract a Latinate plural. Finally, it has been suggested
   to general approval that the plural of `mongoose' ought to be
   The pattern here, as with other hackish grammatical quirks, is
   generalization of an inflectional rule that in English is either an
   import or a fossil (such as the Hebrew plural ending `-im', or the
   Anglo-Saxon plural suffix `-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. It is done not to
   impress but to amuse, and never at the expense of clarity.
   Node:Spoken Inarticulations, Next:[107]Anthropomorphization,
   Previous:[108]Overgeneralization, Up:[109]Jargon Construction
  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 electronic mail, MUDs, and IRC channels
   (interestingly, the same sorts of constructions have been showing up
   with increasing frequency in comic strips). Another expression
   sometimes heard is "Complain!", meaning "I have a complaint!"
   Node:Anthropomorphization, Next:[110]Comparatives,
   Previous:[111]Spoken Inarticulations, Up:[112]Jargon Construction
   Semantically, one rich source of jargon constructions is the hackish
   tendency to anthropomorphize hardware and software. English purists
   and academic computer scientists frequently look down on others for
   anthropomorphizing hardware and software, considering this sort of
   behavior to be characteristic of naive misunderstanding. But most
   hackers anthropomorphize freely, frequently describing program
   behavior in terms of wants and desires.
   Thus it is common to hear hardware or software talked about as though
   it has homunculi talking to each other inside it, with intentions and
   desires. Thus, one hears "The protocol handler got confused", or that
   programs "are trying" to do things, or one may say of a routine that
   "its goal in life is to X". One even hears explanations like "... and
   its poor little brain couldn't understand X, and it died." Sometimes
   modelling things this way actually seems to make them easier to
   understand, perhaps because it's instinctively natural to think of
   anything with a really complex behavioral repertoire as `like a
   person' rather than `like a thing'.
   At first glance, to anyone who understands how these programs actually
   work, this seems like an absurdity. As hackers are among the people
   who know best how these phenomena work, it seems odd that they would
   use language that seemds to ascribe conciousness to them. The mind-set
   behind this tendency thus demands examination.
   The key to understanding this kind of usage is that it isn't done in a
   naive way; hackers don't personalize their stuff in the sense of
   feeling empathy with it, nor do they mystically believe that the
   things they work on every day are `alive'. To the contrary: hackers
   who anthropomorphize are expressing not a vitalistic view of program
   behavior but a mechanistic view of human behavior.
   Almost all hackers subscribe to the mechanistic, materialistic
   ontology of science (this is in practice true even of most of the
   minority with contrary religious theories). In this view, people are
   biological machines - consciousness is an interesting and valuable
   epiphenomenon, but mind is implemented in machinery which is not
   fundamentally different in information-processing capacity from
   Hackers tend to take this a step further and argue that the difference
   between a substrate of CHON atoms and water and a substrate of silicon
   and metal is a relatively unimportant one; what matters, what makes a
   thing `alive', is information and richness of pattern. This is animism
   from the flip side; it implies that humans and computers and dolphins
   and rocks are all machines exhibiting a continuum of modes of
   `consciousness' according to their information-processing capacity.
   Because hackers accept a that a human machine can have intentions, it
   is therefore easy for them to ascribe consciousness and intention to
   complex patterned systems such as computers. If consciousness is
   mechanical, it is neither more or less absurd to say that "The program
   wants to go into an infinite loop" than it is to say that "I want to
   go eat some chocolate" - and even defensible to say that "The stone,
   once dropped, wants to move towards the center of the earth".
   This viewpoint has respectable company in academic philosophy. Daniel
   Dennett organizes explanations of behavior using three stances: the
   "physical stance" (thing-to-be-explained as a physical object), the
   "design stance" (thing-to-be-explained as an artifact), and the
   "intentional stance" (thing-to-be-explained as an agent with desires
   and intentions). Which stances are appropriate is a matter not of
   truth but of utility. Hackers typically view simple programs from the
   design stance, but more complex ones are modelled using the
   intentional stance.
   Node:Comparatives, Previous:[113]Anthropomorphization, Up:[114]Jargon
   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. Another similar scale is used for describing the
   reliability of software:
     broken flaky dodgy fragile brittle
     solid robust bulletproof armor-plated
   Note, however, that `dodgy' is primarily Commonwealth Hackish (it is
   rare in the U.S.) and may change places with `flaky' for some
   Coinages for describing [115]lossage seem to call forth the very
   finest in hackish linguistic inventiveness; it has been truly said
   that hackers have even more words for equipment failures than Yiddish
   has for obnoxious people.
   Node:Hacker Writing Style, Next:[116]Email Quotes,
   Previous:[117]Jargon Construction, Up:[118]Top
Hacker Writing Style

   We've already seen that hackers often coin jargon by overgeneralizing
   grammatical rules. This is one aspect of a more general fondness for
   form-versus-content language jokes that shows up particularly in
   hackish writing. One correspondent reports that he consistently
   misspells `wrong' as `worng'. Others have been known to criticize
   glitches in Jargon File drafts by observing (in the mode of Douglas
   Hofstadter) "This sentence no verb", or "Too repetetetive", or "Bad
   speling", or "Incorrectspa cing." Similarly, intentional spoonerisms
   are often made of phrases relating to confusion or things that are
   confusing; `dain bramage' for `brain damage' is perhaps the most
   common (similarly, a hacker would be likely to write "Excuse me, I'm
   cixelsyd today", rather than "I'm dyslexic today"). This sort of thing
   is quite common and is enjoyed by all concerned.
   Hackers tend to use quotes as balanced delimiters like parentheses,
   much to the dismay of American editors. Thus, if "Jim is going" is a
   phrase, and so are "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); however, 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 discussions of
   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.
   Consider, for example, a sentence in a [119]vi tutorial that looks
   like this:
     Then delete a line from the file by typing "dd".
   Standard usage would make this
     Then delete a line from the file by typing "dd."
   but that would be very bad -- because the reader would be prone to
   type the string d-d-dot, and it happens that in vi(1) dot repeats the
   last command accepted. The net result would be to delete two lines!
   The Jargon File follows hackish usage 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' quoting. This returns British English to the
   style Latin languages (including Spanish, French, Italian, Catalan)
   have been using all along.
   Another hacker habit 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 indiscriminately
   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 (single quotes) 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 the apostrophe in
   typewriter style, as a vertical single quote).
   One quirk that shows up frequently in the [120]email style of Unix
   hackers in particular is a tendency for some things that 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 [121]lossage). A way of escaping this
   dilemma is simply to avoid using these constructions at the beginning
   of sentences.
   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 jargon is a
   substantial part of its humor!
   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 [122]talk mode may be asked to "stop
   shouting, please, you're hurting my ears!".
   Also, it is common to use bracketing with unusual characters to
   signify emphasis. The asterisk is most common, as in "What the
   *hell*?" even though this interferes with the common use of the
   asterisk suffix as a footnote mark. The underscore is also common,
   suggesting underlining (this is particularly common with book titles;
   for example, "It is often alleged that Joe Haldeman wrote
   _The_Forever_War_ as a rebuttal to Robert Heinlein's earlier novel of
   the future military, _Starship_Troopers_."). Other forms exemplified
   by "=hell=", "\hell/", or "/hell/" are occasionally seen (it's claimed
   that in the last example the first slash pushes the letters over to
   the right to make them italic, and the second keeps them from falling
   over). On FidoNet, you might see #bright# and ^dark^ text, which was
   actually interpreted by some reader software. Finally, words may also
   be emphasized L I K E T H I S, or by a series of carets (^) under them
   on the next line of the text.
   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 a mentally impaired person). Bracketing a word
   with the `*' character may also indicate that the writer wishes
   readers to consider that an action is taking place or that a sound is
   being made. Examples: *bang*, *hic*, *ring*, *grin*, *kick*, *stomp*,
   One might also see the above sound effects as , , ,
   , , , . This use of angle brackets to mark
   their contents originally derives from conventions used in [123]BNF,
   but since about 1993 it has been reinforced by the HTML markup used on
   the World Wide Web.
   Angle-bracket enclosure is also used to indicate that a term stands
   for some [124]random member of a larger class (this is straight from
   [125]BNF). Examples like the following are common:
So this  walks into a bar one day...

   There is also an accepted convention for `writing under erasure'; the
Be nice to this fool^H^H^H^Hgentleman,
he's visiting from corporate HQ.

   reads roughly as "Be nice to this fool, er, gentleman...", with irony
   emphasized. The digraph ^H is often used as a print representation for
   a backspace, and was actually very visible on old-style printing
   terminals. As the text was being composed the characters would be
   echoed and printed immediately, and when a correction was made the
   backspace keystrokes would be echoed with the string '^H'. Of course,
   the final composed text would have no trace of the backspace
   characters (or the original erroneous text).
   This convention parallels (and may have been influenced by) the ironic
   use of `slashouts' in science-fiction fanzines.
   A related habit uses editor commands to signify corrections to
   previous text. This custom faded in email as more mailers got good
   editing capabilities, only to tale on new life on IRCs and other
   line-based chat systems.
I've seen that term used on alt.foobar often.
Send it to Erik for the File.

   The s/Erik/Eric/ says "change Erik to Eric in the preceding". This
   syntax is borrowed from the Unix editing tools ed and sed, but is
   widely recognized by non-Unix hackers as well.
   In a formula, * signifies multiplication but 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 the caret; this was picked up by Kemeny and Kurtz's
   original BASIC, which in turn influenced the design of the bc(1) and
   dc(1) Unix tools, which have probably done most to reinforce the
   convention on Usenet. (TeX math mode also uses ^ for exponention.) The
   notation is mildly confusing to C programmers, because ^ means bitwise
   exclusive-or in C. Despite this, it was favored 3:1 over ** in a
   late-1990 snapshot of Usenet. It is used consistently in this lexicon.
   In on-line exchanges, hackers tend to use decimal forms or improper
   fractions (`3.5' or `7/2') rather than `typewriter style' mixed
   fractions (`3-1/2'). The major motive here is probably that the former
   are more readable in a monospaced font, together with a desire to
   avoid the risk that the latter might be read as `three minus
   one-half'. The decimal form is definitely preferred for fractions with
   a terminating decimal representation; there may be some cultural
   influence here from the high status of scientific notation.
   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'.
   On Usenet and in the [126]MUD world, common C boolean, logical, and
   relational operators such as |, &, ||, &&, !, ==, !=, >, <, >=, and =<
   are often combined with English. The Pascal not-equals, <>, is also
   recognized, and occasionally one sees /= for not-equals (from Ada,
   Common Lisp, and Fortran 90). The use of prefix `!' as a loose synonym
   for `not-' or `no-' is particularly common; thus, `!clue' is read
   `no-clue' or `clueless'.
   A related practice borrows syntax from preferred programming languages
   to express ideas in a natural-language text. For example, one might
   see the following:
In  J. R. Hacker wrote:
>I recently had occasion to field-test the Snafu
>Systems 2300E adaptive gonkulator.  The price was
>right, and the racing stripe on the case looked
>kind of neat, but its performance left something
>to be desired.

Yeah, I tried one out too.

#ifdef FLAME
Hasn't anyone told those idiots that you can't get
decent bogon suppression with AFJ filters at today's
net volumes?
#endif /* FLAME */

I guess they figured the price premium for true
frame-based semantic analysis was too high.
Unfortunately, it's also the only workable approach.
I wouldn't recommend purchase of this product unless
you're on a *very* tight budget.

                 == Frank Foonly (Fubarco Systems)

   In the above, the #ifdef/#endif pair is a conditional compilation
   syntax from C; here, it implies that the text between (which is a
   [127]flame) should be evaluated only if you have turned on (or defined
   on) the switch FLAME. The #include at the end is C for "include
   standard disclaimer here"; the `standard disclaimer' is understood to
   read, roughly, "These are my personal opinions and not to be construed
   as the official position of my employer."
   The top section in the example, with > at the left margin, is an
   example of an inclusion convention we'll discuss below.
   More recently, following on the huge popularity of the World Wide Web,
   pseudo-HTML markup has become popular for similar purposes:

Your father was a hamster and your mother smelt of elderberries!

   You'll even see this with an HTML-style modifier:

You seem well-suited for a career in government.

   Another recent (late 1990s) construction now common on USENET seems to
   be borrowed from Perl. It consists of using a dollar sign before an
   uppercased form of a word or acronym to suggest any [128]random member
   of the class indicated by the word. Thus: `$PHB' means "any random
   member of the class `Pointy-Haired Boss'".
   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 prefer to write `1970s'
   rather than `nineteen-seventies' or `1970's' (the latter looks like a
   It should also be noted that hackers exhibit much less reluctance to
   use multiply-nested parentheses than is normal in English. Part of
   this is almost certainly due to influence from LISP (which uses deeply
   nested parentheses (like this (see?)) in its syntax a lot), 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.
   Finally, it is worth mentioning that many studies of on-line
   communication have shown that electronic links have a de-inhibiting
   effect on people. Deprived of the body-language cues through which
   emotional state is expressed, people tend to forget everything about
   other parties except what is presented over that ASCII link. This has
   both good and bad effects. A good one is that it encourages honesty
   and tends to break down hierarchical authority relationships; a bad
   one is that it may encourage depersonalization and gratuitous
   rudeness. Perhaps in response to this, experienced netters often
   display a sort of conscious formal politesse in their writing that has
   passed out of fashion in other spoken and written media (for example,
   the phrase "Well said, sir!" is not uncommon).
   Many introverted hackers who are next to inarticulate in person
   communicate with considerable fluency over the net, perhaps precisely
   because they can forget on an unconscious level that they are dealing
   with people and thus don't feel stressed and anxious as they would
   face to face.
   Though it is considered gauche to publicly criticize posters for poor
   spelling or grammar, the network places a premium on literacy and
   clarity of expression. It may well be that future historians of
   literature will see in it a revival of the great tradition of personal
   letters as art.
   Node:Email Quotes, Next:[129]Hacker Speech Style, Previous:[130]Hacker
   Writing Style, Up:[131]Top
Email Quotes and Inclusion Conventions

   One area where 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 a practice 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 owing to its use in ed(1) to display tabs
   (alternatively, it may derive from the > that some early Unix mailers
   used to quote lines starting with "From" in text, so they wouldn't
   look like the beginnings of new message headers). Inclusions within
   inclusions keep their > leaders, so the `nesting level' of a quotation
   is visually apparent.
   The practice of including text from the parent article when posting a
   followup 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, around 1984,
   new news-posting software evolved 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 prevalent form in both
   netnews and mail.
   Inclusion practice is still evolving, and disputes over the `correct'
   inclusion style occasionally lead to [132]holy wars.
   Most netters view an inclusion as a promise that comment on it will
   immediately follow. The preferred, conversational style looks like
     > relevant excerpt 1
     response to excerpt
     > relevant excerpt 2
     response to excerpt
     > relevant excerpt 3
     response to excerpt

   or for short messages like this:
     > entire message
     response to message

   Thanks to poor design of some PC-based mail agents, one will
   occasionally see the entire quoted message after the response, like
     response to message
     > entire message

   but this practice is strongly deprecated.
   Though > remains the standard inclusion leader, | is occasionally used
   for extended quotations where original variations in indentation are
   being retained (one mailer even combines these and uses |>). 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).
   Node:Hacker Speech Style, Next:[133]International Style,
   Previous:[134]Email Quotes, Up:[135]Top
Hacker Speech Style

   Hackish speech generally 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 are essential. One should use just enough
   jargon to communicate precisely and identify oneself as a member of
   the culture; overuse of jargon or a breathless, excessively gung-ho
   attitude is 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. In contrast with the methods of jargon construction, it is
   fairly constant throughout hackerdom.
   It has been observed that many hackers are confused by negative
   questions -- or, at least, that the people to whom they are talking
   are often confused by the sense of their answers. The problem is that
   they have done so much programming that distinguishes between
if (going) ...

if (!going) ...

   that when they parse the question "Aren't you going?" it may seem to
   be asking the opposite question from "Are you going?", and so to merit
   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 Russian,
   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', German `doch', or Dutch `jawel' - a word with
   which one could unambiguously answer `yes' to a negative question.
   (See also [136]mu)
   For similar reasons, English-speaking hackers almost never use double
   negatives, even if they live in a region where colloquial usage allows
   them. The thought of uttering something that logically ought to be an
   affirmative knowing it will be misparsed as a negative tends to
   disturb them.
   In a related vein, hackers sometimes make a game of answering
   questions containing logical connectives with a strictly literal
   rather than colloquial interpretation. A non-hacker who is indelicate
   enough to ask a question like "So, are you working on finding that bug
   now or leaving it until later?" is likely to get the perfectly correct
   answer "Yes!" (that is, "Yes, I'm doing it either now or later, and
   you didn't ask which!").
   Node:International Style, Next:[137]Lamer-speak, Previous:[138]Hacker
   Speech Style, Up:[139]Top
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 jargon from English (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 herein to `Commonwealth hackish'. 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 [140]Commonwealth Hackish
   reporting some general phonetic and vocabulary differences from U.S.
   Hackers in Western Europe and (especially) Scandinavia report that
   they often use a mixture of English and their native languages for
   technical conversation. Occasionally they develop idioms in their
   English usage that are influenced by their native-language styles.
   Some of these are reported here.
   On the other hand, English often gives rise to grammatical and
   vocabulary mutations in the native language. For example, Italian
   hackers often use the nonexistent verbs `scrollare' (to scroll) and
   `deletare' (to delete) rather than native Italian `scorrere' and
   `cancellare'. Similarly, the English verb `to hack' has been seen
   conjugated in Swedish. In German, many Unix terms in English are
   casually declined as if they were German verbs - thus:
   mount/mounten/gemountet; grep/grepen/gegrept; fork/forken/geforkt;
   core dump/core-dumpen, core-gedumpt. And Spanish-speaking hackers use
   `linkar' (to link), `debugear' (to debug), and `lockear' (to lock).
   European hackers report that this happens partly because the English
   terms make finer distinctions than are available in their native
   vocabularies, and partly because deliberate language-crossing makes
   for amusing wordplay.
   A few notes on hackish usages in Russian have been added where they
   are parallel with English idioms and thus comprehensible to
   Node:Lamer-speak, Next:[141]Pronunciation Guide,
   Previous:[142]International Style, Up:[143]Top
Crackers, Phreaks, and Lamers

   From the early 1980s onward, a flourishing culture of local,
   MS-DOS-based bulletin boards developed separately from Internet
   hackerdom. The BBS culture has, as its seamy underside, a stratum of
   `pirate boards' inhabited by [144]crackers, phone phreaks, and
   [145]warez d00dz. These people (mostly teenagers running IBM-PC clones
   from their bedrooms) have developed their own characteristic jargon,
   heavily influenced by skateboard lingo and underground-rock slang.
   Though crackers often call themselves `hackers', they aren't (they
   typically have neither significant programming ability, nor Internet
   expertise, nor experience with UNIX or other true multi-user systems).
   Their vocabulary has little overlap with hackerdom's. Nevertheless,
   this lexicon covers much of it so the reader will be able to
   understand what goes by on bulletin-board systems.
   Here is a brief guide to cracker and [146]warez d00dz usage:
     * Misspell frequently. The substitutions
     phone => fone
     freak => phreak
       are obligatory.
     * Always substitute `z's for `s's. (i.e. "codes" -> "codez"). The
       substitution of 'z' for 's' has evolved so that a 'z' is bow
       systematically put at the end of words to denote an illegal or
       cracking connection. Examples : Appz, passwordz, passez, utilz,
       MP3z, distroz, pornz, sitez, gamez, crackz, serialz, downloadz,
       FTPz, etc.
     * Type random emphasis characters after a post line (i.e. "Hey
     * Use the emphatic `k' prefix ("k-kool", "k-rad", "k-awesome")
     * Abbreviate compulsively ("I got lotsa warez w/ docs").
     * Substitute `0' for `o' ("r0dent", "l0zer").
   These traits are similar to those of [147]B1FF, who originated as a
   parody of naive [148]BBS users; also of his latter-day equivalent
   [149]Jeff K.. Occasionally, this sort of distortion may be used as
   heavy sarcasm by a real hacker, as in:
    > I got X Windows running under Linux!

    d00d!  u R an 31337 hax0r

   The only practice resembling this in actual hacker usage is the
   substitution of a dollar sign of `s' in names of products or service
   felt to be excessively expensive, e.g. Compu$erve, Micro$oft.
   For further discussion of the pirate-board subculture, see [150]lamer,
   [151]elite, [152]leech, [153]poser, [154]cracker, and especially
   [155]warez d00dz, [156]banner site, [157]ratio site, [158]leech mode.
   Node:Pronunciation Guide, Next:[159]Other Lexicon Conventions,
   Previous:[160]Lamer-speak, Up:[161]Top
                            How to Use the Lexicon
Pronunciation Guide

   Pronunciation keys are provided in the jargon listings for all entries
   that are neither dictionary words pronounced as in standard English
   nor obvious compounds thereof. Slashes bracket phonetic
   pronunciations, which are to be interpreted using the following
    1. Syllables are hyphen-separated, except that an accent or
       back-accent follows each accented syllable (the back-accent marks
       a secondary accent in some words of four or more syllables). If no
       accent is given, the word is pronounced with equal accentuation on
       all syllables (this is common for abbreviations).
    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. The digraph `kh' is the guttural of "loch" or
       "l'chaim". The digraph 'gh' is the aspirated g+h of "bughouse" or
       "ragheap" (rare in English).
    3. Uppercase letters are pronounced as their English letter names;
       thus (for example) /H-L-L/ is equivalent to /aych el el/. /Z/ may
       be pronounced /zee/ or /zed/ depending on your local dialect.
    4. Vowels are represented as follows:
                back, that
                father, palm (see note)
                far, mark
                flaw, caught
                bake, rain
                less, men
                easy, ski
                their, software
                trip, hit
                life, sky
                block, stock (see note)
                flow, sew
                loot, through
                more, door
                out, how
                boy, coin
                but, some
                put, foot
                yet, young
                few, chew
                /oo/ with optional fronting as in `news' (/nooz/ or
   The glyph /*/ 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/.
   Note that the above table reflects mainly distinctions found in
   standard American English (that is, the neutral dialect spoken by TV
   network announcers and typical of educated speech in the Upper
   Midwest, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Philadelphia). However, we
   separate /o/ from /ah/, which tend to merge in standard American. This
   may help readers accustomed to accents resembling British Received
   The intent of this scheme is to permit as many readers as possible to
   map the pronunciations into their local dialect by ignoring some
   subset of the distinctions we make. Speakers of British RP, for
   example, can smash terminal /r/ and all unstressed vowels. Speakers of
   many varieties of southern American will automatically map /o/ to
   /aw/; and so forth. (Standard American makes a good reference dialect
   for this purpose because it has crisp consonants and more vowel
   distinctions than other major dialects, and tends to retain
   distinctions between unstressed vowels. It also happens to be what
   your editor speaks.)
   Entries with a pronunciation of `//' are written-only usages. (No,
   Unix weenies, this does not mean `pronounce like previous
   Node:Other Lexicon Conventions, Next:[162]Format for New Entries,
   Previous:[163]Pronunciation Guide, Up:[164]Top
Other Lexicon Conventions

   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 after Z. The case-blindness is a
   feature, not a bug.
   The beginning of each entry is marked by a colon (:) at the left
   margin. This convention helps out tools like hypertext browsers that
   benefit from knowing where entry boundaries are, but aren't as
   context-sensitive as humans.
   In pure ASCII renderings of the Jargon File, you will see {} used 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 one
   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 "}".
   Defining instances of terms and phrases appear in `slanted type'. A
   defining instance is one which occurs near to or as part of an
   explanation of it.
   Prefixed ** is used as linguists do; to mark examples of incorrect
   We follow the `logical' quoting convention described in the Writing
   Style section above. In addition, we reserve double quotes for actual
   excerpts of text or (sometimes invented) speech. Scare quotes (which
   mark a word being used in a nonstandard way), and philosopher's quotes
   (which turn an utterance into the string of letters or words that name
   it) are both rendered with single quotes.
   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 of the manuals have
   changed roles frequently and in any case are not referred to in any of
   the entries.
   Various abbreviations used frequently in the lexicon are summarized
          synonym (or synonymous with)
          verb (may be transitive or intransitive)
          intransitive verb
          transitive verb
   Where alternate spellings or pronunciations are given, alt. separates
   two possibilities with nearly equal distribution, while var. prefixes
   one that is markedly less common than the primary.
   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:
   Amateur Packet Radio
          A technical culture of ham-radio sites using AX.25 and TCP/IP
          for wide-area networking and BBS systems.
          University of California at Berkeley
          Bolt, Beranek & Newman
          the university in England (not the city in Massachusetts where
          MIT happens to be located!)
          Carnegie-Mellon University
          Commodore Business Machines
          The Digital Equipment Corporation (now Compaq).
          The Fairchild Instruments Palo Alto development group
          See the [165]FidoNet entry
          International Business Machines
          Massachusetts Institute of Technology; esp. the legendary MIT
          AI Lab culture of roughly 1971 to 1983 and its feeder groups,
          including the Tech Model Railroad Club
          Naval Research Laboratories
          New York University
          The Oxford English Dictionary
          Purdue University
          Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (at Stanford
          From Syst�me International, the name for the standard
          conventions of metric nomenclature used in the sciences
          Stanford University
          Sun Microsystems
          Some MITisms go back as far as the Tech Model Railroad Club
          (TMRC) at MIT c. 1960. Material marked TMRC is from "An
          Abridged Dictionary of the TMRC Language", originally compiled
          by Pete Samson in 1959
          University of California at Los Angeles
          the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland)
          See the [166]Usenet entry
          Worcester Polytechnic Institute, site of a very active
          community of PDP-10 hackers during the 1970s
          The World-Wide-Web.
          XEROX's Palo Alto Research Center, site of much pioneering
          research in user interface design and networking
          Yale University
   Some other etymology abbreviations such as [167]Unix and [168]PDP-10
   refer to technical cultures surrounding specific operating systems,
   processors, or other environments. The fact that a term is labelled
   with any one of these abbreviations does not necessarily mean its use
   is confined to that culture. In particular, many terms labelled `MIT'
   and `Stanford' are in quite general use. We have tried to give some
   indication of the distribution of speakers in the usage notes;
   however, a number of factors mentioned in the introduction conspire to
   make these indications less definite than might be desirable.
   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.
   Node:Format for New Entries, Next:[169]The Jargon Lexicon,
   Previous:[170]Other Lexicon Conventions, Up:[171]Top
Format For New Entries

   You can mail submissions for the Jargon File to
   [172][email protected].
   We welcome new jargon, and corrections to or amplifications of
   existing entries. You can improve your submission's chances of being
   included by adding background information on user population and years
   of currency. References to actual usage via URLs and/or DejaNews
   pointers are particularly welcomed.
   All contributions and suggestions about the Jargon File will be
   considered donations to be placed in the public domain as part of this
   File, and may be used in subsequent paper editions. Submissions may be
   edited for accuracy, clarity and concision.
   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 jargon!
   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 jargon 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.
   An HTML version of the File is available at Please send us URLs for materials
   related to the entries, so we can enrich the File's link structure.
   The Jargon File will be regularly maintained and made available for
   browsing on the World Wide Web, and will include a version number.
   Read it, pass it around, contribute -- this is your monument!
   Node:The Jargon Lexicon, Next:[173]Appendix A, Previous:[174]Format
   for New Entries, Up:[175]Top
                              The Jargon Lexicon
     * [176]= 0 =:
     * [177]= A =:
     * [178]= B =:
     * [179]= C =:
     * [180]= D =:
     * [181]= E =:
     * [182]= F =:
     * [183]= G =:
     * [184]= H =:
     * [185]= I =:
     * [186]= J =:
     * [187]= K =:
     * [188]= L =:
     * [189]= M =:
     * [190]= N =:
     * [191]= O =:
     * [192]= P =:
     * [193]= Q =:
     * [194]= R =:
     * [195]= S =:
     * [196]= T =:
     * [197]= U =:
     * [198]= V =:
     * [199]= W =:
     * [200]= X =:
     * [201]= Y =:
     * [202]= Z =:
   Node:= 0 =, Next:[203]= A =, Up:[204]The Jargon Lexicon
= 0 =

     * [205]0:
     * [206]1TBS:
     * [207]120 reset:
     * [208]2:
     * [209]404:
     * [210]404 compliant:
     * [211]4.2:
     * [212]@-party:
   Node:0, Next:[213]1TBS, Up:[214]= 0 =
   Numeric zero, as opposed to the letter `O' (the 15th letter of the
   English alphabet). In their unmodified forms they look a lot alike,
   and various kluges invented to make them visually distinct have
   compounded the confusion. If your zero is center-dotted and letter-O
   is not, or if letter-O looks almost rectangular but zero looks more
   like an American football stood on end (or the reverse), you're
   probably looking at a modern character display (though the dotted zero
   seems to have originated as an option on IBM 3270 controllers). If
   your zero is slashed but letter-O is not, you're probably looking at
   an old-style ASCII graphic set descended from the default typewheel on
   the venerable ASR-33 Teletype (Scandinavians, for whom � is a letter,
   curse this arrangement). (Interestingly, the slashed zero long
   predates computers; Florian Cajori's monumental "A History of
   Mathematical Notations" notes that it was used in the twelfth and
   thirteenth centuries.) If letter-O has a slash across it and the zero
   does not, your display is tuned for a very old convention used at IBM
   and a few other early mainframe makers (Scandinavians curse this
   arrangement even more, because it means two of their letters collide).
   Some Burroughs/Unisys equipment displays a zero with a reversed slash.
   Old CDC computers rendered letter O as an unbroken oval and 0 as an
   oval broken at upper right and lower left. And yet another convention
   common on early line printers left zero unornamented but added a tail
   or hook to the letter-O so that it resembled an inverted Q or cursive
   capital letter-O (this was endorsed by a draft ANSI standard for how
   to draw ASCII characters, but the final standard changed the
   distinguisher to a tick-mark in the upper-left corner). Are we
   sufficiently confused yet?
   Node:1TBS, Next:[215]120 reset, Previous:[216]0, Up:[217]= 0 =
   1TBS // n.
   The "One True Brace Style"; see [218]indent style.
   Node:120 reset, Next:[219]2, Previous:[220]1TBS, Up:[221]= 0 =
   120 reset /wuhn-twen'tee ree'set/ n.
   [from 120 volts, U.S. wall voltage] To cycle power on a machine in
   order to reset or unjam it. Compare [222]Big Red Switch, [223]power
   Node:2, Next:[224]404, Previous:[225]120 reset, Up:[226]= 0 =
   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). Several versions of a joke have floated around the
   internet in which some idiot programmer fixes the Y2K bug by changing
   all the Y's in something to K's, as in Januark, Februark, etc.
   Node:404, Next:[227]404 compliant, Previous:[228]2, Up:[229]= 0 =
   404 // n.
   [from the HTTP error "file not found on server"] Extended to humans to
   convey that the subject has no idea or no clue - sapience not found.
   May be used reflexively; "Uh, I'm 404ing" means "I'm drawing a blank".
   Node:404 compliant, Next:[230]4.2, Previous:[231]404, Up:[232]= 0 =
   404 compliant adj.
   The status of a website which has been completely removed, usually by
   the administrators of the hosting site as a result of net abuse by the
   website operators. The term is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the
   standard "301 compliant" Murkowski Bill disclaimer used by spammers.
   See also: [233]spam, [234]spamvertize.
   Node:4.2, Next:[235]@-party, Previous:[236]404 compliant, Up:[237]= 0
   4.2 /for' poynt too'/ n.
   Without a prefix, this almost invariably refers to [238]BSD Unix
   release 4.2. Note that it is an indication of cluelessness to say
   "version 4.2", and "release 4.2" is rare; the number stands on its
   own, or is used in the more explicit forms 4.2BSD or (less commonly)
   BSD 4.2. Similar remarks apply to "4.3", "4.4" and to earlier,
   less-widespread releases 4.1 and 2.9.
   Node:@-party, Next:[239]abbrev, Previous:[240]4.2, Up:[241]= 0 =
   @-party /at'par`tee/ n.
   [from the @-sign in an Internet address] (alt. `@-sign party' /at'si:n
   par`tee/) A semi-closed party thrown for hackers at a science-fiction
   convention (esp. the annual World Science Fiction Convention or
   "Worldcon"); one must have a [242]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 [243]boink.
   The first recorded @-party was held at the Westercon (a U.S. western
   regional SF convention) over the July 4th weekend in 1980. It is not
   clear exactly when the canonical @-party venue shifted to the Worldcon
   but it had certainly become established by Constellation in 1983.
   Sadly, the @-party tradition has been in decline since about 1996,
   mainly because having an @-address no longer functions as an effective
   lodge pin.
   Node:= A =, Next:[244]= B =, Previous:[245]= 0 =, Up:[246]The Jargon
= A =

     * [247]abbrev:
     * [248]ABEND:
     * [249]accumulator:
     * [250]ACK:
     * [251]Acme:
     * [252]acolyte:
     * [253]ad-hockery:
     * [254]Ada:
     * [255]address harvester:
     * [256]adger:
     * [257]admin:
     * [258]ADVENT:
     * [259]AFAIK:
     * [260]AFJ:
     * [261]AFK:
     * [262]AI:
     * [263]AI-complete:
     * [264]AI koans:
     * [265]AIDS:
     * [266]AIDX:
     * [267]airplane rule:
     * [268]Alderson loop:
     * [269]aliasing bug:
     * [270]Alice and Bob:
     * [271]all-elbows:
     * [272]alpha geek:
     * [273]alpha particles:
     * [274]alt:
     * [275]alt bit:
     * [276]Aluminum Book:
     * [277]ambimouseterous:
     * [278]Amiga:
     * [279]Amiga Persecution Complex:
     * [280]amoeba:
     * [281]amp off:
     * [282]amper:
     * [283]Angband:
     * [284]angle brackets:
     * [285]angry fruit salad:
     * [286]annoybot:
     * [287]annoyware:
     * [288]ANSI:
     * [289]ANSI standard:
     * [290]ANSI standard pizza:
     * [291]AOL!:
     * [292]app:
     * [293]arena:
     * [294]arg:
     * [295]ARMM:
     * [296]armor-plated:
     * [297]asbestos:
     * [298]asbestos cork award:
     * [299]asbestos longjohns:
     * [300]ASCII:
     * [301]ASCII art:
     * [302]ASCIIbetical order:
     * [303]astroturfing:
     * [304]atomic:
     * [305]attoparsec:
     * [306]AUP:
     * [307]autobogotiphobia:
     * [308]automagically:
     * [309]avatar:
     * [310]awk:
   Node:abbrev, Next:[311]ABEND, Previous:[312]@-party, Up:[313]= A =
   abbrev /*-breev'/, /*-brev'/ n.
   Common abbreviation for `abbreviation'.
   Node:ABEND, Next:[314]accumulator, Previous:[315]abbrev, Up:[316]= A =
   ABEND /a'bend/, /*-bend'/ n.
   [ABnormal END] 1. Abnormal termination (of software); [317]crash;
   [318]lossage. Derives from an error message on the IBM 360; used
   jokingly by hackers but seriously mainly by [319]code grinders.
   Usually capitalized, but may appear as `abend'. Hackers will try to
   persuade you that ABEND is called `abend' because it is what system
   operators do to the machine late on Friday when they want to call it a
   day, and hence is from the German `Abend' = `Evening'. 2.
   [alt.callahans] Absent By Enforced Net Deprivation - used in the
   subject lines of postings warning friends of an imminent loss of
   Internet access. (This can be because of computer downtime, loss of
   provider, moving or illness.) Variants of this also appear: ABVND =
   `Absent By Voluntary Net Deprivation' and ABSEND = `Absent By
   Self-Enforced Net Deprivation' have been sighted.
   Node:accumulator, Next:[320]ACK, Previous:[321]ABEND, Up:[322]= A =
   accumulator n. obs.
   1. Archaic term for a register. On-line use of it as a synonym for
   `register' is a fairly reliable indication that the user has been
   around for quite a while and/or that 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 the term `accumulator'
   (and not, actually, from `arithmetic'). Confusingly, though, an `A'
   register name prefix may also stand for `address', as for example on
   the Motorola 680x0 family. 2. A register being used for arithmetic or
   logic (as opposed to addressing or a loop index), especially one being
   used to accumulate a sum or count of many items. This use is in
   context of a particular routine or stretch of code. "The FOOBAZ
   routine uses A3 as an accumulator." 3. One's in-basket (esp. among
   old-timers who might use sense 1). "You want this reviewed? Sure, just
   put it in the accumulator." (See [323]stack.)
   Node:ACK, Next:[324]Acme, Previous:[325]accumulator, Up:[326]= A =
   ACK /ak/ interj.
   1. [common; from the ASCII mnemonic for 0000110] Acknowledge. Used to
   register one's presence (compare mainstream Yo!). An appropriate
   response to [327]ping or [328]ENQ. 2. [from the comic strip "Bloom
   County"] An exclamation of surprised disgust, esp. in "Ack pffft!"
   Semi-humorous. Generally this sense is not spelled in caps (ACK) and
   is distinguished by a following exclamation point. 3. Used to politely
   interrupt someone to tell them you understand their point (see
   [329]NAK). Thus, for example, you might cut off an overly long
   explanation with "Ack. Ack. Ack. I get it now". 4. An affirmative.
   "Think we ought to ditch that damn NT server for a Linux box?" "ACK!"
   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 [330]talk mode to see if the person has gone away (the
   standard humorous response is of course [331]NAK (sense 1), i.e., "I'm
   not here").
   Node:Acme, Next:[332]acolyte, Previous:[333]ACK, Up:[334]= A =
   Acme n.
   The canonical supplier of bizarre, elaborate, and non-functional
   gadgetry - where Rube Goldberg and Heath Robinson (two cartoonists who
   specialized in elaborate contraptions) shop. The name has been
   humorously expanded as A (or American) Company Making Everything. (In
   fact, Acme was a real brand sold from Sears Roebuck catalogs in the
   early 1900s.) Describing some X as an "Acme X" either means "This is
   [335]insanely great", or, more likely, "This looks [336]insanely great
   on paper, but in practice it's really easy to shoot yourself in the
   foot with it." Compare [337]pistol.
   This term, specially cherished by American hackers and explained here
   for the benefit of our overseas brethren, comes from the Warner
   Brothers' series of "Roadrunner" cartoons. In these cartoons, the
   famished Wile E. Coyote was forever attempting to catch up with, trap,
   and eat the Roadrunner. His attempts usually involved one or more
   high-technology Rube Goldberg devices - rocket jetpacks, catapults,
   magnetic traps, high-powered slingshots, etc. These were usually
   delivered in large cardboard boxes, labeled prominently with the Acme
   name. These devices invariably malfunctioned in improbable and violent
   Node:acolyte, Next:[338]ad-hockery, Previous:[339]Acme, Up:[340]= A =
   acolyte n. obs.
   [TMRC] An [341]OSU privileged enough to submit data and programs to a
   member of the [342]priesthood.
   Node:ad-hockery, Next:[343]Ada, Previous:[344]acolyte, Up:[345]= A =
   ad-hockery /ad-hok'*r-ee/ n.
   [Purdue] 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. For example,
   fuzzy-matching of input tokens that might be typing errors against a
   symbol table can make it look as though a program knows how to spell.
   2. Special-case code to cope with some awkward input that would
   otherwise cause a program to [346]choke, presuming normal inputs are
   dealt with in some cleaner and more regular way. Also called
   `ad-hackery', `ad-hocity' (/ad-hos'*-tee/), `ad-crockery'. See also
   [347]ELIZA effect.
   Node:Ada, Next:[348]address harvester, Previous:[349]ad-hockery,
   Up:[350]= A =
   Ada n.
   A [351]Pascal-descended language that was at one time 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 wss "The PL/I
   of the 1980s"). Hackers find Ada's 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 Charles Babbage on the design of his
   mechanical computing engines in the mid-1800s) would almost certainly
   blanch at the use to which her name has latterly been put; the kindest
   thing that has been said about it is that there is probably a good
   small language screaming to get out from inside its vast,
   [352]elephantine bulk.
   Node:address harvester, Next:[353]adger, Previous:[354]Ada, Up:[355]=
   A =
   address harvester n.
   A robot that searches web pages and/or filters netnews traffic looking
   for valid email addresses. Some address harvesters are benign, used
   only for compiling address directories. Most, unfortunately, are run
   by miscreants compiling address lists to [356]spam. Address harvesters
   can be foiled by a [357]teergrube.
   Node:adger, Next:[358]admin, Previous:[359]address harvester,
   Up:[360]= A =
   adger /aj'r/ vt.
   [UCLA mutant of [361]nadger, poss. also from the middle name of an
   infamous [362]tenured graduate student] To make a bonehead move with
   consequences that could have been foreseen with even slight mental
   effort. E.g., "He started removing files and promptly adgered the
   whole project". Compare [363]dumbass attack.
   Node:admin, Next:[364]ADVENT, Previous:[365]adger, Up:[366]= A =
   admin /ad-min'/ n.
   Short for `administrator'; very commonly used in speech or 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 specifically on news). Compare [367]postmaster,
   [368]sysop, [369]system mangler.
   Node:ADVENT, Next:[370]AFAIK, Previous:[371]admin, Up:[372]= A =
   ADVENT /ad'vent/ n.
   The prototypical computer adventure game, first designed by Will
   Crowther on the [373]PDP-10 in the mid-1970s as an attempt at
   computer-refereed fantasy gaming, and expanded into a puzzle-oriented
   game by Don Woods at Stanford in 1976. (Woods had been one of the
   authors of [374]INTERCAL.) Now better known as Adventure or Colossal
   Cave Adventure, but the [375]TOPS-10 operating system permitted only
   six-letter filenames. See also [376]vadding, [377]Zork, and
   This game defined the terse, dryly humorous style since 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' [379]xyzzy and
   [380]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.
   ADVENT sources are available for FTP at
   . There is a
   Node:AFAIK, Next:[383]AFJ, Previous:[384]ADVENT, Up:[385]= A =
   AFAIK // n.
   [Usenet] Abbrev. for "As Far As I Know".
   Node:AFJ, Next:[386]AFK, Previous:[387]AFAIK, Up:[388]= A =
   AFJ // n.
   Written-only abbreviation for "April Fool's Joke". Elaborate April
   Fool's hoaxes are a long-established tradition on Usenet and Internet;
   see [389]kremvax for an example. In fact, April Fool's Day is the only
   seasonal holiday consistently marked by customary observances on
   Internet and other hacker networks.
   Node:AFK, Next:[390]AI, Previous:[391]AFJ, Up:[392]= A =
   [MUD] Abbrev. for "Away From Keyboard". Used to notify others that you
   will be momentarily unavailable online. eg. "Let's not go kill that
   frost giant yet, I need to go AFK to make a phone call". Often MUDs
   will have a command to politely inform others of your absence when
   they try to talk with you. The term is not restricted to MUDs,
   however, and has become common in many chat situations, from IRC to
   Unix talk.
   Node:AI, Next:[393]AI-complete, Previous:[394]AFK, Up:[395]= A =
   AI /A-I/ n.
   Abbreviation for `Artificial Intelligence', so common that the full
   form is almost never written or spoken among hackers.
   Node:AI-complete, Next:[396]AI koans, Previous:[397]AI, Up:[398]= A =
   AI-complete /A-I k*m-pleet'/ adj.
   [MIT, Stanford: by analogy with `NP-complete' (see [399]NP-)] Used to
   describe problems or subproblems in AI, to indicate that the solution
   presupposes a solution to the `strong AI problem' (that is, the
   synthesis of a human-level intelligence). A problem that is
   AI-complete is, in other words, just too hard.
   Examples of AI-complete problems are `The Vision Problem' (building a
   system that can see as well as a human) and `The Natural Language
   Problem' (building a system that can understand and speak a natural
   language as well as a human). These may appear to be modular, but all
   attempts so far (1999) to solve them have foundered on the amount of
   context information and `intelligence' they seem to require. See also
   Node:AI koans, Next:[401]AIDS, Previous:[402]AI-complete, Up:[403]= A
   AI koans /A-I koh'anz/ 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
   (several are included under [404]Some AI Koans in Appendix A). See
   also [405]ha ha only serious, [406]mu, and [407]hacker humor.
   Node:AIDS, Next:[408]AIDX, Previous:[409]AI koans, Up:[410]= A =
   AIDS /aydz/ n.
   Short for A* Infected Disk Syndrome (`A*' is a [411]glob pattern that
   matches, but is not limited to, Apple or Amiga), this condition is
   quite often the result of practicing unsafe [412]SEX. See [413]virus,
   [414]worm, [415]Trojan horse, [416]virgin.
   Node:AIDX, Next:[417]airplane rule, Previous:[418]AIDS, Up:[419]= A =
   AIDX /ayd'k*z/ n.
   Derogatory term for IBM's perverted version of Unix, AIX, especially
   for the AIX 3.? used in the IBM RS/6000 series (some hackers think it
   is funnier just to pronounce "AIX" as "aches"). A victim of the
   dreaded "hybridism" disease, this attempt to combine the two main
   currents of the Unix stream ([420]BSD and [421]USG Unix) became a
   [422]monstrosity to haunt system administrators' dreams. For example,
   if new accounts are created while many users are logged on, the load
   average jumps quickly over 20 due to silly implementation of the user
   databases. For a quite similar disease, compare [423]HP-SUX. Also,
   compare [424]Macintrash, [425]Nominal Semidestructor, [426]ScumOS,
   Node:airplane rule, Next:[428]Alderson loop, Previous:[429]AIDX,
   Up:[430]= A =
   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. It is correspondingly argued that the
   right way to build reliable systems is to put all your eggs in one
   basket, after making sure that you've built a really good basket. See
   also [431]KISS Principle, [432]elegant.
   Node:Alderson loop, Next:[433]aliasing bug, Previous:[434]airplane
   rule, Up:[435]= A =
   Alderson loop n.
   [Intel] A special version of an [436]infinite loop where there is an
   exit condition available, but inaccessible in the current
   implementation of the code. Typically this is created while debugging
   user interface code. An example would be when there is a menu stating,
   "Select 1-3 or 9 to quit" and 9 is not allowed by the function that
   takes the selection from the user.
   This term received its name from a programmer who had coded a modal
   message box in MSAccess with no Ok or Cancel buttons, thereby
   disabling the entire program whenever the box came up. The message box
   had the proper code for dismissal and even was set up so that when the
   non-existent Ok button was pressed the proper code would be called.
   Node:aliasing bug, Next:[437]Alice and Bob, Previous:[438]Alderson
   loop, Up:[439]= A =
   aliasing bug n.
   A class of subtle programming errors that can arise in code that does
   dynamic allocation, esp. via malloc(3) or equivalent. If several
   pointers address (`aliases for') a given hunk of storage, it may
   happen that the storage is freed or reallocated (and thus moved)
   through one alias and then referenced through another, which may lead
   to subtle (and possibly intermittent) lossage depending on the state
   and the allocation history of the malloc [440]arena. Avoidable by use
   of allocation strategies that never alias allocated core, or by use of
   higher-level languages, such as [441]LISP, which employ a garbage
   collector (see [442]GC). Also called a [443]stale pointer bug. See
   also [444]precedence lossage, [445]smash the stack, [446]fandango on
   core, [447]memory leak, [448]memory smash, [449]overrun screw,
   Historical note: Though this term is nowadays associated with C
   programming, it was already in use in a very similar sense in the
   Algol-60 and FORTRAN communities in the 1960s.
   Node:Alice and Bob, Next:[451]all-elbows, Previous:[452]aliasing bug,
   Up:[453]= A =
   Alice and Bob n.
   The archetypal individuals used as examples in discussions of
   cryptographic protocols. Originally, theorists would say something
   like: "A communicates with someone who claims to be B, So to be sure,
   A tests that B knows a secret number K. So A sends to B a random
   number X. B then forms Y by encrypting X under key K and sends Y back
   to A" Because this sort of thing is is quite hard to follow, theorists
   stopped using the unadorned letters A and B to represent the main
   players and started calling them Alice and Bob. So now we say "Alice
   communicates with someone claiming to be Bob, and to be sure, So Alice
   tests that Bob knows a secret number K. Alice sends to Bob a random
   number X. Bob then forms Y by encrypting X under key K and sends Y
   back to Alice". A whole mythology rapidly grew up around the
   metasyntactic names; see
   In Bruce Schneier's definitive introductory text "Applied
   Cryptography" (2nd ed., 1996, John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 0-471-11709-9)
   he introduces a table of dramatis personae headed by Alice and Bob.
   Others include Carol (a participant in three- and four-party
   protocols), Dave (a participant in four-party protocols), Eve (an
   eavesdropper), Mallory (a malicious active attacker), Trent (a trusted
   arbitrator), Walter (a warden), Peggy (a prover) and Victor (a
   verifier). These names for roles are either already standard or, given
   the wide popularity of the book, may be expected to quickly become so.
   Node:all-elbows, Next:[455]alpha geek, Previous:[456]Alice and Bob,
   Up:[457]= A =
   all-elbows adj.
   [MS-DOS] Of a TSR (terminate-and-stay-resident) IBM PC program, such
   as the N pop-up calendar and calculator utilities that circulate on
   [458]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
   [459]rude, also [460]mess-dos.
   Node:alpha geek, Next:[461]alpha particles, Previous:[462]all-elbows,
   Up:[463]= A =
   alpha geek n.
   [from animal ethologists' `alpha male'] The most technically
   accomplished or skillful person in some implied context. "Ask Larry,
   he's the alpha geek here."
   Node:alpha particles, Next:[464]alt, Previous:[465]alpha geek,
   Up:[466]= A =
   alpha particles n.
   See [467]bit rot.
   Node:alt, Next:[468]alt bit, Previous:[469]alpha particles, Up:[470]=
   A =
   alt /awlt/
   1. n. The alt shift key on an IBM PC or [471]clone keyboard; see
   [472]bucky bits, sense 2 (though typical PC usage does not simply set
   the 0200 bit). 2. n. The `option' key on a Macintosh; use of this term
   usually reveals that the speaker hacked PCs before coming to the Mac
   (see also [473]feature key, which is sometimes incorrectly called
   `alt'). 3. n.,obs. [PDP-10; often capitalized to ALT] Alternate name
   for the ASCII ESC character (ASCII 0011011), after the keycap labeling
   on some older terminals; also `altmode' (/awlt'mohd/). This character
   was almost never pronounced `escape' on an ITS system, in [474]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 usage probably arose 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). 4. The alt hierarchy on
   Usenet, the tree of newsgroups created by users without a formal vote
   and approval procedure. There is a myth, not entirely implausible,
   that alt is acronymic for "anarchists, lunatics, and terrorists"; but
   in fact it is simply short for "alternative".
   Node:alt bit, Next:[475]Aluminum Book, Previous:[476]alt, Up:[477]= A
   alt bit /awlt bit/ [from alternate] adj.
   See [478]meta bit.
   Node:Aluminum Book, Next:[479]ambimouseterous, Previous:[480]alt bit,
   Up:[481]= A =
   Aluminum Book n.
   [MIT] "Common LISP: The Language", by Guy L. Steele Jr. (Digital
   Press, first edition 1984, second edition 1990). Note that due to a
   technical screwup some printings of the second edition are actually of
   a color the author describes succinctly as "yucky green". See also
   [482]book titles.
   Node:ambimouseterous, Next:[483]Amiga, Previous:[484]Aluminum Book,
   Up:[485]= A =
   ambimouseterous /am-b*-mows'ter-us/ or /am-b*-mows'trus/ adj.
   [modeled on ambidextrous] Able to use a mouse with either hand.
   Node:Amiga, Next:[486]Amiga Persecution Complex,
   Previous:[487]ambimouseterous, Up:[488]= A =
   Amiga n
   A series of personal computer models originally sold by Commodore,
   based on 680x0 processors, custom support chips and an operating
   system that combined some of the best features of Macintosh and Unix
   with compatibility with neither.
   The Amiga was released just as the personal computing world
   standardized on IBM-PC clones. This prevented it from gaining serious
   market share, despite the fact that the first Amigas had a substantial
   technological lead on the IBM XTs of the time. Instead, it acquired a
   small but zealous population of enthusiastic hackers who dreamt of one
   day unseating the clones (see [489]Amiga Persecution Complex). The
   traits of this culture are both spoofed and illuminated in [490]The
   BLAZE Humor Viewer. The strength of the Amiga platform seeded a small
   industry of companies building software and hardware for the platform,
   especially in graphics and video applications (see [491]video
   Due to spectacular mismanagement, Commodore did hardly any R&D,
   allowing the competition to close Amiga's technological lead. After
   Commodore went bankrupt in 1994 the technology passed through several
   hands, none of whom did much with it. However, the Amiga is still
   being produced in Europe under license and has a substantial number of
   fans, which will probably extend the platform's life considerably.
   Node:Amiga Persecution Complex, Next:[492]amoeba, Previous:[493]Amiga,
   Up:[494]= A =
   Amiga Persecution Complex n.
   The disorder suffered by a particularly egregious variety of
   [495]bigot, those who believe that the marginality of their preferred
   machine is the result of some kind of industry-wide conspiracy (for
   without a conspiracy of some kind, the eminent superiority of their
   beloved shining jewel of a platform would obviously win over all,
   market pressures be damned!) Those afflicted are prone to engaging in
   [496]flame wars and calling for boycotts and mailbombings. Amiga
   Persecution Complex is by no means limited to Amiga users; NeXT,
   [497]NeWS, [498]OS/2, Macintosh, [499]LISP, and [500]GNU users are
   also common victims. [501]Linux users used to display symptoms very
   frequently before Linux started winning; some still do. See also
   [502]newbie, [503]troll, [504]holy wars, [505]weenie, [506]Get a
   Node:amoeba, Next:[507]amp off, Previous:[508]Amiga Persecution
   Complex, Up:[509]= A =
   amoeba n.
   Humorous term for the Commodore Amiga personal computer.
   Node:amp off, Next:[510]amper, Previous:[511]amoeba, Up:[512]= A =
   amp off vt.
   [Purdue] To run in [513]background. From the Unix shell `&' operator.
   Node:amper, Next:[514]Angband, Previous:[515]amp off, Up:[516]= A =
   amper n.
   Common abbreviation for the name of the ampersand (`&', ASCII 0100110)
   character. See [517]ASCII for other synonyms.
   Node:Angband, Next:[518]angle brackets, Previous:[519]amper, Up:[520]=
   A =
   Angband n. /ang'band/
   Like [521]nethack, [522]moria, and [523]rogue, one of the large freely
   distributed Dungeons-and-Dragons-like simulation games, available for
   a wide range of machines and operating systems. The name is from
   Tolkien's Pits of Angband (compare [524]elder days, [525]elvish). Has
   been described as "Moria on steroids"; but, unlike Moria, many aspects
   of the game are customizable. This leads many hackers and would-be
   hackers into fooling with these instead of doing productive work.
   There are many Angband variants, of which the most notorious is
   probably the rather whimsical Zangband. In this game, when a key that
   does not correspond to a command is pressed, the game will display
   "Type ? for help" 50% of the time. The other 50% of the time, random
   error messages including "An error has occurred because an error of
   type 42 has occurred" and "Windows 95 uninstalled successfully" will
   be displayed. Zangband also allows the player to kill Santa Claus (who
   has some really good stuff, but also has a lot of friends), "Bull
   Gates", and Barney the Dinosaur (but be watchful; Barney has a nasty
   case of halitosis). There is an official angband home page at
   [526] and a zangband one at
   [527] See also [528]Random Number God.
   Node:angle brackets, Next:[529]angry fruit salad,
   Previous:[530]Angband, Up:[531]= A =
   angle brackets n.
   Either of the characters < (ASCII 0111100) and > (ASCII 0111110)
   (ASCII less-than or greater-than signs). Typographers in the [532]Real
   World use angle brackets which are either taller and slimmer (the ISO
   `Bra' and `Ket' characters), or significantly smaller (single or
   double guillemets) than the less-than and greater-than signs. See
   [533]broket, [534]ASCII.
   Node:angry fruit salad, Next:[535]annoybot, Previous:[536]angle
   brackets, Up:[537]= A =
   angry fruit salad n.
   A bad visual-interface design that uses too many colors. (This term
   derives, of course, from the bizarre day-glo colors found in canned
   fruit salad.) Too often one sees similar effects from interface
   designers using color window systems such as [538]X; there is a
   tendency to create displays that are flashy and attention-getting but
   uncomfortable for long-term use.
   Node:annoybot, Next:[539]annoyware, Previous:[540]angry fruit salad,
   Up:[541]= A =
   annoybot /*-noy-bot/ n.
   [IRC] See [542]bot.
   Node:annoyware, Next:[543]ANSI, Previous:[544]annoybot, Up:[545]= A =
   annoyware n.
   A type of [546]shareware that frequently disrupts normal program
   operation to display requests for payment to the author in return for
   the ability to disable the request messages. (Also called `nagware')
   The requests generally require user action to acknowledge the message
   before normal operation is resumed and are often tied to the most
   frequently used features of the software. See also [547]careware,
   [548]charityware, [549]crippleware, [550]freeware, [551]FRS,
   [552]guiltware, [553]postcardware, and [554]-ware; compare
   Node:ANSI, Next:[556]ANSI standard, Previous:[557]annoyware, Up:[558]=
   A =
   ANSI /an'see/
   1. n. [techspeak] The American National Standards Institute. ANSI,
   along with the International Organization for Standards (ISO),
   standardized the C programming language (see [559]K&R, [560]Classic
   C), and promulgates many other important software standards. 2. n.
   [techspeak] A terminal may be said to be `ANSI' if it meets the ANSI
   X.364 standard for terminal control. Unfortunately, this standard was
   both over-complicated and too permissive. It has been retired and
   replaced by the ECMA-48 standard, which shares both flaws. 3. n. [BBS
   jargon] The set of screen-painting codes that most MS-DOS and Amiga
   computers accept. This comes from the ANSI.SYS device driver that must
   be loaded on an MS-DOS computer to view such codes. Unfortunately,
   neither DOS ANSI nor the BBS ANSIs derived from it exactly match the
   ANSI X.364 terminal standard. For example, the ESC-[1m code turns on
   the bold highlight on large machines, but in IBM PC/MS-DOS ANSI, it
   turns on `intense' (bright) colors. Also, in BBS-land, the term `ANSI'
   is often used to imply that a particular computer uses or can emulate
   the IBM high-half character set from MS-DOS. Particular use depends on
   context. Occasionally, the vanilla ASCII character set is used with
   the color codes, but on BBSs, ANSI and `IBM characters' tend to go
   Node:ANSI standard, Next:[561]ANSI standard pizza, Previous:[562]ANSI,
   Up:[563]= A =
   ANSI standard /an'see stan'd*rd/
   The ANSI standard usage of `ANSI standard' refers to any practice
   which is typical or broadly done. It's most appropriately applied to
   things that everyone does that are not quite regulation. For example:
   ANSI standard shaking of a laser printer cartridge to get extra life
   from it, or the ANSI standard word tripling in names of usenet alt
   Node:ANSI standard pizza, Next:[564]AOL!, Previous:[565]ANSI standard,
   Up:[566]= A =
   ANSI standard pizza /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 [567]rotary debugger; compare
   [568]ISO standard cup of tea.
   Node:AOL!, Next:[569]app, Previous:[570]ANSI standard pizza, Up:[571]=
   A =
   AOL! n.
   [Usenet] Common synonym for "Me, too!" alluding to the legendary
   propensity of America Online users to utter contentless "Me, too!"
   postings. The number of exclamation points following varies from zero
   to five or so. The pseudo-HTML
     Me, too!
   is also frequently seen. See also [572]September that never ended.
   Node:app, Next:[573]arena, Previous:[574]AOL!, Up:[575]= A =
   app /ap/ n.
   Short for `application program', as opposed to a systems program. Apps
   are what systems vendors are forever chasing developers to create 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 to be apps.
   (Broadly, an app is often a self-contained environment for performing
   some well-defined task such as `word processing'; hackers tend to
   prefer more general-purpose tools.) See [576]killer app; oppose
   [577]tool, [578]operating system.
   Node:arena, Next:[579]arg, Previous:[580]app, Up:[581]= A =
   arena n.
   [common; Unix] 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
   malloc: corrupt arena message emitted when some early versions
   detected an impossible value in the free block list. See [582]overrun
   screw, [583]aliasing bug, [584]memory leak, [585]memory smash,
   [586]smash the stack.
   Node:arg, Next:[587]ARMM, Previous:[588]arena, Up:[589]= A =
   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 1 arg, but the arc-tangent function can take either 1 or 2
   args." Compare [590]param, [591]parm, [592]var.
   Node:ARMM, Next:[593]armor-plated, Previous:[594]arg, Up:[595]= A =
   ARMM n.
   [acronym, `Automated Retroactive Minimal Moderation'] A Usenet
   [596]cancelbot created by Dick Depew of Munroe Falls, Ohio. ARMM was
   intended to automatically cancel posts from anonymous-posting sites.
   Unfortunately, the robot's recognizer for anonymous postings triggered
   on its own automatically-generated control messages! Transformed by
   this stroke of programming ineptitude into a monster of
   Frankensteinian proportions, it broke loose on the night of March 31,
   1993 and proceeded to [597]spam news.admin.policy with a recursive
   explosion of over 200 messages.
   ARMM's bug produced a recursive [598]cascade of messages each of which
   mechanically added text to the ID and Subject and some other headers
   of its parent. This produced a flood of messages in which each header
   took up several screens and each message ID and subject line got
   longer and longer and longer.
   Reactions varied from amusement to outrage. The pathological messages
   crashed at least one mail system, and upset people paying line charges
   for their Usenet feeds. One poster described the ARMM debacle as
   "instant Usenet history" (also establishing the term [599]despew), and
   it has since been widely cited as a cautionary example of the havoc
   the combination of good intentions and incompetence can wreak on a
   network. Compare [600]Great Worm; [601]sorcerer's apprentice mode. See
   also [602]software laser, [603]network meltdown.
   Node:armor-plated, Next:[604]asbestos, Previous:[605]ARMM, Up:[606]= A
   armor-plated n.
   Syn. for [607]bulletproof.
   Node:asbestos, Next:[608]asbestos cork award,
   Previous:[609]armor-plated, Up:[610]= A =
   asbestos adj.
   [common] Used as a modifier to anything intended to protect one from
   [611]flames; also in other highly [612]flame-suggestive usages. See,
   for example, [613]asbestos longjohns and [614]asbestos cork award.
   Node:asbestos cork award, Next:[615]asbestos longjohns,
   Previous:[616]asbestos, Up:[617]= A =
   asbestos cork award n.
   Once, long ago at MIT, there was a [618]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'. (Any reader in doubt as to the intended
   application of the cork should consult the etymology under
   [619]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 is no agreement on which few.
   Node:asbestos longjohns, Next:[620]ASCII, Previous:[621]asbestos cork
   award, Up:[622]= A =
   asbestos longjohns n.
   Notional garments donned by [623]Usenet posters just before emitting a
   remark they expect will elicit [624]flamage. This is the most common
   of the [625]asbestos coinages. Also `asbestos underwear', `asbestos
   overcoat', etc.
   Node:ASCII, Next:[626]ASCII art, Previous:[627]asbestos longjohns,
   Up:[628]= A =
   ASCII /as'kee/ n.
   [originally an acronym (American Standard Code for Information
   Interchange) but now merely conventional] The predominant character
   set encoding of present-day computers. The standard version uses 7
   bits for each character, whereas most earlier codes (including early
   drafts of of ASCII prior to June 1961) used fewer. This change allowed
   the inclusion of lowercase letters -- a major [629]win -- but it did
   not provide for accented letters or any other letterforms not used in
   English (such as the German sharp-S or the ae-ligature which is a
   letter in, for example, Norwegian). It could be worse, though. It
   could be much worse. See [630]EBCDIC to understand how. A history of
   ASCII and its ancestors is at
   Computers are much pickier and less flexible about spelling than
   humans; thus, hackers need to be very precise when talking about
   characters, and have developed a considerable amount of verbal
   shorthand for them. Every character has one or more names -- some
   formal, some concise, some silly. Common jargon names for ASCII
   characters are collected here. See also individual entries for
   [632]bang, [633]excl, [634]open, [635]ques, [636]semi, [637]shriek,
   [638]splat, [639]twiddle, and [640]Yu-Shiang Whole Fish.
   This list derives from revision 2.3 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 that are
   reported but rarely seen; official ANSI/CCITT names are surrounded by
   brokets: <>. Square brackets mark the particularly silly names
   introduced by [641]INTERCAL. The abbreviations "l/r" and "o/c" stand
   for left/right and "open/close" respectively. Ordinary parentheticals
   provide some usage information.
          Common: [642]bang; pling; excl; shriek; ball-bat; . Rare: factorial; exclam; smash; cuss; boing; yell; wow;
          hey; wham; eureka; [spark-spot]; soldier, control.
          Common: double quote; quote. Rare: literal mark; double-glitch;
          ; ; dirk; [rabbit-ears]; double
          Common: number sign; pound; pound sign; hash; sharp;
          [643]crunch; hex; [mesh]. Rare: grid; crosshatch; octothorpe;
          flash; , pig-pen; tictactoe; scratchmark; thud; thump;
          Common: dollar; . Rare: currency symbol; buck;
          cash; string (from BASIC); escape (when used as the echo of
          ASCII ESC); ding; cache; [big money].
          Common: percent; ; mod; grapes. Rare:
          Common: ; amper; and, and sign. Rare: address (from
          C); reference (from C++); andpersand; bitand; background (from
          sh(1)); pretzel; amp. [INTERCAL called this `ampersand'; what
          could be sillier?]
          Common: single quote; quote; . Rare: prime; glitch;
          tick; irk; pop; [spark]; ;
   ( )
          Common: l/r paren; l/r parenthesis; left/right; open/close;
          paren/thesis; o/c paren; o/c parenthesis; l/r parenthesis; l/r
          banana. Rare: so/already; lparen/rparen; ; o/c round bracket, l/r round bracket, [wax/wane];
          parenthisey/unparenthisey; l/r ear.
          Common: star; [[645]splat]; . Rare: wildcard; gear;
          dingle; mult; spider; aster; times; twinkle; glob (see
          [646]glob); [647]Nathan Hale.
          Common: ; add. Rare: cross; [intersection].
          Common: . Rare: ; [tail].
          Common: dash; ; . Rare: [worm]; option; dak;
          Common: dot; point; ; . Rare: radix
          point; full stop; [spot].
          Common: slash; stroke; ; forward slash. Rare: diagonal;
          solidus; over; slak; virgule; [slat].
          Common: . Rare: dots; [two-spot].
          Common: ; semi. Rare: weenie; [hybrid], pit-thwong.
   < >
          Common: ; bra/ket; l/r angle; l/r angle
          bracket; l/r broket. Rare: from/{into, towards}; read
          from/write to; suck/blow; comes-from/gozinta; in/out;
          crunch/zap (all from UNIX); tic/tac; [angle/right angle].
          Common: ; gets; takes. Rare: quadrathorpe; [half-mesh].
          Common: query; ; [648]ques. Rare: whatmark;
          [what]; wildchar; huh; hook; buttonhook; hunchback.
          Common: at sign; at; strudel. Rare: each; vortex; whorl;
          [whirlpool]; cyclone; snail; ape; cat; rose; cabbage;
          Rare: [book].
   [ ]
          Common: l/r square bracket; l/r bracket; ; bracket/unbracket. Rare: square/unsquare; [U turn/U
          turn back].
          Common: backslash, hack, whack; escape (from C/UNIX); reverse
          slash; slosh; backslant; backwhack. Rare: bash; ; reversed virgule; [backslat].
          Common: hat; control; uparrow; caret; . Rare: xor
          sign, chevron; [shark (or shark-fin)]; to the (`to the power
          of'); fang; pointer (in Pascal).
          Common: ; underscore; underbar; under. Rare: score;
          backarrow; skid; [flatworm].
          Common: backquote; left quote; left single quote; open quote;
          ; grave. Rare: backprime; [backspark];
          unapostrophe; birk; blugle; back tick; back glitch; push;
          ; quasiquote.
   { }
          Common: o/c brace; l/r brace; l/r squiggly; l/r squiggly
          bracket/brace; l/r curly bracket/brace; . Rare: brace/unbrace; curly/uncurly; leftit/rytit; l/r
          squirrelly; [embrace/bracelet].
          Common: bar; or; or-bar; v-bar; pipe; vertical bar. Rare:
          ; gozinta; thru; pipesinta (last three from
          UNIX); [spike].
          Common: ; squiggle; [649]twiddle; not. Rare: approx;
          wiggle; swung dash; enyay; [sqiggle (sic)].
   The pronunciation of # as `pound' is common in the U.S. but a bad
   idea; [650]Commonwealth Hackish has its own, rather more apposite use
   of `pound sign' (confusingly, on British keyboards the pound graphic
   happens to replace #; thus Britishers sometimes call # on a U.S.-ASCII
   keyboard `pound', compounding the American error). The U.S. usage
   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. There are more culture wars over
   the correct pronunciation of this character than any other, which has
   led to the [651]ha ha only serious suggestion that it be pronounced
   `shibboleth' (see Judges 12:6 in an Old Testament or Tanakh).
   The `uparrow' name for circumflex and `leftarrow' name for underline
   are historical relics from archaic ASCII (the 1963 version), which had
   these graphics in those character positions rather than the modern
   punctuation characters.
   The `swung dash' or `approximation' sign is not quite the same as
   tilde in typeset material but the ASCII tilde serves for both (compare
   [652]angle brackets).
   Some other common usages cause odd overlaps. The #, $, >, and &
   characters, for example, are all pronounced "hex" in different
   communities because various assemblers use them as a prefix tag for
   hexadecimal constants (in particular, # in many assembler-programming
   cultures, $ in the 6502 world, > at Texas Instruments, and & on the
   BBC Micro, Sinclair, and some Z80 machines). See also [653]splat.
   The inability of ASCII text to correctly represent any of the world's
   other major languages makes the designers' choice of 7 bits look more
   and more like a serious [654]misfeature as the use of international
   networks continues to increase (see [655]software rot). Hardware and
   software from the U.S. still tends to embody the assumption that ASCII
   is the universal character set and that characters have 7 bits; this
   is a major irritant to people who want to use a character set suited
   to their own languages. Perversely, though, efforts to solve this
   problem by proliferating `national' character sets produce an
   evolutionary pressure to use a smaller subset common to all those in
   Node:ASCII art, Next:[656]ASCIIbetical order, Previous:[657]ASCII,
   Up:[658]= A =
   ASCII art n.
   The fine art of drawing diagrams using the ASCII character set (mainly
   |, -, /, \, and +). Also known as `character graphics' or `ASCII
   graphics'; see also [659]boxology. Here is a serious example:
    o----)||(--+--|<----+   +---------o + D O
      L  )||(  |        |   |             C U
    A I  )||(  +-->|-+  |   +-\/\/-+--o -   T
    C N  )||(        |  |   |      |        P
      E  )||(  +-->|-+--)---+--|(--+-o      U
         )||(  |        |          | GND    T

    A power supply consisting of a full wave rectifier circuit
    feeding a capacitor input filter circuit

   And here are some very silly examples:
  |\/\/\/|     ____/|              ___    |\_/|    ___
  |      |     \ o.O|   ACK!      /   \_  |` '|  _/   \
  |      |      =(_)=  THPHTH!   /      \/     \/      \
  | (o)(o)        U             /                       \
  C      _)  (__)                \/\/\/\  _____  /\/\/\/
  | ,___|    (oo)                       \/     \/
  |   /       \/-------\         U                  (__)
 /____\        ||     | \    /---V  `v'-            oo )
/      \       ||---W||  *  * |--|   || |`.         |_/\

    ====___\   /.. ..\   /___====      Klingons rule OK!
  //        ---\__O__/---        \\
  \_\                           /_/

   There is an important subgenre of ASCII art that puns on the standard
   character names in the fashion of a rebus.
|      ^^^^^^^^^^^^                                      |
| ^^^^^^^^^^^            ^^^^^^^^^                       |
|                 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^            ^^^^^^^^^^^^^ |
|        ^^^^^^^         B       ^^^^^^^^^               |
|  ^^^^^^^^^          ^^^            ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^      |
             " A Bee in the Carrot Patch "

   Within humorous ASCII art, there is for some reason an entire
   flourishing subgenre of pictures of silly cows. Four of these are
   reproduced in the examples above, here are three more:
         (__)              (__)              (__)
         (\/)              ($$)              (**)
  /-------\/        /-------\/        /-------\/
 / | 666 ||        / |=====||        / |     ||
*  ||----||       *  ||----||       *  ||----||
   ~~    ~~          ~~    ~~          ~~    ~~
Satanic cow    This cow is a Yuppie   Cow in love

   Finally, here's a magnificent example of ASCII art depicting an
   Edwardian train station in Dunedin, New Zealand:
                                 / I \
                              JL/  |  \JL
   .-.                    i   ()   |   ()   i                    .-.
   |_|     .^.           /_\  LJ=======LJ  /_\           .^.     |_|
._/___\._./___\_._._._._.L_J_/.-.     .-.\_L_J._._._._._/___\._./___\._._._
       ., |-,-| .,       L_J  |_| [I] |_|  L_J       ., |-,-| .,        .,
       JL |-O-| JL       L_J%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%L_J       JL |-O-| JL        JL
 _/\_  ||\\_I_//||  _/\_ [_] []_/_L_J_\_[] [_] _/\_  ||\\_I_//||  _/\_  ||\
 |__|  ||=/_|_\=||  |__|_|_|   _L_L_J_J_   |_|_|__|  ||=/_|_\=||  |__|  ||-
 |__|  |||__|__|||  |__[___]__--__===__--__[___]__|  |||__|__|||  |__|  |||
 \_I_/ [_]\_I_/[_] \_I_[_]\II/[]\_\I/_/[]\II/[_]\_I_/ [_]\_I_/[_] \_I_/ [_]
./   \.L_J/   \L_J./   L_JI  I[]/     \[]I  IL_J    \.L_J/   \L_J./   \.L_J
|     |L_J|   |L_J|    L_J|  |[]|     |[]|  |L_J     |L_J|   |L_J|     |L_J
|_____JL_JL___JL_JL____|-||  |[]|     |[]|  ||-|_____JL_JL___JL_JL_____JL_J

   There is a newsgroup, alt.ascii-art, devoted to this genre; however,
   see also [660]warlording.
   Node:ASCIIbetical order, Next:[661]astroturfing, Previous:[662]ASCII
   art, Up:[663]= A =
   ASCIIbetical order /as'kee-be'-t*-kl or'dr/ adj.,n.
   Used to indicate that data is sorted in ASCII collated order rather
   than alphabetical order. This lexicon is sorted in something close to
   ASCIIbetical order, but with case ignored and entries beginning with
   non-alphabetic characters moved to the end. "At my video store, they
   used their computer to sort the videos into ASCIIbetical order, so I
   couldn't find `"Crocodile" Dundee' until I thought to look before
   `2001' and `48 HRS.'!"
   Node:astroturfing, Next:[664]atomic, Previous:[665]ASCIIbetical order,
   Up:[666]= A =
   astroturfing n.
   The use of paid shills to create the impression of a popular movement,
   through means like letters to newspapers from soi-disant `concerned
   citizens', paid opinion pieces, and the formation of grass-roots
   lobbying groups that are actually funded by a PR group (astroturf is
   fake grass; hence the term). This term became common among hackers
   after it came to light in early 1998 that Microsoft had attempted to
   use such tactics to forestall the U.S. Department of Justice's
   antitrust action against the company.
   This backfired horribly, angering a number of state attorneys-general
   enough to induce them to go public with plans to join the Federal
   suit. It also set anybody defending Microsoft on the net for the
   accusation "You're just astroturfing!".
   Node:atomic, Next:[667]attoparsec, Previous:[668]astroturfing,
   Up:[669]= A =
   atomic adj.
   [from Gk. `atomos', indivisible] 1. Indivisible; cannot be split up.
   For example, an instruction may be said to do several things
   `atomically', i.e., all the things are done immediately, and there is
   no chance of the instruction being half-completed or of another being
   interspersed. Used esp. to convey that an operation cannot be screwed
   up by interrupts. "This routine locks the file and increments the
   file's semaphore atomically." 2. [primarily techspeak] Guaranteed to
   complete successfully or not at all, usu. refers to database
   transactions. If an error prevents a partially-performed transaction
   from proceeding to completion, it must be "backed out," as the
   database must not be left in an inconsistent state.
   Computer usage, in either of the above senses, has none of the
   connotations that `atomic' has in mainstream English (i.e. of
   particles of matter, nuclear explosions etc.).
   Node:attoparsec, Next:[670]AUP, Previous:[671]atomic, Up:[672]= A =
   attoparsec n.
   About an inch. `atto-' is the standard SI prefix for multiplication by
   10^(-18). A parsec (parallax-second) is 3.26 light-years; an
   attoparsec is thus 3.26 * 10^(-18) light years, or about 3.1 cm (thus,
   1 attoparsec/[673]microfortnight equals about 1 inch/sec). This unit
   is reported to be in use (though probably not very seriously) among
   hackers in the U.K. See [674]micro-.
   Node:AUP, Next:[675]autobogotiphobia, Previous:[676]attoparsec,
   Up:[677]= A =
   AUP /A-U-P/
   Abbreviation, "Acceptable Use Policy". The policy of a given ISP which
   sets out what the ISP considers to be (un)acceptable uses of its
   Internet resources.
   Node:autobogotiphobia, Next:[678]automagically, Previous:[679]AUP,
   Up:[680]= A =
   autobogotiphobia /aw'toh-boh-got`*-foh'bee-*/
   n. See [681]bogotify.
   Node:automagically, Next:[682]avatar, Previous:[683]autobogotiphobia,
   Up:[684]= A =
   automagically /aw-toh-maj'i-klee/ adv.
   Automatically, but in a way that, 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 [685]magic. "The
   C-INTERCAL compiler generates C, then automagically invokes cc(1) to
   produce an executable."
   This term is quite old, going back at least to the mid-70s in jargon
   and probably much earlier. The word `automagic' occurred in
   advertising (for a shirt-ironing gadget) as far back as the late
   Node:avatar, Next:[686]awk, Previous:[687]automagically, Up:[688]= A =
   avatar n. Syn.
   [in Hindu mythology, the incarnation of a god] 1. Among people working
   on virtual reality and [689]cyberspace interfaces, an avatar is an
   icon or representation of a user in a shared virtual reality. The term
   is sometimes used on [690]MUDs. 2. [CMU, Tektronix] [691]root,
   [692]superuser. There are quite a few Unix machines on which the name
   of the superuser account is `avatar' rather than `root'. This quirk
   was originated by a CMU hacker who found the terms `root' and
   `superuser' unimaginative, and thought `avatar' might better impress
   people with the responsibility they were accepting.
   Node:awk, Next:[693]B5, Previous:[694]avatar, Up:[695]= A =
   awk /awk/
   1. n. [Unix techspeak] An interpreted language for massaging text data
   developed by Alfred Aho, Peter Weinberger, and Brian Kernighan (the
   name derives from their initials). It is characterized by C-like
   syntax, a declaration-free approach to variable typing and
   declarations, associative arrays, and field-oriented text processing.
   See also [696]Perl. 2. n. Editing term for an expression awkward to
   manipulate through normal [697]regexp facilities (for example, one
   containing a [698]newline). 3. vt. To process data using awk(1).
   Node:= B =, Next:[699]= C =, Previous:[700]= A =, Up:[701]The Jargon
= B =

     * [702]B5:
     * [703]back door:
     * [704]backbone cabal:
     * [705]backbone site:
     * [706]backgammon:
     * [707]background:
     * [708]backreference:
     * [709]backronym:
     * [710]backspace and overstrike:
     * [711]backward combatability:
     * [712]BAD:
     * [713]Bad and Wrong:
     * [714]Bad Thing:
     * [715]bag on the side:
     * [716]bagbiter:
     * [717]bagbiting:
     * [718]baggy pantsing:
     * [719]balloonian variable:
     * [720]bamf:
     * [721]banana label:
     * [722]banana problem:
     * [723]banner ad:
     * [724]banner site:
     * [725]barn:
     * [726]batbelt:
     * [727]Befunge:
     * [728]BI:
     * [729]binary four:
     * [730]bandwidth:
     * [731]bang:
     * [732]bang on:
     * [733]bang path:
     * [734]banner:
     * [735]bar:
     * [736]bare metal:
     * [737]barf:
     * [738]barfmail:
     * [739]barfulation:
     * [740]barfulous:
     * [741]barney:
     * [742]baroque:
     * [743]BASIC:
     * [744]batch:
     * [745]bathtub curve:
     * [746]baud:
     * [747]baud barf:
     * [748]baz:
     * [749]bazaar:
     * [750]bboard:
     * [751]BBS:
     * [752]BCPL:
     * [753]beam:
     * [754]beanie key:
     * [755]beep:
     * [756]beige toaster:
     * [757]bells and whistles:
     * [758]bells whistles and gongs:
     * [759]benchmark:
     * [760]Berkeley Quality Software:
     * [761]berklix:
     * [762]Berzerkeley:
     * [763]beta:
     * [764]BFI:
     * [765]bible:
     * [766]BiCapitalization:
     * [767]B1FF:
     * [768]biff:
     * [769]Big Gray Wall:
     * [770]big iron:
     * [771]Big Red Switch:
     * [772]Big Room:
     * [773]big win:
     * [774]big-endian:
     * [775]bignum:
     * [776]bigot:
     * [777]bit:
     * [778]bit bang:
     * [779]bit bashing:
     * [780]bit bucket:
     * [781]bit decay:
     * [782]bit rot:
     * [783]bit twiddling:
     * [784]bit-paired keyboard:
     * [785]bitblt:
     * [786]BITNET:
     * [787]bits:
     * [788]bitty box:
     * [789]bixen:
     * [790]bixie:
     * [791]black art:
     * [792]black hole:
     * [793]black magic:
     * [794]Black Screen of Death:
     * [795]Black Thursday:
     * [796]blammo:
     * [797]blargh:
     * [798]blast:
     * [799]blat:
     * [800]bletch:
     * [801]bletcherous:
     * [802]blink:
     * [803]blinkenlights:
     * [804]blit:
     * [805]blitter:
     * [806]blivet:
     * [807]bloatware:
     * [808]BLOB:
     * [809]block:
     * [810]block transfer computations:
     * [811]Bloggs Family:
     * [812]blow an EPROM:
     * [813]blow away:
     * [814]blow out:
     * [815]blow past:
     * [816]blow up:
     * [817]BLT:
     * [818]Blue Book:
     * [819]blue box:
     * [820]Blue Glue:
     * [821]blue goo:
     * [822]Blue Screen of Death:
     * [823]blue wire:
     * [824]blurgle:
     * [825]BNF:
     * [826]boa:
     * [827]board:
     * [828]boat anchor:
     * [829]bob:
     * [830]bodysurf code:
     * [831]BOF:
     * [832]BOFH:
     * [833]bogo-sort:
     * [834]bogometer:
     * [835]BogoMIPS:
     * [836]bogon:
     * [837]bogon filter:
     * [838]bogon flux:
     * [839]bogosity:
     * [840]bogotify:
     * [841]bogue out:
     * [842]bogus:
     * [843]Bohr bug:
     * [844]boink:
     * [845]bomb:
     * [846]bondage-and-discipline language:
     * [847]bonk/oif:
     * [848]book titles:
     * [849]boot:
     * [850]Borg:
     * [851]borken:
     * [852]bot:
     * [853]bot spot:
     * [854]bottom feeder:
     * [855]bottom-up implementation:
     * [856]bounce:
     * [857]bounce message:
     * [858]boustrophedon:
     * [859]box:
     * [860]boxed comments:
     * [861]boxen:
     * [862]boxology:
     * [863]bozotic:
     * [864]BQS:
     * [865]brain dump:
     * [866]brain fart:
     * [867]brain-damaged:
     * [868]brain-dead:
     * [869]braino:
     * [870]branch to Fishkill:
     * [871]bread crumbs:
     * [872]break:
     * [873]break-even point:
     * [874]breath-of-life packet:
     * [875]breedle:
     * [876]Breidbart Index:
     * [877]bring X to its knees:
     * [878]brittle:
     * [879]broadcast storm:
     * [880]brochureware:
     * [881]broken:
     * [882]broken arrow:
     * [883]BrokenWindows:
     * [884]broket:
     * [885]Brooks's Law:
     * [886]brown-paper-bag bug:
     * [887]browser:
     * [888]BRS:
     * [889]brute force:
     * [890]brute force and ignorance:
     * [891]BSD:
     * [892]BSOD:
     * [893]BUAF:
     * [894]BUAG:
     * [895]bubble sort:
     * [896]bucky bits:
     * [897]buffer chuck:
     * [898]buffer overflow:
     * [899]bug:
     * [900]bug-compatible:
     * [901]bug-for-bug compatible:
     * [902]bug-of-the-month club:
     * [903]buglix:
     * [904]bulletproof:
     * [905]bullschildt:
     * [906]bum:
     * [907]bump:
     * [908]burble:
     * [909]buried treasure:
     * [910]burn-in period:
     * [911]burst page:
     * [912]busy-wait:
     * [913]buzz:
     * [914]BWQ:
     * [915]by hand:
     * [916]byte:
     * [917]byte sex:
     * [918]bytesexual:
     * [919]Bzzzt! Wrong.:
   Node:B5, Next:[920]back door, Previous:[921]awk, Up:[922]= B =
   B5 //
   [common] Abbreviation for "Babylon 5", a science-fiction TV series as
   revered among hackers as was the original Star Trek.
   Node:back door, Next:[923]backbone cabal, Previous:[924]B5, Up:[925]=
   B =
   back door n.
   [common] A hole in the security of a system deliberately left in place
   by designers or maintainers. The motivation for such holes is not
   always sinister; some operating systems, for example, come out of the
   box with privileged accounts intended for use by field service
   technicians or the vendor's maintenance programmers. Syn. [926]trap
   door; may also be called a `wormhole'. See also [927]iron box,
   [928]cracker, [929]worm, [930]logic bomb.
   Historically, back doors have often lurked in systems longer than
   anyone expected or planned, and a few have become widely known. Ken
   Thompson's 1983 Turing Award lecture to the ACM admitted the existence
   of a back door in early Unix versions that may have qualified as the
   most fiendishly clever security hack of all time. In this scheme, the
   C compiler contained code that would recognize when the `login'
   command was being recompiled and insert some code recognizing a
   password chosen by Thompson, giving him entry to the system whether or
   not an account had been created for him.
   Normally such a back door could be removed by removing it from the
   source code for the compiler and recompiling the compiler. But to
   recompile the compiler, you have to use the compiler -- so Thompson
   also arranged that the compiler would recognize when it was compiling
   a version of itself, and insert into the recompiled compiler the code
   to insert into the recompiled `login' the code to allow Thompson entry
   -- and, of course, the code to recognize itself and do the whole thing
   again the next time around! And having done this once, he was then
   able to recompile the compiler from the original sources; the hack
   perpetuated itself invisibly, leaving the back door in place and
   active but with no trace in the sources.
   The talk that suggested this truly moby hack was published as
   "Reflections on Trusting Trust", "Communications of the ACM 27", 8
   (August 1984), pp. 761-763 (text available at
   [931] Ken Thompson has since confirmed
   that this hack was implemented and that the Trojan Horse code did
   appear in the login binary of a Unix Support group machine. Ken says
   the crocked compiler was never distributed. Your editor has heard two
   separate reports that suggest that the crocked login did make it out
   of Bell Labs, notably to BBN, and that it enabled at least one
   late-night login across the network by someone using the login name
   Node:backbone cabal, Next:[932]backbone site, Previous:[933]back door,
   Up:[934]= B =
   backbone cabal n.
   A group of large-site administrators who pushed through the [935]Great
   Renaming and reined in the chaos of [936]Usenet during most of the
   1980s. During most of its lifetime, the Cabal (as it was sometimes
   capitalized) steadfastly denied its own existence; it was almost
   obligatory for anyone privy to their secrets to respond "There is no
   Cabal" whenever the existence or activities of the group were
   speculated on in public.
   The result of this policy was an attractive aura of mystery. Even a
   decade after the cabal [937]mailing list disbanded in late 1988
   following a bitter internal catfight, many people believed (or claimed
   to believe) that it had not actually disbanded but only gone deeper
   underground with its power intact.
   This belief became a model for various paranoid theories about various
   Cabals with dark nefarious objectives beginning with taking over the
   Usenet or Internet. These paranoias were later satirized in ways that
   took on a life of their own. See [938]Eric Conspiracy for one example.
   See [939]NANA for the subsequent history of "the Cabal".
   Node:backbone site, Next:[940]backgammon, Previous:[941]backbone
   cabal, Up:[942]= B =
   backbone site n.,obs.
   Formerly, a key Usenet and email site, one that processes a large
   amount of third-party traffic, especially if it is the home site of
   any of the regional coordinators for the Usenet maps. Notable backbone
   sites as of early 1993, when this sense of the term was beginning to
   pass out of general use due to wide availability of cheap Internet
   connections, included uunet and the mail machines at Rutgers
   University, UC Berkeley, [943]DEC's Western Research Laboratories,
   Ohio State University, and the University of Texas. Compare [944]rib
   site, [945]leaf site.
   [1996 update: This term is seldom heard any more. The UUCP network
   world that gave it meaning has nearly disappeared; everyone is on the
   Internet now and network traffic is distributed in very different
   patterns. Today one might see references to a `backbone router'
   instead --ESR]
   Node:backgammon, Next:[946]background, Previous:[947]backbone site,
   Up:[948]= B =
   See [949]bignum (sense 3), [950]moby (sense 4), and [951]pseudoprime.
   Node:background, Next:[952]backreference, Previous:[953]backgammon,
   Up:[954]= B =
   background n.,adj.,vt.
   [common] To do a task `in background' is to do it whenever
   [955]foreground matters are not claiming your undivided attention, and
   `to background' something means to relegate it to a lower priority.
   "For now, we'll just print a list of nodes and links; I'm working on
   the graph-printing problem in background." 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 have queued up for their unconscious minds (a
   tack that one can often fruitfully take upon encountering an obstacle
   in creative work). Compare [956]amp off, [957]slopsucker.
   Technically, a task running in background is detached from the
   terminal where it was started (and often running at a lower priority);
   oppose [958]foreground. Nowadays this term is primarily associated
   with [959]Unix, but it appears to have been first used in this sense
   on OS/360.
   Node:backreference, Next:[960]backronym, Previous:[961]background,
   Up:[962]= B =
   backreference n.
   1. In a regular expression or pattern match, the text which was
   matched within grouping parentheses parentheses. 2. The part of the
   pattern which refers back to the matched text. 3. By extension,
   anything which refers back to something which has been seen or
   discussed before. "When you said `she' just now, who were you
   Node:backronym, Next:[963]backspace and overstrike,
   Previous:[964]backreference, Up:[965]= B =
   backronym n.
   [portmanteau of back + acronym] A word interpreted as an acronym that
   was not originally so intended. This is a special case of what
   linguists call `back formation'. Examples are given under [966]BASIC,
   [967]recursive acronym (Cygnus), [968]Acme, and [969]mung. Discovering
   backronyms is a common form of wordplay among hackers. Compare
   Node:backspace and overstrike, Next:[971]backward combatability,
   Previous:[972]backronym, Up:[973]= B =
   backspace and overstrike interj.
   [rare] Whoa! Back up. Used to suggest that someone just said or did
   something wrong. Once common among APL programmers; may now be
   Node:backward combatability, Next:[974]BAD, Previous:[975]backspace
   and overstrike, Up:[976]= B =
   backward combatability /bak'w*rd k*m-bat'*-bil'*-tee/ n.
   [CMU, Tektronix: from `backward compatibility'] A property of hardware
   or software revisions in which previous protocols, formats, layouts,
   etc. are irrevocably discarded in favor of `new and improved'
   protocols, formats, and layouts, leaving the previous ones not merely
   deprecated but actively defeated. (Too often, the old and new versions
   cannot definitively be distinguished, such that lingering instances of
   the previous ones yield crashes or other infelicitous effects, as
   opposed to a simple "version mismatch" message.) A backwards
   compatible change, on the other hand, allows old versions to coexist
   without crashes or error messages, but too many major changes
   incorporating elaborate backwards compatibility processing can lead to
   extreme [977]software bloat. See also [978]flag day.
   Node:BAD, Next:[979]Bad and Wrong, Previous:[980]backward
   combatability, Up:[981]= B =
   BAD /B-A-D/ adj.
   [IBM: acronym, `Broken As Designed'] Said of a program that is
   [982]bogus because of bad design and misfeatures rather than because
   of bugginess. See [983]working as designed.
   Node:Bad and Wrong, Next:[984]Bad Thing, Previous:[985]BAD, Up:[986]=
   B =
   Bad and Wrong adj.
   [Durham, UK] Said of something that is both badly designed and wrongly
   executed. This common term is the prototype of, and is used by
   contrast with, three less common terms - Bad and Right (a kludge,
   something ugly but functional); Good and Wrong (an overblown GUI or
   other attractive nuisance); and (rare praise) Good and Right. These
   terms entered common use at Durham c.1994 and may have been imported
   from elsewhere; they are also in use at Oxford, and the emphatic form
   "Evil, Bad and Wrong" (abbreviated EBW) is reported fromm there. There
   are standard abbreviations: they start with B&R, a typo for "Bad and
   Wrong". Consequently, B&W is actually "Bad and Right", G&R = "Good and
   Wrong", and G&W = "Good and Right". Compare [987]evil and rude,
   [988]Good Thing, [989]Bad Thing.
   Node:Bad Thing, Next:[990]bag on the side, Previous:[991]Bad and
   Wrong, Up:[992]= B =
   Bad Thing n.
   [very common; from the 1930 Sellar & Yeatman parody "1066 And All
   That"] Something that 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
   [993]Good Thing. British correspondents confirm that [994]Bad Thing
   and [995]Good Thing (and prob. therefore [996]Right Thing and
   [997]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.
   It is very common among American hackers, but not in mainstream usage
   here. Compare [998]Bad and Wrong.
   Node:bag on the side, Next:[999]bagbiter, Previous:[1000]Bad Thing,
   Up:[1001]= B =
   bag on the side n.
   [prob. originally related to a colostomy bag] An extension to an
   established hack that is supposed to add some functionality to the
   original. Usually derogatory, implying that the original was being
   overextended and should have been thrown away, and the new product is
   ugly, inelegant, or bloated. Also v. phrase, `to hang a bag on the
   side [of]'. "C++? That's just a bag on the side of C ...." "They want
   me to hang a bag on the side of the accounting system."
   Node:bagbiter, Next:[1002]bagbiting, Previous:[1003]bag on the side,
   Up:[1004]= B =
   bagbiter /bag'bi:t-*r/ n.
   1. Something, such as a program or a computer, that fails to work, or
   works in a remarkably clumsy manner. "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: [1005]loser, [1006]cretin, [1007]chomper. 3. `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 a douche bag or the scrotum (we have reports of
   "Bite the douche bag!" being used as a taunt at MIT 1970-1976, and we
   have another report that "Bite the bag!" was in common use at least as
   early as 1965), but in their current usage they have become almost
   completely sanitized.
   ITS's [1008]lexiphage program was the first and to date only known
   example of a program intended to be a bagbiter.
   Node:bagbiting, Next:[1009]baggy pantsing, Previous:[1010]bagbiter,
   Up:[1011]= B =
   bagbiting adj.
   Having the quality of a [1012]bagbiter. "This bagbiting system won't
   let me compute the factorial of a negative number." Compare
   [1013]losing, [1014]cretinous, [1015]bletcherous, `barfucious' (under
   [1016]barfulous) and `chomping' (under [1017]chomp).
   Node:baggy pantsing, Next:[1018]balloonian variable,
   Previous:[1019]bagbiting, Up:[1020]= B =
   baggy pantsing v.
   [Georgia Tech] A "baggy pantsing" is used to reprimand hackers who
   incautiously leave their terminals unlocked. The affected user will
   come back to find a post from them on internal newsgroups discussing
   exactly how baggy their pants are, an accepted stand-in for
   "unattentive user who left their work unprotected in the clusters". A
   properly-done baggy pantsing is highly mocking and humorous (see
   examples below). It is considered bad form to post a baggy pantsing to
   off-campus newsgroups or the more technical, serious groups. A
   particularly nice baggy pantsing may be "claimed" by immediately
   quoting the message in full, followed by your sig; this has the added
   benefit of keeping the embarassed victim from being able to delete the
   post. Interesting baggy-pantsings have been done involving adding
   commands to login scripts to repost the message every time the unlucky
   user logs in; Unix boxes on the residential network, when cracked,
   oftentimes have their homepages replaced (after being politely
   backedup to another file) with a baggy-pants message; .plan files are
   also occasionally targeted. Usage: "Prof. Greenlee fell asleep in the
   Solaris cluster again; we baggy-pantsed him to"
   Node:balloonian variable, Next:[1021]bamf, Previous:[1022]baggy
   pantsing, Up:[1023]= B =
   balloonian variable n.
   [Commodore users; perh. a deliberate phonetic mangling of `boolean
   variable'?] Any variable that doesn't actually hold or control state,
   but must nevertheless be declared, checked, or set. A typical
   balloonian variable started out as a flag attached to some environment
   feature that either became obsolete or was planned but never
   implemented. Compatibility concerns (or politics attached to same) may
   require that such a flag be treated as though it were [1024]live.
   Node:bamf, Next:[1025]banana label, Previous:[1026]balloonian
   variable, Up:[1027]= B =
   bamf /bamf/
   1. [from X-Men comics; originally "bampf"] interj. Notional sound made
   by a person or object teleporting in or out of the hearer's vicinity.
   Often used in [1028]virtual reality (esp. [1029]MUD) electronic
   [1030]fora when a character wishes to make a dramatic entrance or
   exit. 2. The sound of magical transformation, used in virtual reality
   [1031]fora like MUDs. 3. In MUD circles, "bamf" is also used to refer
   to the act by which a MUD server sends a special notification to the
   MUD client to switch its connection to another server ("I'll set up
   the old site to just bamf people over to our new location."). 4. Used
   by MUDders on occasion in a more general sense related to sense 3, to
   refer to directing someone to another location or resource ("A user
   was asking about some technobabble so I bamfed them to
   Node:banana label, Next:[1033]banana problem, Previous:[1034]bamf,
   Up:[1035]= B =
   banana label n.
   The labels often used on the sides of [1036]macrotape reels, so called
   because they are shaped roughly like blunt-ended bananas. This term,
   like macrotapes themselves, is still current but visibly headed for
   Node:banana problem, Next:[1037]binary four, Previous:[1038]banana
   label, Up:[1039]= B =
   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 [1040]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
   [1041]creeping elegance, [1042]creeping featuritis). See item 176
   under [1043]HAKMEM, which describes a banana problem in a
   [1044]Dissociated Press implementation. Also, see [1045]one-banana
   problem for a superficially similar but unrelated usage.
   Node:binary four, Next:[1046]bandwidth, Previous:[1047]banana problem,
   Up:[1048]= B =
   binary four n.
   [Usenet] The finger, in the sense of `digitus impudicus'. This comes
   from an analogy between binary and the hand, i.e. 1=00001=thumb,
   2=00010=index finger, 3=00011=index and thumb, 4=00100. Considered
   silly. Prob. from humorous derivative of [1049]finger, sense 4.
   Node:bandwidth, Next:[1050]bang, Previous:[1051]binary four,
   Up:[1052]= B =
   bandwidth n.
   1. [common] 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." Compare [1053]low-bandwidth. This generalized usage began to
   go mainstream after the Internet population explosion of 1993-1994. 2.
   Attention span. 3. On [1054]Usenet, a measure of network capacity that
   is often wasted by people complaining about how items posted by others
   are a waste of bandwidth.
   Node:bang, Next:[1055]bang on, Previous:[1056]bandwidth, Up:[1057]= B
   1. n. Common spoken name for ! (ASCII 0100001), especially when used
   in pronouncing a [1058]bang path in spoken hackish. In [1059]elder
   days this was considered a CMUish usage, with MIT and Stanford hackers
   preferring [1060]excl or [1061]shriek; but the spread of Unix has
   carried `bang' with it (esp. via the term [1062]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 [1063]shriek, [1064]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 [1065]thinko immediately after one has been called on
   Node:bang on, Next:[1066]bang path, Previous:[1067]bang, Up:[1068]= B
   bang on vt.
   To stress-test a piece of hardware or software: "I banged on the new
   version of the simulator all day yesterday and it didn't crash once. I
   guess it is ready for release." The term [1069]pound on is synonymous.
   Node:bang path, Next:[1070]banner, Previous:[1071]bang on, Up:[1072]=
   B =
   bang path n.
   [now historical] An old-style UUCP electronic-mail address specifying
   hops to get from some assumed-reachable location to the addressee, so
   called because each [1073]hop is signified by a [1074]bang sign. Thus,
   for example, the path ...!bigsite!foovax!barbox!me directs people 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 [1075]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,
   ihnp4}!rice!beta!gamma!me). Bang paths of 8 to 10 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 [1076]Internet address, [1077]the network, and [1078]sitename.
   Node:banner, Next:[1079]banner ad, Previous:[1080]bang path,
   Up:[1081]= B =
   banner n.
   1. The title page added to printouts by most print spoolers (see
   [1082]spool). Typically includes user or account ID information in
   very large character-graphics capitals. Also called a `burst page',
   because it indicates where to burst (tear apart) fanfold paper to
   separate one user's printout from the next. 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({1,6}).
   3. On interactive software, a first screen containing a logo and/or
   author credits and/or a copyright notice. This is probably now the
   commonest sense.
   Node:banner ad, Next:[1083]banner site, Previous:[1084]banner,
   Up:[1085]= B =
   banner ad n.
   Any of the annoying graphical advertisements that span the tops of way
   too many Web pages.
   Node:banner site, Next:[1086]bar, Previous:[1087]banner ad, Up:[1088]=
   B =
   banner site n.
   [warez d00dz] A FTP site storing pirated files where one must first
   click on several banners and/or subscribe to various `free' services,
   usually generating some form of revenues for the site owner, to be
   able to access the site. More often than not, the username/password
   painfully obtained by clicking on banners and subscribing to bogus
   services or mailing lists turns out to be non-working or gives access
   to a site that always responds busy. See [1089]ratio site, [1090]leech
   Node:bar, Next:[1091]bare metal, Previous:[1092]banner site,
   Up:[1093]= B =
   bar /bar/ n.
   1. [very common] The second [1094]metasyntactic variable, after
   [1095]foo and before [1096]baz. "Suppose we have two functions: FOO
   and BAR. FOO calls BAR...." 2. Often appended to [1097]foo to produce
   Node:bare metal, Next:[1099]barf, Previous:[1100]bar, Up:[1101]= B =
   bare metal n.
   1. [common] New computer hardware, unadorned with such snares and
   delusions as an [1102]operating system, an [1103]HLL, or even
   assembler. Commonly used in the phrase `programming on the bare
   metal', which refers to the arduous work of [1104]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.
   `Programming on the bare metal' is also used to describe a style of
   [1105]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 instructions (or,
   as in the famous case described in [1106]The Story of Mel (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 such as industrial embedded systems, and in
   the code of hackers who just can't let go of that low-level control.
   See [1107]Real Programmer.
   In the world of personal computing, bare metal programming (especially
   in sense 1 but sometimes also in sense 2) is often considered a
   [1108]Good Thing, or at least a necessary evil (because these machines
   have often been sufficiently slow and poorly designed to make it
   necessary; see [1109]ill-behaved). There, the term usually refers to
   bypassing the BIOS or OS interface and writing the application to
   directly access device registers and machine addresses. "To get 19.2
   kilobaud on the serial port, you need to get down to the bare metal."
   People who can do this sort of thing well are held in high regard.
   Node:barf, Next:[1110]barfmail, Previous:[1111]bare metal, Up:[1112]=
   B =
   barf /barf/ n.,v.
   [common; 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 [1113]bletch. 2. vi. 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, perhaps with a suitable error message, perhaps
   not. Examples: "The division operation barfs if you try to divide by
   0." (That is, the division operation checks for an attempt to divide
   by zero, and if one is encountered it causes the operation to fail in
   some unspecified, but generally obvious, manner.) "The text editor
   barfs if you try to read in a new file before writing out the old
   one." See [1114]choke, [1115]gag. In Commonwealth Hackish, `barf' is
   generally replaced by `puke' or `vom'. [1116]barf is sometimes also
   used as a [1117]metasyntactic variable, like [1118]foo or [1119]bar.
   Node:barfmail, Next:[1120]barfulation, Previous:[1121]barf, Up:[1122]=
   B =
   barfmail n.
   Multiple [1123]bounce messages accumulating to the level of serious
   annoyance, or worse. The sort of thing that happens when an
   inter-network mail gateway goes down or wonky.
   Node:barfulation, Next:[1124]barfulous, Previous:[1125]barfmail,
   Up:[1126]= B =
   barfulation /bar`fyoo-lay'sh*n/ interj.
   Variation of [1127]barf used around the Stanford area. An exclamation,
   expressing disgust. On seeing some particularly bad code one might
   exclaim, "Barfulation! Who wrote this, Quux?"
   Node:barfulous, Next:[1128]barn, Previous:[1129]barfulation,
   Up:[1130]= B =
   barfulous /bar'fyoo-l*s/ adj.
   (alt. `barfucious', /bar-fyoo-sh*s/) Said of something that would make
   anyone barf, if only for esthetic reasons.
   Node:barn, Next:[1131]barney, Previous:[1132]barfulous, Up:[1133]= B =
   barn n.
   [uncommon; prob. from the nuclear military] An unexpectedly large
   quantity of something: a unit of measurement. "Why is /var/adm taking
   up so much space?" "The logs have grown to several barns." The source
   of this is clear: when physicists were first studying nuclear
   interactions, the probability was thought to be proportional to the
   cross-sectional area of the nucleus (this probability is still called
   the cross-section). Upon experimenting, they discovered the
   interactions were far more probable than expected; the nuclei were `as
   big as a barn'. The units for cross-sections were christened Barns,
   (10^-24 cm^2) and the book containing cross-sections has a picture of
   a barn on the cover.
   Node:barney, Next:[1134]baroque, Previous:[1135]barn, Up:[1136]= B =
   barney n.
   In Commonwealth hackish, `barney' is to [1137]fred (sense #1) as
   [1138]bar is to [1139]foo. That is, people who commonly use `fred' as
   their first metasyntactic variable will often use `barney' second. The
   reference is, of course, to Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble in the
   Flintstones cartoons.
   Node:baroque, Next:[1140]BASIC, Previous:[1141]barney, Up:[1142]= B =
   baroque adj.
   [common] Feature-encrusted; complex; gaudy; verging on excessive. Said
   of hardware or (esp.) software designs, this has many of the
   connotations of [1143]elephantine or [1144]monstrosity but is less
   extreme and not pejorative in itself. "Metafont even has features to
   introduce random variations to its letterform output. Now that is
   baroque!" See also [1145]rococo.
   Node:BASIC, Next:[1146]batbelt, Previous:[1147]baroque, Up:[1148]= B =
   BASIC /bay'-sic/ n.
   A programming language, originally designed for Dartmouth's
   experimental timesharing system in the early 1960s, which for many
   years was the leading cause of brain damage in proto-hackers. Edsger
   W. Dijkstra observed in "Selected Writings on Computing: A Personal
   Perspective" that "It is practically impossible to teach good
   programming style to students that have had prior exposure to BASIC:
   as potential programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of
   regeneration." This is another case (like [1149]Pascal) of the
   cascading [1150]lossage that happens when a language deliberately
   designed as an educational toy gets taken too seriously. A novice can
   write short BASIC programs (on the order of 10-20 lines) very easily;
   writing anything longer (a) is very painful, and (b) encourages bad
   habits that will make it harder to use more powerful languages well.
   This wouldn't be so bad if historical accidents hadn't made BASIC so
   common on low-end micros in the 1980s. As it is, it probably ruined
   tens of thousands of potential wizards.
   [1995: Some languages called `BASIC' aren't quite this nasty any more,
   having acquired Pascal- and C-like procedures and control structures
   and shed their line numbers. --ESR]
   Note: the name is commonly parsed as Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic
   Instruction Code, but this is a [1151]backronym. BASIC was originally
   named Basic, simply because it was a simple and basic programming
   language. Because most programming language names were in fact
   acronyms, BASIC was often capitalized just out of habit or to be
   silly. No acronym for BASIC originally existed or was intended (as one
   can verify by reading texts through the early 1970s). Later, around
   the mid-1970s, people began to make up backronyms for BASIC because
   they weren't sure. Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code is
   the one that caught on.
   Node:batbelt, Next:[1152]batch, Previous:[1153]BASIC, Up:[1154]= B =
   batbelt n.
   Many hackers routinely hang numerous devices such as pagers,
   cell-phones, personal organizers, leatherman multitools, pocket
   knives, flashlights, walkie-talkies, even miniature computers from
   their belts. When many of these devices are worn at once, the hacker's
   belt somewhat resembles Batman's utility belt; hence it is referred to
   as a batbelt.
   Node:batch, Next:[1155]bathtub curve, Previous:[1156]batbelt,
   Up:[1157]= B =
   batch adj.
   1. 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 command 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. 2. Performance
   of dreary tasks all at one sitting. "I finally sat down in batch mode
   and wrote out checks for all those bills; I guess they'll turn the
   electricity back on next week..." 3. `batching up': Accumulation of a
   number of small tasks that can be lumped together for greater
   efficiency. "I'm batching up those letters to send sometime" "I'm
   batching up bottles to take to the recycling center."
   Node:bathtub curve, Next:[1158]baud, Previous:[1159]batch, Up:[1160]=
   B =
   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 0 for most of the system's lifetime, then rising again as it
   `tires out'. See also [1161]burn-in period, [1162]infant mortality.
   Node:baud, Next:[1163]baud barf, Previous:[1164]bathtub curve,
   Up:[1165]= B =
   baud /bawd/ n.
   [simplified from its technical meaning] n. Bits per second. Hence
   kilobaud or Kbaud, thousands of 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. Most hackers are
   aware of these nuances but blithely ignore them.
   Historical note: `baud' was originally a unit of telegraph signalling
   speed, set at one pulse per second. It was proposed at the November,
   1926 conference of the Comit� Consultatif International Des
   Communications T�l�graphiques as an improvement on the then standard
   practice of referring to line speeds in terms of words per minute, and
   named for Jean Maurice Emile Baudot (1845-1903), a French engineer who
   did a lot of pioneering work in early teleprinters.
   Node:baud barf, Next:[1166]baz, Previous:[1167]baud, Up:[1168]= B =
   baud barf /bawd barf/ n.
   The garbage one gets a terminal (or terminal emulator) 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 [1169]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.
   Node:baz, Next:[1170]bazaar, Previous:[1171]baud barf, Up:[1172]= B =
   baz /baz/ n.
   1. [common] The third [1173]metasyntactic variable "Suppose we have
   three functions: FOO, BAR, and BAZ. FOO calls BAR, which calls
   BAZ...." (See also [1174]fum) 2. interj. A term of mild annoyance. In
   this usage the term is often drawn out for 2 or 3 seconds, producing
   an effect not unlike the bleating of a sheep; /baaaaaaz/. 3.
   Occasionally appended to [1175]foo to produce `foobaz'.
   Earlier versions of this lexicon derived `baz' as a Stanford
   corruption of [1176]bar. However, Pete Samson (compiler of the
   [1177]TMRC lexicon) reports it was already current when he joined TMRC
   in 1958. He says "It came from "Pogo". Albert the Alligator, when
   vexed or outraged, would shout `Bazz Fazz!' or `Rowrbazzle!' The club
   layout was said to model the (mythical) New England counties of
   Rowrfolk and Bassex (Rowrbazzle mingled with
   Node:bazaar, Next:[1178]bboard, Previous:[1179]baz, Up:[1180]= B =
   bazaar n.,adj.
   In 1997, after meditatating on the success of [1181]Linux for three
   years, the Jargon File's own editor ESR wrote an analytical paper on
   hacker culture and development models titled [1182]The Cathedral and
   the Bazaar. The main argument of the paper was that [1183]Brooks's Law
   is not the whole story; given the right social machinery, debugging
   can be efficiently parallelized across large numbers of programmers.
   The title metaphor caught on (see also [1184]cathedral), and the style
   of development typical in the Linux community is now often referred to
   as the bazaar mode. Its characteristics include releasing code early
   and often, and actively seeking the largest possible pool of peer
   Node:bboard, Next:[1185]BBS, Previous:[1186]bazaar, Up:[1187]= B =
   bboard /bee'bord/ n.
   [contraction of `bulletin board'] 1. Any electronic bulletin board;
   esp. used of [1188]BBS systems running on personal micros, less
   frequently of a Usenet [1189]newsgroup (in fact, use of this term for
   a newsgroup generally marks one either as a [1190]newbie fresh in from
   the BBS world or as a real old-timer predating Usenet). 2. At CMU and
   other colleges with similar facilities, refers to campus-wide
   electronic bulletin boards. 3. The term `physical bboard' is sometimes
   used to refer to an old-fashioned, non-electronic cork-and-thumbtack
   memo board. At CMU, it refers to a particular one outside the CS
   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".
   Node:BBS, Next:[1191]BCPL, Previous:[1192]bboard, Up:[1193]= B =
   BBS /B-B-S/ n.
   [common; abbreviation, `Bulletin Board System'] An electronic bulletin
   board system; that is, a message database where people can log in and
   leave broadcast messages for others grouped (typically) into
   [1194]topic groups. The term was especially applied to the thousands
   of local BBS systems that operated during the pre-Internet
   microcomputer era of roughly 1980 to 1995, 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 such as CompuServe and GEnie tended to consider local BBSes
   the low-rent district of the hacker culture, but they served a
   valuable function by knitting together lots of hackers and users in
   the personal-micro world who would otherwise have been unable to
   exchange code at all. Post-Internet, BBSs are likely to be local
   newsgroups on an ISP; efficiency has increased but a certain flavor
   has been lost. See also [1195]bboard.
   Node:BCPL, Next:[1196]beam, Previous:[1197]BBS, Up:[1198]= B =
   BCPL // n.
   [abbreviation, `Basic Combined Programming Language') A programming
   language developed by Martin Richards in Cambridge in 1967. It is
   remarkable for its rich syntax, small size of compiler (it can be run
   in 16k) and extreme portability. It reached break-even point at a very
   early stage, and was the language in which the original [1199]hello
   world program was written. It has been ported to so many different
   systems that its creator confesses to having lost count. It has only
   one data type (a machine word) which can be used as an integer, a
   character, a floating point number, a pointer, or almost anything
   else, depending on context. BCPL was a precursor of C, which inherited
   some of its features.
   Node:beam, Next:[1200]beanie key, Previous:[1201]BCPL, Up:[1202]= B =
   beam vt.
   [from Star Trek Classic's "Beam me up, Scotty!"] 1. To transfer
   [1203]softcopy of a file electronically; most often in combining forms
   such as `beam me a copy' or `beam that over to his site'. 2. Palm
   Pilot users very commonly use this term for the act of exchanging bits
   via the infrared links on their machines (this term seems to have
   originated with the ill-fated Newton Message Pad). Compare
   [1204]blast, [1205]snarf, [1206]BLT.
   Node:beanie key, Next:[1207]beep, Previous:[1208]beam, Up:[1209]= B =
   beanie key n.
   [Mac users] See [1210]command key.
   Node:beep, Next:[1211]Befunge, Previous:[1212]beanie key, Up:[1213]= B
   beep n.,v.
   Syn. [1214]feep. This term is techspeak under MS-DOS and OS/2, and
   seems to be generally preferred among micro hobbyists.
   Node:Befunge, Next:[1215]beige toaster, Previous:[1216]beep,
   Up:[1217]= B =
   Befunge n.
   A worthy companion to [1218]INTERCAL; a computer language family which
   escapes the quotidian limitation of linear control flow and embraces
   program counters flying through multiple dimensions with exotic
   topologies. Sadly, the Befunge home page has vanished, but a Befunge
   version of the [1219]hello world program is at
   Node:beige toaster, Next:[1221]bells and whistles,
   Previous:[1222]Befunge, Up:[1223]= B =
   beige toaster n.
   A Macintosh. See [1224]toaster; compare [1225]Macintrash,
   Node:bells and whistles, Next:[1227]bells whistles and gongs,
   Previous:[1228]beige toaster, Up:[1229]= B =
   bells and whistles n.
   [common] Features added to a program or system to make it more
   [1230]flavorful from a hacker's point of view, without necessarily
   adding to its utility for its primary function. Distinguished from
   [1231]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." No one seems to know what distinguishes a bell from a
   whistle. The recognized emphatic form is "bells, whistles, and gongs".
   It used to be thought that this term derived from the toyboxes on
   theater organs. However, the "and gongs" strongly suggests a different
   origin, at sea. Before powered horns, ships routinely used bells,
   whistles, and gongs to signal each other over longer distances than
   voice can carry.
   Node:bells whistles and gongs, Next:[1232]benchmark,
   Previous:[1233]bells and whistles, Up:[1234]= B =
   bells whistles and gongs n.
   A standard elaborated form of [1235]bells and whistles; typically said
   with a pronounced and ironic accent on the `gongs'.
   Node:benchmark, Next:[1236]Berkeley Quality Software,
   Previous:[1237]bells whistles and gongs, Up:[1238]= B =
   benchmark n.
   [techspeak] 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, Rhealstone
   (see [1239]h), the Gabriel LISP benchmarks (see [1240]gabriel), the
   SPECmark suite, and LINPACK. See also [1241]machoflops, [1242]MIPS,
   [1243]smoke and mirrors.
   Node:Berkeley Quality Software, Next:[1244]berklix,
   Previous:[1245]benchmark, Up:[1246]= B =
   Berkeley Quality Software adj.
   (often abbreviated `BQS') Term used in a pejorative sense to refer to
   software that was apparently created by rather spaced-out hackers late
   at night to solve some unique problem. It usually has nonexistent,
   incomplete, or incorrect documentation, has been tested on at least
   two examples, and core dumps when anyone else attempts to use it. This
   term was frequently applied to early versions of the dbx(1) debugger.
   See also [1247]Berzerkeley.
   Note to British and Commonwealth readers: that's /berk'lee/, not
   /bark'lee/ as in British Received Pronunciation.
   Node:berklix, Next:[1248]Berzerkeley, Previous:[1249]Berkeley Quality
   Software, Up:[1250]= B =
   berklix /berk'liks/ n.,adj.
   [contraction of `Berkeley Unix'] See [1251]BSD. Not used at Berkeley
   itself. May be more common among [1252]suits attempting to sound like
   cognoscenti than among hackers, who usually just say `BSD'.
   Node:Berzerkeley, Next:[1253]beta, Previous:[1254]berklix, Up:[1255]=
   B =
   Berzerkeley /b*r-zer'klee/ n.
   [from `berserk', via the name of a now-deceased record label; poss.
   originated by famed columnist Herb Caen] Humorous distortion of
   `Berkeley' used esp. to refer to the practices or products of the
   [1256]BSD Unix hackers. See [1257]software bloat,
   [1258]Missed'em-five, [1259]Berkeley Quality Software.
   Mainstream use of this term in reference to the cultural and political
   peculiarities of UC Berkeley as a whole has been reported from as far
   back as the 1960s.
   Node:beta, Next:[1260]BFI, Previous:[1261]Berzerkeley, Up:[1262]= B =
   beta /bay't*/, /be't*/ or (Commonwealth) /bee't*/ n.
   1. Mostly working, but still under test; usu. used with `in': `in
   beta'. In the [1263]Real World, systems (hardware or software)
   software often go through two stages of release testing: Alpha
   (in-house) and Beta (out-house?). Beta releases are generally made to
   a group of lucky (or unlucky) trusted customers. 2. Anything that is
   new and experimental. "His girlfriend is in beta" means that he is
   still testing for compatibility and reserving judgment. 3. Flaky;
   dubious; suspect (since beta software is notoriously buggy).
   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 (or self-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,
   and the D test was the C test repeated after the model had been in
   production a while.
   Node:BFI, Next:[1264]bible, Previous:[1265]beta, Up:[1266]= B =
   BFI /B-F-I/ n.
   See [1267]brute force and ignorance. Also encountered in the variants
   `BFMI', `brute force and massive ignorance' and `BFBI' `brute force
   and bloody ignorance'. In dome parts of the U.S. this abbreviation was
   probably reinforced by a company called Browning-Ferris Industries who
   used to be in the waste-management business; a large BFI logo in
   white-on-blue could be seen on the sides of garbage trucks.
   Node:bible, Next:[1268]BiCapitalization, Previous:[1269]BFI,
   Up:[1270]= B =
   bible n.
   1. One of a small number of fundamental source books such as
   [1271]Knuth, [1272]K&R, or the [1273]Camel Book. 2. The most detailed
   and authoritative reference for a particular language, operating
   system, or other complex software system.
   Node:BiCapitalization, Next:[1274]B1FF, Previous:[1275]bible,
   Up:[1276]= B =
   BiCapitalization n.
   The act said to have been performed on trademarks (such as
   [1277]PostScript, NeXT, [1278]NeWS, VisiCalc, FrameMaker, TK!solver,
   EasyWriter) that have been raised above the ruck of common coinage by
   nonstandard capitalization. Too many [1279]marketroid types think this
   sort of thing is really cute, even the 2,317th time they do it.
   Compare [1280]studlycaps.
   Node:B1FF, Next:[1281]BI, Previous:[1282]BiCapitalization, Up:[1283]=
   B =
   B1FF /bif/ [Usenet] (alt. `BIFF') n.
   The most famous [1284]pseudo, and the prototypical [1285]newbie.
   Articles from B1FF feature all uppercase letters sprinkled liberally
   with bangs, typos, `cute' misspellings (EVRY BUDY LUVS GOOD OLD BIFF
   LIKE THIS!!!), use (and often misuse) of fragments of [1286]talk mode
   abbreviations, a long [1287]sig block (sometimes even a [1288]doubled
   sig), and unbounded naivete. B1FF posts articles using his elder
   brother's VIC-20. B1FF's location is a mystery, as his articles appear
   to come from a variety of sites. However, [1289]BITNET seems to be the
   most frequent origin. The theory that B1FF is a denizen of BITNET is
   supported by B1FF's (unfortunately invalid) electronic mail address:
   [email protected].
   [1993: Now It Can Be Told! My spies inform me that B1FF was originally
   created by Joe Talmadge , also the author of the
   infamous and much-plagiarized "Flamer's Bible". The BIFF filter he
   wrote was later passed to Richard Sexton, who posted BIFFisms much
   more widely. Versions have since been posted for the amusement of the
   net at large. See also [1290]Jeff K. --ESR]
   Node:BI, Next:[1291]biff, Previous:[1292]B1FF, Up:[1293]= B =
   BI //
   Common written abbreviation for [1294]Breidbart Index.
   Node:biff, Next:[1295]Big Gray Wall, Previous:[1296]BI, Up:[1297]= B =
   biff /bif/ vt.
   To notify someone of incoming mail. From the BSD utility biff(1),
   which was in turn named after a friendly dog who used to chase
   frisbees in the halls at UCB while 4.2BSD was in development. There
   was a legend that it had a habit of barking whenever the mailman came,
   but the author of biff says this is not true. No relation to
   Node:Big Gray Wall, Next:[1299]big iron, Previous:[1300]biff,
   Up:[1301]= B =
   Big Gray Wall n.
   What faces a [1302]VMS user searching for documentation. A full VMS
   kit comes on a pallet, the documentation taking up around 15 feet of
   shelf space before the addition of layered products such as compilers,
   databases, multivendor networking, and programming tools. Recent
   (since VMS version 5) documentation comes with gray binders; under VMS
   version 4 the binders were orange (`big orange wall'), and under
   version 3 they were blue. See [1303]VMS. Often contracted to `Gray
   Node:big iron, Next:[1304]Big Red Switch, Previous:[1305]Big Gray
   Wall, Up:[1306]= B =
   big iron n.
   [common] Large, expensive, ultra-fast computers. Used generally of
   [1307]number-crunching supercomputers such as Crays, but can include
   more conventional big commercial IBMish mainframes. Term of approval;
   compare [1308]heavy metal, oppose [1309]dinosaur.
   Node:Big Red Switch, Next:[1310]Big Room, Previous:[1311]big iron,
   Up:[1312]= B =
   Big Red Switch n.
   [IBM] The power switch on a computer, esp. the `Emergency Pull' switch
   on an IBM [1313]mainframe or the power switch on an IBM PC where it
   really is large and red. "This !@%$% [1314]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 [1315]TLAs, this is often abbreviated
   as `BRS' (this has also become established on FidoNet and in the PC
   [1316]clone world). It is alleged that the emergency pull switch on an
   IBM 360/91 actually fired a non-conducting bolt into the main power
   feed; the BRSes on more recent mainframes physically drop a block into
   place so that they can't be pushed back in. People get fired for
   pulling them, especially inappropriately (see also [1317]molly-guard).
   Compare [1318]power cycle, [1319]three-finger salute, [1320]120 reset;
   see also [1321]scram switch.
   Node:Big Room, Next:[1322]big win, Previous:[1323]Big Red Switch,
   Up:[1324]= B =
   Big Room n.
   (Also `Big Blue Room') The extremely large room with the blue ceiling
   and intensely bright light (during the day) or black ceiling with lots
   of tiny night-lights (during the night) found outside all computer
   installations. "He can't come to the phone right now, he's somewhere
   out in the Big Room."
   Node:big win, Next:[1325]big-endian, Previous:[1326]Big Room,
   Up:[1327]= B =
   big win n.
   1. [common] Major success. 2. [MIT] Serendipity. "Yes, those two
   physicists discovered high-temperature superconductivity in a batch of
   ceramic that had been prepared incorrectly according to their
   experimental schedule. Small mistake; big win!" See [1328]win big.
   Node:big-endian, Next:[1329]bignum, Previous:[1330]big win, Up:[1331]=
   B =
   big-endian adj.
   [common; From Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" via the famous paper "On
   Holy Wars and a Plea for Peace" by Danny Cohen, USC/ISI IEN 137, dated
   April 1, 1980] 1. Describes a computer architecture in which, within a
   given multi-byte numeric representation, the most significant byte has
   the lowest address (the word is stored `big-end-first'). Most
   processors, including the IBM 370 family, the [1332]PDP-10, the
   Motorola microprocessor families, and most of the various RISC designs
   are big-endian. Big-endian byte order is also sometimes called
   `network order'. See [1333]little-endian, [1334]middle-endian,
   [1335]NUXI problem, [1336]swab. 2. An [1337]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 U.K. the Joint Networking Team
   had decided to do it the other way round before the Internet domain
   standard was established. Most gateway sites have [1338]ad-hockery in
   their mailers to handle this, but can still be confused. In
   particular, the address [email protected] could be interpreted in
   JANET's big-endian way as one in the U.K. (domain uk) or in the
   standard little-endian way as one in the domain as (American Samoa) on
   the opposite side of the world.
   Node:bignum, Next:[1339]bigot, Previous:[1340]big-endian, Up:[1341]= B
   bignum /big'nuhm/ n.
   [common; orig. from MIT MacLISP] 1. [techspeak] A multiple-precision
   computer representation for very large integers. 2. More generally,
   any very large number. "Have you ever looked at the United States
   Budget? There's bignums for you!" 3. [Stanford] In backgammon, large
   numbers on the dice especially a roll of double fives or double sixes
   (compare [1342]moby, sense 4). See also [1343]El Camino Bignum.
   Sense 1 may require some explanation. 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)
   (2,147,483,648) or (on a [1344]bitty box) 2^(15) (32,768). 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:
   Node:bigot, Next:[1345]bit, Previous:[1346]bignum, Up:[1347]= B =
   bigot n.
   [common] A person who is religiously attached to a particular
   computer, language, operating system, editor, or other tool (see
   [1348]religious issues). Usually found with a specifier; thus, `cray
   bigot', `ITS bigot', `APL bigot', `VMS bigot', `Berkeley bigot'. Real
   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 obsolete the favored tool. It is
   truly said "You can tell a bigot, but you can't tell him much."
   Compare [1349]weenie, [1350]Amiga Persecution Complex.
   Node:bit, Next:[1351]bit bang, Previous:[1352]bigot, Up:[1353]= B =
   bit n.
   [from the mainstream meaning and `Binary digIT'] 1. [techspeak] The
   unit of information; the amount of information obtained by asking a
   yes-or-no question for which the two outcomes are equally probable. 2.
   [techspeak] A computational quantity that can take on one of two
   values, such as true and false or 0 and 1. 3. A mental flag: a
   reminder that something should be done eventually. "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.) 4. More generally, a (possibly incorrect) mental
   state of belief. "I have a bit set that says that you were the last
   guy to hack on EMACS." (Meaning "I think you were the last guy to hack
   on EMACS, and what I am about to say is predicated on this, so please
   stop me if this isn't true.")
   "I just need one bit from you" is a polite way of indicating that you
   intend only a short interruption for a question that can presumably be
   answered yes or no.
   A bit is said to be `set' if its value is true or 1, and `reset' or
   `clear' if its value is false or 0. One speaks of setting and clearing
   bits. To [1354]toggle or `invert' a bit is to change it, either from 0
   to 1 or from 1 to 0. See also [1355]flag, [1356]trit, [1357]mode bit.
   The term `bit' first appeared in print in the computer-science sense
   in a 1948 paper by information theorist Claude Shannon, and was there
   credited to the early computer scientist John Tukey (who also seems to
   have coined the term `software'). Tukey records that `bit' evolved
   over a lunch table as a handier alternative to `bigit' or `binit', at
   a conference in the winter of 1943-44.
   Node:bit bang, Next:[1358]bit bashing, Previous:[1359]bit, Up:[1360]=
   B =
   bit bang n.
   Transmission of data on a serial line, when accomplished by rapidly
   tweaking a single output bit, in software, at the appropriate times.
   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 [1361]wannabees.
   Bit bang was used on certain early models of Prime computers,
   presumably when UARTs were too expensive, and on archaic Z80 micros
   with a Zilog PIO but no SIO. In an interesting instance of the
   [1362]cycle of reincarnation, this technique returned to use in the
   early 1990s on some RISC architectures because it consumes such an
   infinitesimal part of the processor that it actually makes sense not
   to have a UART. Compare [1363]cycle of reincarnation.
   Node:bit bashing, Next:[1364]bit bucket, Previous:[1365]bit bang,
   Up:[1366]= B =
   bit bashing n.
   (alt. `bit diddling' or [1367]bit twiddling) Term used to describe any
   of several kinds of low-level programming characterized by
   manipulation of [1368]bit, [1369]flag, [1370]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
   [1371]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
   [1372]bit bang, [1373]mode bit.
   Node:bit bucket, Next:[1374]bit decay, Previous:[1375]bit bashing,
   Up:[1376]= B =
   bit bucket n.
   [very common] 1. 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). Discarded, lost, or destroyed data is
   said to have `gone to the bit bucket'. On [1377]Unix, often used for
   [1378]/dev/null. Sometimes amplified as `the Great Bit Bucket in the
   Sky'. 2. The place where all lost mail and news messages eventually
   go. The selection is performed according to [1379]Finagle's Law;
   important mail is much more likely to end up in the bit bucket than
   junk mail, which has an almost 100% probability of getting delivered.
   Routing to the bit bucket is automatically performed by mail-transfer
   agents, news systems, and the lower layers of the network. 3. The
   ideal location for all unwanted mail responses: "Flames about this
   article to the bit bucket." Such a request is guaranteed to overflow
   one's mailbox with flames. 4. Excuse for all mail that has not been
   sent. "I mailed you those figures last week; they must have landed in
   the bit bucket." Compare [1380]black hole.
   This term is used purely in jest. It is 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 [1381]chad
   Another variant of this legend has it that, as a consequence of the
   `parity preservation law', the number of 1 bits that go to the bit
   bucket must equal the number of 0 bits. Any imbalance results in bits
   filling up the bit bucket. A qualified computer technician can empty a
   full bit bucket as part of scheduled maintenance.
   Node:bit decay, Next:[1382]bit rot, Previous:[1383]bit bucket,
   Up:[1384]= B =
   bit decay n.
   See [1385]bit rot. People with a physics background tend to prefer
   this variant for the analogy with particle decay. See also
   [1386]computron, [1387]quantum bogodynamics.
   Node:bit rot, Next:[1388]bit twiddling, Previous:[1389]bit decay,
   Up:[1390]= B =
   bit rot n.
   [common] Also [1391]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 (alpha
   particles generated by trace radionuclides in ceramic chip packages,
   for example, 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 (and computers are
   built with error-detecting circuitry to compensate for them). The
   notion long favored among hackers that cosmic rays are among the
   causes of such events turns out to be a myth; see the [1392]cosmic
   rays entry for details.
   The term [1393]software rot is almost synonymous. Software rot is the
   effect, bit rot the notional cause.
   Node:bit twiddling, Next:[1394]bit-paired keyboard, Previous:[1395]bit
   rot, Up:[1396]= B =
   bit twiddling n.
   [very common] 1. (pejorative) An exercise in tuning (see [1397]tune)
   in which incredible amounts of time and effort go to produce little
   noticeable improvement, often with the result that the code becomes
   incomprehensible. 2. Aimless small modification to a program, esp. for
   some pointless goal. 3. Approx. syn. for [1398]bit bashing; esp. used
   for the act of frobbing the device control register of a peripheral in
   an attempt to get it back to a known state.
   Node:bit-paired keyboard, Next:[1399]bitblt, Previous:[1400]bit
   twiddling, Up:[1401]= B =
   bit-paired keyboard n.,obs.
   (alt. `bit-shift keyboard') A non-standard keyboard layout that seems
   to have originated with the Teletype ASR-33 and remained common for
   several years on early computer equipment. The ASR-33 was a mechanical
   device (see [1402]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 that could be
   modified by flipping bits if the SHIFT or the CTRL key was pressed. In
   order to avoid making the thing even more of a kluge than it already
   was, the design had to group characters that shared the same basic bit
   pattern on one key.
   Looking at the ASCII chart, we find:
high  low bits
bits  0000 0001 0010 0011 0100 0101 0110 0111 1000 1001
 010        !    "    #    $    %    &    '    (    )
 011   0    1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9

   This is why the characters !"#$%&'() appear where they do on a
   Teletype (thankfully, they didn't use shift-0 for space). The Teletype
   Model 33 was actually designed before ASCII existed, and was
   originally intended to use a code that contained these two rows:
      low bits
high  0000  0010  0100  0110  1000  1010  1100  1110
bits     0001  0011  0101  0111  1001  1011  1101  1111
  10   )  ! bel #  $  % wru &  *  (  "  :  ?  _  ,   .
  11   0  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  '  ;  /  - esc del

   The result would have been something closer to a normal keyboard. But
   as it happened, Teletype had to use a lot of persuasion just to keep
   ASCII, and the Model 33 keyboard, from looking like this instead:
          !  "  ?  $  '  &  -  (  )  ;  :  *  /  ,  .
       0  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  +  ~  <  >  �  |

   Teletype's was not the weirdest variant of the [1403]QWERTY layout
   widely seen, by the way; that prize should probably go to one of
   several (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. Either choice was supported by the
   ANSI computer keyboard standard, X4.14-1971, which referred to the
   alternatives as `logical bit pairing' and `typewriter pairing'. 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, X4.14 was superseded by
   X4.23-1982, `bit-paired' hardware was quickly junked or relegated to
   dusty corners, and both terms passed into disuse.
   However, in countries without a long history of touch typing, the
   argument against the bit-paired keyboard layout was weak or
   nonexistent. As a result, the standard Japanese keyboard, used on PCs,
   Unix boxen etc. still has all of the !"#$%&'() characters above the
   numbers in the ASR-33 layout.
   Node:bitblt, Next:[1404]BITNET, Previous:[1405]bit-paired keyboard,
   Up:[1406]= B =
   bitblt /bit'blit/ n.
   [from [1407]BLT, q.v.] 1. [common] Any of a family of closely related
   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 [1408]Right Thing in
   the case of overlapping source and destination rectangles is what
   makes BitBlt tricky). 2. Synonym for [1409]blit or [1410]BLT. Both
   uses are borderline techspeak.
   Node:BITNET, Next:[1411]bits, Previous:[1412]bitblt, Up:[1413]= B =
   BITNET /bit'net/ n., obs.
   [acronym: Because It's Time NETwork] Everybody's least favorite piece
   of the network (see [1414]the network) - until AOL happened. The
   BITNET hosts were a collection of IBM dinosaurs and VAXen (the latter
   with lobotomized comm hardware) that communicate using 80-character
   [1415]EBCDIC card images (see [1416]eighty-column mind); thus, they
   tend to mangle the headers and text of third-party traffic from the
   rest of the ASCII/[1417]RFC-822 world with annoying regularity. BITNET
   was also notorious as the apparent home of [1418]B1FF. By 1995 it had,
   much to everyone's relief, been obsolesced and absorbed into the
   Internet. Unfortunately, around this time we also got AOL.
   Node:bits, Next:[1419]bitty box, Previous:[1420]BITNET, Up:[1421]= B =
   bits pl.n.
   1. Information. Examples: "I need some bits about file formats." ("I
   need to know about file formats.") Compare [1422]core dump, sense 4.
   2. Machine-readable representation of a document, specifically as
   contrasted with paper: "I have only a photocopy of the Jargon File;
   does anyone know where I can get the bits?". See [1423]softcopy,
   [1424]source of all good bits See also [1425]bit.
   Node:bitty box, Next:[1426]bixen, Previous:[1427]bits, Up:[1428]= B =
   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 software on
   or for it. Especially used of small, obsolescent, single-tasking-only
   personal machines such as the Atari 800, Osborne, Sinclair, VIC-20,
   TRS-80, or IBM PC. 2. [Pejorative] More generally, the opposite of
   `real computer' (see [1429]Get a real computer!). See also
   [1430]mess-dos, [1431]toaster, and [1432]toy.
   Node:bixen, Next:[1433]bixie, Previous:[1434]bitty box, Up:[1435]= B =
   bixen pl.n.
   Users of BIX (the BIX Information eXchange, formerly the Byte
   Information eXchange). Parallels other plurals like boxen,
   [1436]VAXen, oxen.
   Node:bixie, Next:[1437]black art, Previous:[1438]bixen, Up:[1439]= B =
   bixie /bik'see/ n.
   Variant [1440]emoticons used on BIX (the BIX Information eXchange).
   The most common ([1441]smiley) bixie is <@_@>, representing two
   cartoon eyes and a mouth. These were originally invented in an SF
   fanzine called APA-L and imported to BIX by one of the earliest users.
   Node:black art, Next:[1442]black hole, Previous:[1443]bixie,
   Up:[1444]= B =
   black art n.
   [common] A collection of arcane, unpublished, and (by implication)
   mostly ad-hoc techniques developed for a particular application or
   systems area (compare [1445]black magic). VLSI design and compiler
   code optimization were (in their beginnings) considered classic
   examples of black art; as theory developed they became [1446]deep
   magic, and once standard textbooks had been written, became merely
   [1447]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 [1448]voodoo
   Node:black hole, Next:[1449]black magic, Previous:[1450]black art,
   Up:[1451]= B =
   black hole n.,vt.
   [common] What data (a piece of email or netnews, or a stream of TCP/IP
   packets) has fallen into if it disappears mysteriously between its
   origin and destination sites (that is, without returning a
   [1452]bounce message). "I think there's a black hole at foovax!"
   conveys suspicion that site foovax has been dropping a lot of stuff on
   the floor lately (see [1453]drop on the floor). The implied metaphor
   of email as interstellar travel is interesting in itself. Readily
   verbed as `blackhole': "That router is blackholing IDP packets."
   Compare [1454]bit bucket and see [1455]RBL.
   Node:black magic, Next:[1456]Black Screen of Death,
   Previous:[1457]black hole, Up:[1458]= B =
   black magic n.
   [common] A technique that works, though nobody really understands why.
   More obscure than [1459]voodoo programming, which may be done by
   cookbook. Compare also [1460]black art, [1461]deep magic, and
   [1462]magic number (sense 2).
   Node:Black Screen of Death, Next:[1463]Black Thursday,
   Previous:[1464]black magic, Up:[1465]= B =
   Black Screen of Death n.
   [prob. related to the Floating Head of Death in a famous "Far Side"
   cartoon.] A failure mode of [1466]Microsloth Windows. On an attempt to
   launch a DOS box, a networked Windows system not uncommonly blanks the
   screen and locks up the PC so hard that it requires a cold [1467]boot
   to recover. This unhappy phenomenon is known as The Black Screen of
   Death. See also [1468]Blue Screen of Death, which has become rather
   more common.
   Node:Black Thursday, Next:[1469]blammo, Previous:[1470]Black Screen of
   Death, Up:[1471]= B =
   Black Thursday n.
   February 8th, 1996 - the day of the signing into law of the [1472]CDA,
   so called by analogy with the catastrophic "Black Friday" in 1929 that
   began the Great Depression.
   Node:blammo, Next:[1473]blargh, Previous:[1474]Black Thursday,
   Up:[1475]= B =
   blammo v.
   [Oxford Brookes University and alumni, UK] To forcibly remove someone
   from any interactive system, especially talker systems. The operators,
   who may remain hidden, may `blammo' a user who is misbehaving. Very
   similar to MIT [1476]gun; in fact, the `blammo-gun' is a notional
   device used to `blammo' someone. While in actual fact the only
   incarnation of the blammo-gun is the command used to forcibly eject a
   user, operators speak of different levels of blammo-gun fire; e.g., a
   blammo-gun to `stun' will temporarily remove someone, but a blammo-gun
   set to `maim' will stop someone coming back on for a while.
   Node:blargh, Next:[1477]blast, Previous:[1478]blammo, Up:[1479]= B =
   blargh /blarg/ n.
   [MIT; now common] The opposite of [1480]ping, sense 5; an exclamation
   indicating that one has absorbed or is emitting a quantum of
   unhappiness. Less common than [1481]ping.
   Node:blast, Next:[1482]blat, Previous:[1483]blargh, Up:[1484]= B =
   blast 1. v.,n.
   Synonym for [1485]BLT, used esp. for large data sends over a network
   or comm line. Opposite of [1486]snarf. Usage: uncommon. The variant
   `blat' has been reported. 2. vt. [HP/Apollo] Synonymous with
   [1487]nuke (sense 3). Sometimes the message Unable to kill all
   processes. Blast them (y/n)? would appear in the command window upon
   Node:blat, Next:[1488]bletch, Previous:[1489]blast, Up:[1490]= B =
   blat n.
   1. Syn. [1491]blast, sense 1. 2. See [1492]thud.
   Node:bletch, Next:[1493]bletcherous, Previous:[1494]blat, Up:[1495]= B
   bletch /blech/ interj.
   [very common; from Yiddish/German `brechen', to vomit, poss. via
   comic-strip exclamation `blech'] Term of disgust. Often used in "Ugh,
   bletch". Compare [1496]barf.
   Node:bletcherous, Next:[1497]blink, Previous:[1498]bletch, Up:[1499]=
   B =
   bletcherous /blech'*-r*s/ 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 [1500]losing,
   [1501]cretinous, [1502]bagbiting, [1503]bogus, and [1504]random. The
   term [1505]bletcherous applies to the esthetics of the thing so
   described; similarly for [1506]cretinous. By contrast, something that
   is `losing' or `bagbiting' may be failing to meet objective criteria.
   See also [1507]bogus and [1508]random, which have richer and wider
   shades of meaning than any of the above.
   Node:blink, Next:[1509]blinkenlights, Previous:[1510]bletcherous,
   Up:[1511]= B =
   blink vi.,n.
   To use a navigator or off-line message reader to minimize time spent
   on-line to a commercial network service (a necessity in many places
   outside the U.S. where the telecoms monopolies charge per-minute for
   local calls). This term attained wide use in the UK, but is rare or
   unknown in the US.
   Node:blinkenlights, Next:[1512]blit, Previous:[1513]blink, Up:[1514]=
   B =
   blinkenlights /blink'*n-li:tz/ n.
   [common] Front-panel diagnostic lights on a computer, esp. a
   [1515]dinosaur. Now that dinosaurs are rare, this term usually refers
   to status lights on a modem, network hub, or the like.
   This term derives from the last word of the famous blackletter-Gothic
   sign in mangled pseudo-German that once graced about half the computer
   rooms in the English-speaking world. One version ran in its entirety
   as follows:
                       ACHTUNG! ALLES LOOKENSPEEPERS!
     Das computermachine ist nicht fuer gefingerpoken und mittengrabben.
     Ist easy schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und poppencorken
     mit spitzensparken. Ist nicht fuer gewerken bei das dumpkopfen. Das
     rubbernecken sichtseeren keepen das cotten-pickenen 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 1960s, 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'.
   In an amusing example of turnabout-is-fair-play, German hackers have
   developed their own versions of the blinkenlights poster in fractured
   English, one of which is reproduced here:
     This room is fullfilled mit special electronische equippment.
     Fingergrabbing and pressing the cnoeppkes from the computers is
     allowed for die experts only! So all the "lefthanders" stay away
     and do not disturben the brainstorming von here working
     intelligencies. Otherwise you will be out thrown and kicked
     anderswhere! Also: please keep still and only watchen astaunished
     the blinkenlights.
   See also [1516]geef.
   Old-time hackers sometimes get nostalgic for blinkenlights because
   they were so much more fun to look at than a blank panel. Sadly, very
   few computers still have them (the three LEDs on a PC keyboard
   certainly don't count). The obvious reasons (cost of wiring, cost of
   front-panel cutouts, almost nobody needs or wants to interpret
   machine-register states on the fly anymore) are only part of the
   story. Another part of it is that radio-frequency leakage from the
   lamp wiring was beginning to be a problem as far back as transistor
   machines. But the most fundamental fact is that there are very few
   signals slow enough to blink an LED these days! With slow CPUs, you
   could watch the bus register or instruction counter tick, but at
   33/66/150MHz it's all a blur.
   Finally, a version updated for the Internet has been seen on
                       ACHTUNG! ALLES LOOKENSPEEPERS!
     Das Internet is nicht fuer gefingerclicken und giffengrabben. Ist
     easy droppenpacket der routers und overloaden der backbone mit der
     spammen und der me-tooen. Ist nicht fuer gewerken bei das
     dumpkopfen. Das mausklicken sichtseeren keepen das bandwit-spewin
     hans in das pockets muss; relaxen und watchen das cursorblinken.
   This newest version partly reflects reports that the word
   `blinkenlights' is (in 1999) undergoing something of a revival in
   usage, but applied to networking equipment. The transmit and receive
   lights on routers, activity lights on switches and hubs, and other
   network equipment often blink in visually pleasing and seemingly
   coordinated ways. Although this is different in some ways from
   register readings, a tall stack of Cisco equipment or a 19-inch rack
   of ISDN terminals can provoke a similar feeling of hypnotic awe,
   especially in a darkened network operations center or server room.
   Node:blit, Next:[1517]blitter, Previous:[1518]blinkenlights,
   Up:[1519]= B =
   blit /blit/ vt.
   1. [common] 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 then blits it all back down again." See
   [1520]bitblt, [1521]BLT, [1522]dd, [1523]cat, [1524]blast,
   [1525]snarf. More generally, to perform some operation (such as
   toggling) on a large array of bits while moving them. 2. [historical,
   rare] Sometimes 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. Its creators liked to claim that
   "Blit" stood for the Bacon, Lettuce, and Interactive Tomato.)
   Node:blitter, Next:[1526]blivet, Previous:[1527]blit, Up:[1528]= B =
   blitter /blit'r/ n.
   [common] A special-purpose chip or hardware system built to perform
   [1529]blit operations, esp. used for fast implementation of bit-mapped
   graphics. The Commodore Amiga and a few other micros have these, but
   since 1990 the trend has been away from them (however, see [1530]cycle
   of reincarnation). Syn. [1531]raster blaster.
   Node:blivet, Next:[1532]bloatware, Previous:[1533]blitter, Up:[1534]=
   B =
   blivet /bliv'*t/ n.
   [allegedly from a World War II military term meaning "ten pounds of
   manure in a five-pound bag"] 1. An intractable problem. 2. A crucial
   piece of hardware that 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. 5. An embarrassing bug that pops up
   during a customer demo. 6. In the subjargon of computer security
   specialists, a denial-of-service attack performed by hogging limited
   resources that have no access controls (for example, shared spool
   space on a multi-user system).
   This term has other meanings in other technical cultures; among
   experimental physicists and hardware engineers of various kinds it
   seems to mean any random object of unknown purpose (similar to hackish
   use of [1535]frob). It has also been used to describe an amusing
   trick-the-eye drawing resembling a three-pronged fork that appears to
   depict a three-dimensional object until one realizes that the parts
   fit together in an impossible way.
   Node:bloatware, Next:[1536]BLOB, Previous:[1537]blivet, Up:[1538]= B =
   bloatware n.
   [common] Software that provides minimal functionality while requiring
   a disproportionate amount of diskspace and memory. Especially used for
   application and OS upgrades. This term is very common in the
   Windows/NT world. So is its cause.
   Node:BLOB, Next:[1539]block, Previous:[1540]bloatware, Up:[1541]= B =
   1. n. [acronym: Binary Large OBject] Used by database people to refer
   to any random large block of bits that needs to be stored in a
   database, such as a picture or sound file. The essential point about a
   BLOB is that it's an object that cannot be interpreted within the
   database itself. 2. v. To [1542]mailbomb someone by sending a BLOB to
   him/her; esp. used as a mild threat. "If that program crashes again,
   I'm going to BLOB the core dump to you."
   Node:block, Next:[1543]block transfer computations,
   Previous:[1544]BLOB, Up:[1545]= B =
   block v.
   [common; from process scheduling terminology in OS theory] 1. vi. To
   delay or sit idle while waiting for something. "We're blocking until
   everyone gets here." Compare [1546]busy-wait. 2. `block on' vt. To
   block, waiting for (something). "Lunch is blocked on Phil's arrival."
   Node:block transfer computations, Next:[1547]Bloggs Family,
   Previous:[1548]block, Up:[1549]= B =
   block transfer computations n.
   [from the television series "Dr. Who"] 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. (The Z80's LDIR instruction, "Computed Block
   Transfer with increment", may also be relevant.)
   Node:Bloggs Family, Next:[1550]blow an EPROM, Previous:[1551]block
   transfer computations, Up:[1552]= B =
   Bloggs Family n.
   An imaginary family consisting of Fred and Mary Bloggs and their
   children. Used as a standard example in knowledge representation to
   show the difference between extensional and intensional objects. For
   example, every occurrence of "Fred Bloggs" is the same unique person,
   whereas occurrences of "person" may refer to different people. Members
   of the Bloggs family have been known to pop up in bizarre places such
   as the old [1553]DEC Telephone Directory. Compare [1554]Dr. Fred
   Mbogo; [1555]J. Random Hacker; [1556]Fred Foobar.
   Node:blow an EPROM, Next:[1557]blow away, Previous:[1558]Bloggs
   Family, Up:[1559]= B =
   blow an EPROM /bloh *n ee'prom/ v.
   (alt. `blast an EPROM', `burn an EPROM') To program a read-only
   memory, e.g. for use with an embedded system. This term arose because
   the programming process for the Programmable Read-Only Memories
   (PROMs) that preceded present-day Erasable Programmable Read-Only
   Memories (EPROMs) involved intentionally blowing tiny electrical fuses
   on the chip. The usage lives on (it's too vivid and expressive to
   discard) even though the write process on EPROMs is nondestructive.
   Node:blow away, Next:[1560]blow out, Previous:[1561]blow an EPROM,
   Up:[1562]= B =
   blow away vt.
   To remove (files and directories) from permanent storage, generally by
   accident. "He reformatted the wrong partition and blew away last
   night's netnews." Oppose [1563]nuke.
   Node:blow out, Next:[1564]blow past, Previous:[1565]blow away,
   Up:[1566]= B =
   blow out vi.
   [prob. from mining and tunneling jargon] Of software, to fail
   spectacularly; almost as serious as [1567]crash and burn. See
   [1568]blow past, [1569]blow up, [1570]die horribly.
   Node:blow past, Next:[1571]blow up, Previous:[1572]blow out,
   Up:[1573]= B =
   blow past vt.
   To [1574]blow out despite a safeguard. "The server blew past the 5K
   reserve buffer."
   Node:blow up, Next:[1575]BLT, Previous:[1576]blow past, Up:[1577]= B =
   blow up vi.
   1. [scientific computation] To become unstable. Suggests that the
   computation is diverging so rapidly that it will soon overflow or at
   least go [1578]nonlinear. 2. Syn. [1579]blow out.
   Node:BLT, Next:[1580]Blue Book, Previous:[1581]blow up, Up:[1582]= B =
   BLT /B-L-T/, /bl*t/ or (rarely) /belt/ n.,vt.
   Synonym for [1583]blit. This is the original form of [1584]blit and
   the ancestor of [1585]bitblt. It referred to any large bit-field copy
   or move operation (one resource-intensive memory-shuffling operation
   done on pre-paged versions of ITS, WAITS, and TOPS-10 was sardonically
   referred to as `The Big BLT'). The jargon usage has outlasted the
   [1586]PDP-10 BLock Transfer instruction from which [1587]BLT derives;
   nowadays, the assembler mnemonic [1588]BLT almost always means `Branch
   if Less Than zero'.
   Node:Blue Book, Next:[1589]blue box, Previous:[1590]BLT, Up:[1591]= B
   Blue Book n.
   1. Informal name for one of the four standard references on the
   page-layout and graphics-control language [1592]PostScript
   ("PostScript Language Tutorial and Cookbook", Adobe Systems,
   Addison-Wesley 1985, QA76.73.P67P68, ISBN 0-201-10179-3); the other
   three official guides are known as the [1593]Green Book, the [1594]Red
   Book, and the [1595]White Book (sense 2). 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 book also has green and red
   siblings). 3. Any of the 1988 standards issued by the CCITT's ninth
   plenary assembly. These include, among other things, the X.400 email
   spec and the Group 1 through 4 fax standards. See also [1596]book
   Node:blue box, Next:[1597]Blue Glue, Previous:[1598]Blue Book,
   Up:[1599]= B =
   blue box
   n. 1. obs. Once upon a time, before all-digital switches made it
   possible for the phone companies to move them out of band, one could
   actually hear the switching tones used to route long-distance calls.
   Early [1600]phreakers built devices called `blue boxes' that could
   reproduce these tones, which could be used to commandeer portions of
   the phone network. (This was not as hard as it may sound; one early
   phreak acquired the sobriquet `Captain Crunch' after he proved that he
   could generate switching tones with a plastic whistle pulled out of a
   box of Captain Crunch cereal!) There were other colors of box with
   more specialized phreaking uses; red boxes, black boxes, silver boxes,
   etc. 2. n. An [1601]IBM machine, especially a large (non-PC) one.
   Node:Blue Glue, Next:[1602]blue goo, Previous:[1603]blue box,
   Up:[1604]= B =
   Blue Glue n.
   [IBM] IBM's SNA (Systems Network Architecture), an incredibly
   [1605]losing and [1606]bletcherous communications protocol widely
   favored at commercial shops that don't know any better. The official
   IBM definition is "that which binds blue boxes together." See
   [1607]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 common in [1608]dinosaur
   pens. A correspondent at U. Minn. reports that the CS department there
   has about 80 bottles of the stuff hanging about, so they often refer
   to any messy work to be done as `using the blue glue'.
   Node:blue goo, Next:[1609]Blue Screen of Death, Previous:[1610]Blue
   Glue, Up:[1611]= B =
   blue goo n.
   Term for `police' [1612]nanobots intended to prevent [1613]gray goo,
   denature hazardous waste, destroy pollution, put ozone back into the
   stratosphere, prevent halitosis, and promote truth, justice, and the
   American way, etc. The term `Blue Goo' can be found in Dr. Seuss's
   "Fox In Socks" to refer to a substance much like bubblegum. `Would you
   like to chew blue goo, sir?'. See [1614]nanotechnology.
   Node:Blue Screen of Death, Next:[1615]blue wire, Previous:[1616]blue
   goo, Up:[1617]= B =
   Blue Screen of Death n.
   [common] This term is closely related to the older [1618]Black Screen
   of Death but much more common (many non-hackers have picked it up).
   Due to the extreme fragility and bugginess of Microsoft Windows
   misbehaving applications can readily crash the OS (and the OS
   sometimes crashes itself spontaneously). The Blue Screen of Death,
   sometimes decorated with hex error codes, is what you get when this
   happens. (Commonly abbreviated [1619]BSOD.)
   The following entry from the [1620]Salon Haiku Contest, seems to have
   predated popular use of the term:
        Windows NT crashed.
        I am the Blue Screen of Death
        No one hears your screams.
   Node:blue wire, Next:[1621]blurgle, Previous:[1622]Blue Screen of
   Death, Up:[1623]= B =
   blue wire n.
   [IBM] Patch wires (esp. 30 AWG gauge) added to circuit boards at the
   factory to correct design or fabrication problems. Blue wire is not
   necessarily blue, the term describes function rather than color. These
   may be necessary if there hasn't been time to design and qualify
   another board version. In Great Britain this can be `bodge wire',
   after mainstreanm slang `bodge' for a clumsy improvisation or sloppy
   job of work. Compare [1624]purple wire, [1625]red wire, [1626]yellow
   wire, [1627]pink wire.
   Node:blurgle, Next:[1628]BNF, Previous:[1629]blue wire, Up:[1630]= B =
   blurgle /bler'gl/ n.
   [UK] Spoken [1631]metasyntactic variable, to indicate some text that
   is obvious from context, or which is already known. If several words
   are to be replaced, blurgle may well be doubled or tripled. "To look
   for something in several files use `grep string blurgle blurgle'." In
   each case, "blurgle blurgle" would be understood to be replaced by the
   file you wished to search. Compare [1632]mumble, sense 7.
   Node:BNF, Next:[1633]boa, Previous:[1634]blurgle, Up:[1635]= B =
   BNF /B-N-F/ n.
   1. [techspeak] Acronym for `Backus Normal Form' (later retronymed to
   `Backus-Naur Form' because BNF was not in fact a normal 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 U.S.
   postal address:

  ::=  |  "."

  ::=   [] 

  ::= []   

  ::=  ","   

   This translates into English as: "A postal-address consists of a
   name-part, followed by a street-address part, followed by a zip-code
   part. A personal-part consists of either a first name or an initial
   followed by a dot. A name-part consists of either: a personal-part
   followed by a last name followed by an optional `jr-part' (Jr., Sr.,
   or dynastic number) and end-of-line, or a personal part followed by a
   name part (this rule illustrates the use of recursion in BNFs,
   covering the case of people who use multiple first and middle names
   and/or initials). A street address consists of an optional apartment
   specifier, followed by a street number, followed by a street name. A
   zip-part consists of a town-name, followed by a comma, followed by a
   state code, followed by a ZIP-code followed by an end-of-line." Note
   that many things (such as the format of a personal-part, apartment
   specifier, or ZIP-code) are left unspecified. These are presumed to be
   obvious from context or detailed somewhere nearby. See also
   [1636]parse. 2. Any of a number of variants and extensions of BNF
   proper, possibly containing some or all of the [1637]regexp wildcards
   such as * or +. In fact the example above isn't the pure form invented
   for the Algol-60 report; it uses [], which was introduced a few years
   later in IBM's PL/I definition but is now universally recognized. 3.
   In [1638]science-fiction fandom, a `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
   Node:boa, Next:[1639]board, Previous:[1640]BNF, Up:[1641]= B =
   boa [IBM] n.
   Any one of the fat cables that lurk under the floor in a
   [1642]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 channel cables for the 370 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'.
   Node:board, Next:[1643]boat anchor, Previous:[1644]boa, Up:[1645]= B =
   board n.
   1. In-context synonym for [1646]bboard; sometimes used even for Usenet
   newsgroups (but see usage note under [1647]bboard, sense 1). 2. An
   electronic circuit board.
   Node:boat anchor, Next:[1648]bob, Previous:[1649]board, Up:[1650]= B =
   boat anchor n.
   [common; from ham radio] 1. Like [1651]doorstop but more severe;
   implies that the offending hardware is irreversibly dead or useless.
   "That was a working motherboard once. One lightning strike later,
   instant boat anchor!" 2. A person who just takes up space. 3. Obsolete
   but still working hardware, especially when used of an old S100-bus
   hobbyist system; originally a term of annoyance, but became more and
   more affectionate as the hardware became more and more obsolete.
   Node:bob, Next:[1652]bodysurf code, Previous:[1653]boat anchor,
   Up:[1654]= B =
   bob n.
   At [1655]Demon Internet, all tech support personnel are called "Bob".
   (Female support personnel have an option on "Bobette"). This has
   nothing to do with Bob the divine drilling-equipment salesman of the
   [1656]Church of the SubGenius. Nor is it acronymized from "Brother Of
   [1657]BOFH", though all parties agree it could have been. Rather, it
   was triggered by an unusually large draft of new tech-support people
   in 1995. It was observed that there would be much duplication of
   names. To ease the confusion, it was decided that all support techs
   would henceforth be known as "Bob", and identity badges were created
   labelled "Bob 1" and "Bob 2". ("No, we never got any further" reports
   a witness).
   The reason for "Bob" rather than anything else is due to a [1658]luser
   calling and asking to speak to "Bob", despite the fact that no "Bob"
   was currently working for Tech Support. Since we all know "the
   customer is always right", it was decided that there had to be at
   least one "Bob" on duty at all times, just in case.
   This sillyness inexorably snowballed. Shift leaders and managers began
   to refer to their groups of "bobs". Whole ranks of support machines
   were set up (and still exist in the DNS as of 1999) as bob1 through
   bobN. Then came, and it was filled with
   Demon support personnel. They all referred to themselves, and to
   others, as `bob', and after a while it caught on. There is now a
   [1659]Bob Code describing the Bob nature.
   Node:bodysurf code, Next:[1660]BOF, Previous:[1661]bob, Up:[1662]= B =
   bodysurf code n.
   A program or segment of code written quickly in the heat of
   inspiration without the benefit of formal design or deep thought. Like
   its namesake sport, the result is too often a wipeout that leaves the
   programmer eating sand.
   Node:BOF, Next:[1663]BOFH, Previous:[1664]bodysurf code, Up:[1665]= B
   BOF /B-O-F/ or /bof/ n.
   1. [common] Abbreviation for the phrase "Birds Of a Feather" (flocking
   together), an informal discussion group and/or bull session scheduled
   on a conference program. It is not clear where or when this term
   originated, but it is now associated with the USENIX conferences for
   Unix techies and was already established there by 1984. It was used
   earlier than that at DECUS conferences and is reported to have been
   common at SHARE meetings as far back as the early 1960s. 2. Acronym,
   `Beginning of File'.
   Node:BOFH, Next:[1666]bogo-sort, Previous:[1667]BOF, Up:[1668]= B =
   BOFH // n.
   [common] Acronym, Bastard Operator From Hell. A system administrator
   with absolutely no tolerance for [1669]lusers. "You say you need more
   filespace?  Seems to me you have plenty
   left..." Many BOFHs (and others who would be BOFHs if they could get
   away with it) hang out in the newsgroup alt.sysadmin.recovery,
   although there has also been created a top-level newsgroup hierarchy
   (bofh.*) of their own.
   Several people have written stories about BOFHs. The set usually
   considered canonical is by Simon Travaglia and may be found at the
   [1670]Bastard Home Page. BOFHs and BOFH wannabes hang out on
   [1671]scary devil monastery and wield [1672]LARTs.
   Node:bogo-sort, Next:[1673]bogometer, Previous:[1674]BOFH, Up:[1675]=
   B =
   bogo-sort /boh`goh-sort'/ n.
   (var. `stupid-sort') The archetypical perversely awful algorithm (as
   opposed to [1676]bubble sort, which is merely the generic bad
   algorithm). Bogo-sort is equivalent to repeatedly throwing a deck of
   cards in the air, picking them up at random, and then testing whether
   they are in order. It serves as a sort of canonical example of
   awfulness. Looking at a program and seeing a dumb algorithm, one might
   say "Oh, I see, this program uses bogo-sort." Esp. appropriate for
   algorithms with factorial or super-exponential running time in the
   average case and probabilistically infinite worst-case running time.
   Compare [1677]bogus, [1678]brute force, [1679]lasherism.
   A spectacular variant of bogo-sort has been proposed which has the
   interesting property that, if the Many Worlds interpretation of
   quantum mechanics is true, it can sort an arbitrarily large array in
   constant time. (In the Many-Worlds model, the result of any quantum
   action is to split the universe-before into a sheaf of
   universes-after, one for each possible way the state vector can
   collapse; in any one of the universes-after the result appears
   random.) The steps are: 1. Permute the array randomly using a quantum
   process, 2. If the array is not sorted, destroy the universe.
   Implementation of step 2 is left as an exercise for the reader.
   Node:bogometer, Next:[1680]BogoMIPS, Previous:[1681]bogo-sort,
   Up:[1682]= B =
   bogometer /boh-gom'-*t-er/ n.
   A notional instrument for measuring [1683]bogosity. Compare the
   [1684]Troll-O-Meter and the `wankometer' described in the [1685]wank
   entry; see also [1686]bogus.
   Node:BogoMIPS, Next:[1687]bogon, Previous:[1688]bogometer, Up:[1689]=
   B =
   BogoMIPS /bo'go-mips/ n.
   The number of million times a second a processor can do absolutely
   nothing. The [1690]Linux OS measures BogoMIPS at startup in order to
   calibrate some soft timing loops that will be used later on; details
   at [1691]the BogoMIPS mini-HOWTO. The name Linus chose, of course, is
   an ironic comment on the uselessness of all other [1692]MIPS figures.
   Node:bogon, Next:[1693]bogon filter, Previous:[1694]BogoMIPS,
   Up:[1695]= B =
   bogon /boh'gon/ n.
   [very common; by analogy with proton/electron/neutron, but doubtless
   reinforced after 1980 by the similarity to Douglas Adams's `Vogons';
   see the [1696]Bibliography in Appendix C and note that Arthur Dent
   actually mispronounces `Vogons' as `Bogons' at one point] 1. The
   elementary particle of bogosity (see [1697]quantum bogodynamics). For
   instance, "the Ethernet is emitting bogons again" means 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 derivative senses 1-4. See also [1698]bogosity,
   [1699]bogus; compare [1700]psyton, [1701]fat electrons, [1702]magic
   The bogon has become the type case for a whole bestiary of nonce
   particle names, including the `clutron' or `cluon' (indivisible
   particle of cluefulness, obviously the antiparticle of the bogon) and
   the futon (elementary particle of [1703]randomness, or sometimes of
   lameness). These are not so much live usages in themselves as examples
   of a live meta-usage: that is, it has become a standard joke or
   linguistic maneuver to "explain" otherwise mysterious circumstances by
   inventing nonce particle names. And these imply nonce particle
   theories, with all their dignity or lack thereof (we might note
   parenthetically that this is a generalization from "(bogus particle)
   theories" to "bogus (particle theories)"!). Perhaps such particles are
   the modern-day equivalents of trolls and wood-nymphs as standard
   starting-points around which to construct explanatory myths. Of
   course, playing on an existing word (as in the `futon') yields
   additional flavor. Compare [1704]magic smoke.
   Node:bogon filter, Next:[1705]bogon flux, Previous:[1706]bogon,
   Up:[1707]= B =
   bogon filter /boh'gon fil'tr/ n.
   Any device, software or hardware, that limits or suppresses the flow
   and/or emission of bogons. "Engineering hacked a bogon filter between
   the Cray and the VAXen, and now we're getting fewer dropped packets."
   See also [1708]bogosity, [1709]bogus.
   Node:bogon flux, Next:[1710]bogosity, Previous:[1711]bogon filter,
   Up:[1712]= B =
   bogon flux /boh'gon fluhks/ n.
   A measure of a supposed field of [1713]bogosity emitted by a speaker,
   measured by a [1714]bogometer; as a speaker starts to wander into
   increasing bogosity a listener might say "Warning, warning, bogon flux
   is rising". See [1715]quantum bogodynamics.
   Node:bogosity, Next:[1716]bogotify, Previous:[1717]bogon flux,
   Up:[1718]= B =
   bogosity /boh-go's*-tee/ n.
   1. [orig. CMU, now very common] The degree to which something is
   [1719]bogus. Bogosity is measured with a [1720]bogometer; 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 (one might also say "You just
   redlined my bogometer"). The agreed-upon unit of bogosity is the
   [1721]microLenat. 2. The potential field generated by a [1722]bogon
   flux; see [1723]quantum bogodynamics. See also [1724]bogon flux,
   [1725]bogon filter, [1726]bogus.
   Node:bogotify, Next:[1727]bogue out, Previous:[1728]bogosity,
   Up:[1729]= B =
   bogotify /boh-go't*-fi:/ 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 had better not use it any more. This coinage
   led to the notional `autobogotiphobia' defined as `the fear of
   becoming bogotified'; but is not clear that the latter has ever been
   `live' jargon rather than a self-conscious joke in jargon about
   jargon. See also [1730]bogosity, [1731]bogus.
   Node:bogue out, Next:[1732]bogus, Previous:[1733]bogotify, Up:[1734]=
   B =
   bogue out /bohg owt/ vi.
   To become bogus, suddenly and unexpectedly. "His talk was relatively
   sane until somebody asked him a trick question; then he bogued out and
   did nothing but [1735]flame afterwards." See also [1736]bogosity,
   Node:bogus, Next:[1738]Bohr bug, Previous:[1739]bogue out, Up:[1740]=
   B =
   bogus 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 [1741]random -- mostly the negative ones.)
   It is claimed that `bogus' was originally used in the hackish sense at
   Princeton in the late 1960s. It was spread to CMU and Yale by Michael
   Shamos, a migratory Princeton alumnus. A glossary of bogus words was
   compiled at Yale when the word was first popularized there about
   1975-76. These coinages spread into hackerdom from CMU and MIT. Most
   of them remained wordplay objects rather than actual vocabulary items
   or live metaphors. Examples: `amboguous' (having multiple bogus
   interpretations); `bogotissimo' (in a gloriously bogus manner);
   `bogotophile' (one who is pathologically fascinated by the bogus);
   `paleobogology' (the study of primeval bogosity).
   Some bogowords, however, obtained sufficient live currency to be
   listed elsewhere in this lexicon; see [1742]bogometer, [1743]bogon,
   [1744]bogotify, and [1745]quantum bogodynamics and the related but
   unlisted [1746]Dr. Fred Mbogo.
   By the early 1980s `bogus' was also current in something like hacker
   usage sense in West Coast teen slang, and it had gone mainstream by
   1985. A correspondent from 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 10-pound note".
   Node:Bohr bug, Next:[1747]boink, Previous:[1748]bogus, Up:[1749]= B =
   Bohr bug /bohr buhg/ n.
   [from quantum physics] A repeatable [1750]bug; one that manifests
   reliably under a possibly unknown but well-defined set of conditions.
   Antonym of [1751]heisenbug; see also [1752]mandelbug,
   Node:boink, Next:[1754]bomb, Previous:[1755]Bohr bug, Up:[1756]= B =
   boink /boynk/
   [Usenet: variously ascribed to the TV series "Cheers" "Moonlighting",
   and "Soap"] 1. v. To have sex with; compare [1757]bounce, sense 3.
   (This is mainstream slang.) In Commonwealth hackish the variant `bonk'
   is more common. 2. n. After the original Peter Korn `Boinkon'
   [1758]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 [1759]@-party. 3. Var of
   `bonk'; see [1760]bonk/oif.
   Node:bomb, Next:[1761]bondage-and-discipline language,
   Previous:[1762]boink, Up:[1763]= B =
   1. v. General synonym for [1764]crash (sense 1) except that it is not
   used as a noun; esp. used of software or OS failures. "Don't run
   Empire with less than 32K stack, it'll bomb." 2. n.,v. Atari ST and
   Macintosh equivalents of a Unix `panic' or Amiga [1765]guru
   meditation, in which icons of little black-powder bombs or mushroom
   clouds are displayed, indicating that 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 [1766]guru
   meditation number. [1767]MS-DOS machines tend to get [1768]locked up
   in this situation.
   Node:bondage-and-discipline language, Next:[1769]bonk/oif,
   Previous:[1770]bomb, Up:[1771]= B =
   bondage-and-discipline language n.
   A language (such as [1772]Pascal, [1773]Ada, 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". See [1774]Pascal; oppose
   [1775]languages of choice.
   Node:bonk/oif, Next:[1776]book titles,
   Previous:[1777]bondage-and-discipline language, Up:[1778]= B =
   bonk/oif /bonk/, /oyf/ interj.
   In the U.S. [1779]MUD community, it has become traditional to express
   pique or censure by `bonking' the offending person. Convention holds
   that one should acknowledge a bonk by saying `oif!' and there is 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. Note: in parts of
   the U.K. `bonk' is a sexually loaded slang term; care is advised in
   transatlantic conversations (see [1780]boink). Commonwealth hackers
   report a similar convention involving the `fish/bang' balance. See
   also [1781]talk mode.
   Node:book titles, Next:[1782]boot, Previous:[1783]bonk/oif, Up:[1784]=
   B =
   book titles
   There is a tradition in hackerdom of informally tagging important
   textbooks and standards documents with the dominant color of their
   covers or with some other conspicuous feature of the cover. Many of
   these are described in this lexicon under their own entries. See
   [1785]Aluminum Book, [1786]Blue Book, [1787]Camel Book,
   [1788]Cinderella Book, [1789]Devil Book, [1790]Dragon Book,
   [1791]Green Book, [1792]Orange Book, [1793]Purple Book, [1794]Red
   Book, [1795]Silver Book, [1796]White Book, [1797]Wizard Book,
   [1798]Yellow Book, and [1799]bible; see also [1800]rainbow series.
   Since about 1983 this tradition has gotten a boost from the popular
   O'Reilly and Associates line of technical books, which usually feature
   some kind of exotic animal on the cover.
   Node:boot, Next:[1801]Borg, Previous:[1802]book titles, Up:[1803]= B =
   boot v.,n.
   [techspeak; from `by one's bootstraps'] To load and initialize the
   operating system on a machine. This usage is no longer jargon (having
   passed into techspeak) but has given rise to some derivatives that are
   still jargon.
   The derivative `reboot' implies that the machine hasn't been down for
   long, or that the boot is a [1804]bounce (sense 4) intended to clear
   some state of [1805]wedgitude. This is sometimes used of human thought
   processes, as in the following exchange: "You've lost me." "OK,
   reboot. Here's the theory...."
   This term is 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', reinitialization of only part of a
   system, under control of other software still running: "If you're
   running the [1806]mess-dos emulator, control-alt-insert will cause a
   soft-boot of the emulator, while leaving the rest of the system
   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." "I recommend booting it hard." One often hard-boots
   by performing a [1807]power cycle.
   Historical note: this term derives from `bootstrap loader', a short
   program that was read in from cards or paper tape, or toggled in from
   the front panel switches. This program was always very short (great
   efforts were expended on making it short in order to minimize the
   labor and chance of error involved in toggling it in), but was just
   smart enough to read in a slightly more complex program (usually from
   a card or paper tape reader), to which it handed control; this program
   in turn was smart enough to read the application or operating system
   from a magnetic tape drive or disk drive. Thus, in successive steps,
   the computer `pulled itself up by its bootstraps' to a useful
   operating state. Nowadays the bootstrap is usually found in ROM or
   EPROM, and reads the first stage in from a fixed location on the disk,
   called the `boot block'. When this program gains control, it is
   powerful enough to load the actual OS and hand control over to it.
   Node:Borg, Next:[1808]borken, Previous:[1809]boot, Up:[1810]= B =
   Borg n.
   In "Star Trek: The Next Generation" the Borg is a species of cyborg
   that ruthlessly seeks to incorporate all sentient life into itself;
   their slogan is "You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile." In
   hacker parlance, the Borg is usually [1811]Microsoft, which is thought
   to be trying just as ruthlessly to assimilate all computers and the
   entire Internet to itself (there is a widely circulated image of Bill
   Gates as a Borg). Being forced to use Windows or NT is often referred
   to as being "Borged". Interestingly, the [1812]Halloween Documents
   reveal that this jargon is live within Microsoft itself. (Other
   companies, notably Intel and UUNet, have also occasionally been
   equated to the Borg.) See also [1813]Evil Empire, [1814]Internet
   In IETF circles, where direct pressure from Microsoft is not a daily
   reality, the Borg is sometimes Cisco. This usage commemmorates their
   tendency to pay any price to hire talent away from their competitors.
   In fact, at the Spring 1997 IETF, a large number of ex-Cisco
   employees, all former members of Routing Geeks, showed up with
   t-shirts printed with "Recovering Borg".
   Node:borken, Next:[1815]bot, Previous:[1816]Borg, Up:[1817]= B =
   borken adj.
   (also `borked') Common deliberate typo for `broken'.
   Node:bot, Next:[1818]bot spot, Previous:[1819]borken, Up:[1820]= B =
   bot n
   [common on IRC, MUD and among gamers; from `robot'] 1. An [1821]IRC or
   [1822]MUD user who is actually a program. On IRC, typically the robot
   provides some useful service. Examples are NickServ, which tries to
   prevent random users from adopting [1823]nicks already claimed by
   others, and MsgServ, which allows one to send asynchronous messages to
   be delivered when the recipient signs on. Also common are `annoybots',
   such as KissServ, which perform no useful function except to send cute
   messages to other people. Service bots are less common on MUDs; but
   some others, such as the `Julia' bot active in 1990-91, have been
   remarkably impressive Turing-test experiments, able to pass as human
   for as long as ten or fifteen minutes of conversation. 2. An
   AI-controlled player in a computer game (especially a first-person
   shooter such as Quake) which, unlike ordinary monsters, operates like
   a human-controlled player, with access to a player's weapons and
   abilities. An example can be found at
   [1824] 3. Term used, though less
   commonly, for a web [1825]spider. The file for controlling spider
   behavior on your site is officially the "Robots Exclusion File" and
   its URL is "http:///robots.txt")
   Note that bots in all senses were `robots' when the terms first
   appeared in the early 1990s, but the shortened form is now habitual.
   Node:bot spot, Next:[1826]bottom feeder, Previous:[1827]bot,
   Up:[1828]= B =
   bot spot n.
   [MUD] The user on a MUD with the longest connect time. Derives from
   the fact that [1829]bots on MUDS often stay constantly connected and
   appear at the bottom of the list.
   Node:bottom feeder, Next:[1830]bottom-up implementation,
   Previous:[1831]bot spot, Up:[1832]= B =
   bottom feeder n.
   1. An Internet user that leeches off ISPs - the sort you can never
   provide good enough services for, always complains about the price, no
   matter how low it may be, and will bolt off to another service the
   moment there is even the slimmest price difference. While most bottom
   feeders infest free or almost free services such as AOL, MSN, and
   Hotmail, too many flock to whomever happens to be the cheapest
   regional ISP at the time. Bottom feeders are often the classic problem
   user, known for unleashing spam, flamage, and other breaches of
   [1833]netiquette. 2. Syn. for [1834]slopsucker, derived from the
   fishermen's and naturalists' term for finny creatures who subsist on
   the primordial ooze. (This sense is older.)
   Node:bottom-up implementation, Next:[1835]bounce,
   Previous:[1836]bottom feeder, Up:[1837]= B =
   bottom-up implementation n.
   Hackish opposite of the techspeak term `top-down design'. It has been
   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 that 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. Naively applied, this
   leads to hacked-together bottom-up implementations; a more
   sophisticated response is `middle-out implementation', in which
   scratch code within primitives at the mid-level of the system is
   gradually replaced with a more polished version of the lowest level at
   the same time the structure above the midlevel is being built.
   Node:bounce, Next:[1838]bounce message, Previous:[1839]bottom-up
   implementation, Up:[1840]= B =
   bounce v.
   1. [common; perhaps by analogy to a bouncing check] An electronic mail
   message that is undeliverable and returns an error notification to the
   sender is said to `bounce'. See also [1841]bounce message. 2.
   [Stanford] To play volleyball. The now-demolished [1842]D. C. Power
   Lab building used by the Stanford AI Lab in the 1970s had a volleyball
   court on the front lawn. From 5 P.M. to 7 P.M. was the scheduled
   maintenance time for the computer, so every afternoon at 5 would come
   over the intercom the cry: "Now hear this: bounce, bounce!", followed
   by Brian McCune loudly bouncing a volleyball on the floor outside the
   offices of known volleyballers. 3. To engage in sexual intercourse;
   prob. from the expression `bouncing the mattress', but influenced by
   Roo's psychosexually loaded "Try bouncing me, Tigger!" from the
   "Winnie-the-Pooh" books. Compare [1843]boink. 4. To casually reboot a
   system in order to clear up a transient problem. Reported primarily
   among [1844]VMS and [1845]Unix users. 5. [VM/CMS programmers]
   Automatic warm-start of a machine after an error. "I logged on this
   morning and found it had bounced 7 times during the night" 6. [IBM] To
   [1846]power cycle a peripheral in order to reset it.
   Node:bounce message, Next:[1847]boustrophedon, Previous:[1848]bounce,
   Up:[1849]= B =
   bounce message n.
   [common] Notification message returned to sender by a site unable to
   relay [1850]email to the intended [1851]Internet address recipient or
   the next link in a [1852]bang path (see [1853]bounce, sense 1).
   Reasons might include a nonexistent or misspelled username or a
   [1854]down relay site. Bounce messages can themselves fail, with
   occasionally ugly results; see [1855]sorcerer's apprentice mode and
   [1856]software laser. The terms `bounce mail' and `barfmail' are also
   Node:boustrophedon, Next:[1857]box, Previous:[1858]bounce message,
   Up:[1859]= B =
   boustrophedon n.
   [from a Greek word for turning like an ox while plowing] An ancient
   method of writing using alternate left-to-right and right-to-left
   lines. This term is actually philologists' techspeak and typesetters'
   jargon. Erudite hackers use it for an optimization performed by some
   computer typesetting software and moving-head printers. The adverbial
   form `boustrophedonically' is also found (hackers purely love
   constructions like this).
   Node:box, Next:[1860]boxed comments, Previous:[1861]boustrophedon,
   Up:[1862]= B =
   box n.
   1. 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.) "We preprocess the data on Unix boxes
   before handing it up to the mainframe." 2. [IBM] Without qualification
   but within an SNA-using site, this refers specifically to an IBM
   front-end processor or FEP /F-E-P/. An FEP is a small computer
   necessary to enable an IBM [1863]mainframe to communicate beyond the
   limits of the [1864]dinosaur pen. Typically used in expressions like
   the cry that goes up when an SNA network goes down: "Looks like the
   [1865]box has fallen over." (See [1866]fall over.) See also [1867]IBM,
   [1868]fear and loathing, [1869]Blue Glue.
   Node:boxed comments, Next:[1870]boxen, Previous:[1871]box, Up:[1872]=
   B =
   boxed comments n.
   Comments (explanatory notes attached to program instructions) that
   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 is a boxed comment in C style

   Common variants of this style omit the asterisks in column 2 or add a
   matching row of asterisks closing the right side of the box. The
   sparest variant omits all but the comment delimiters themselves; the
   `box' is implied. Oppose [1873]winged comments.
   Node:boxen, Next:[1874]boxology, Previous:[1875]boxed comments,
   Up:[1876]= B =
   boxen /bok'sn/ pl.n.
   [very common; by analogy with [1877]VAXen] Fanciful plural of
   [1878]box often encountered in the phrase `Unix boxen', used to
   describe commodity [1879]Unix hardware. The connotation is that any
   two Unix boxen are interchangeable.
   Node:boxology, Next:[1880]bozotic, Previous:[1881]boxen, Up:[1882]= B
   boxology /bok-sol'*-jee/ n.
   Syn. [1883]ASCII art. This term implies a more restricted domain, that
   of box-and-arrow drawings. "His report has a lot of boxology in it."
   Compare [1884]macrology.
   Node:bozotic, Next:[1885]BQS, Previous:[1886]boxology, Up:[1887]= B =
   bozotic /boh-zoh'tik/ or /boh-zo'tik/ adj.
   [from the name of a TV clown even more losing than Ronald McDonald]
   Resembling or having the quality of a bozo; that is, clownish,
   ludicrously wrong, unintentionally humorous. Compare [1888]wonky,
   [1889]demented. Note that the noun `bozo' occurs in slang, but the
   mainstream adjectival form would be `bozo-like' or (in New England)
   Node:BQS, Next:[1890]brain dump, Previous:[1891]bozotic, Up:[1892]= B
   BQS /B-Q-S/ adj.
   Syn. [1893]Berkeley Quality Software.
   Node:brain dump, Next:[1894]brain fart, Previous:[1895]BQS, Up:[1896]=
   B =
   brain dump n.
   [common] 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. Conceptually analogous to an
   operating system [1897]core dump in that it saves a lot of useful
   [1898]state before an exit. "You'll have to give me a brain dump on
   FOOBAR before you start your new job at HackerCorp." See [1899]core
   dump (sense 4). At Sun, this is also known as `TOI' (transfer of
   Node:brain fart, Next:[1900]brain-damaged, Previous:[1901]brain dump,
   Up:[1902]= B =
   brain fart n.
   The actual result of a [1903]braino, as opposed to the mental glitch
   that is the braino itself. E.g., typing dir on a Unix box after a
   session with DOS.
   Node:brain-damaged, Next:[1904]brain-dead, Previous:[1905]brain fart,
   Up:[1906]= B =
   brain-damaged adj.
   1. [common; generalization of `Honeywell Brain Damage' (HBD), a
   theoretical disease invented to explain certain utter cretinisms in
   Honeywell [1907]Multics] adj. Obviously wrong; [1908]cretinous;
   [1909]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. "Only six monocase characters per file name? Now
   that's brain-damaged!" 2. [esp. in the Mac world] May refer to free
   demonstration software that has been deliberately crippled in some way
   so as not to compete with the product it is intended to sell. Syn.
   Node:brain-dead, Next:[1911]braino, Previous:[1912]brain-damaged,
   Up:[1913]= B =
   brain-dead adj.
   [common] Brain-damaged in the extreme. It tends to imply terminal
   design failure rather than malfunction or simple stupidity. "This comm
   program doesn't know how to send a break -- how brain-dead!"
   Node:braino, Next:[1914]branch to Fishkill, Previous:[1915]brain-dead,
   Up:[1916]= B =
   braino /bray'no/ n.
   Syn. for [1917]thinko. See also [1918]brain fart.
   Node:branch to Fishkill, Next:[1919]bread crumbs,
   Previous:[1920]braino, Up:[1921]= B =
   branch to Fishkill n.
   [IBM: from the location of one of the corporation's facilities] Any
   unexpected jump in a program that produces catastrophic or just plain
   weird results. See [1922]jump off into never-never land,
   Node:bread crumbs, Next:[1924]break, Previous:[1925]branch to
   Fishkill, Up:[1926]= B =
   bread crumbs n.
   1. Debugging statements inserted into a program that emit output or
   log indicators of the program's [1927]state to a file so you can see
   where it dies or pin down the cause of surprising behavior. The term
   is probably a reference to the Hansel and Gretel story from the
   Brothers Grimm or the older French folktale of Thumbelina; in several
   variants of these, a character leaves a trail of bread crumbs so as
   not to get lost in the woods. 2. In user-interface design, any feature
   that allows some tracking of where you've been, like coloring visited
   links purple rather than blue in Netscape (also called `footrinting').
   Node:break, Next:[1928]break-even point, Previous:[1929]bread crumbs,
   Up:[1930]= B =
   1. vt. To cause to be [1931]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. [techspeak] vi. To send an RS-232 break (two
   character widths 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), delete or
   [1932]control-C does this. 5. `break break' may be said to interrupt a
   conversation (this is an example of verb doubling). This usage comes
   from radio communications, which in turn probably came from landline
   telegraph/teleprinter usage, as badly abused in the Citizen's Band
   craze a few years ago.
   Node:break-even point, Next:[1933]breath-of-life packet,
   Previous:[1934]break, Up:[1935]= B =
   break-even point n.
   In the process of implementing a new computer language, the point at
   which the language is sufficiently effective that one can implement
   the language in itself. That is, for a new language called,
   hypothetically, FOOGOL, one has reached break-even when one can write
   a demonstration compiler for FOOGOL in FOOGOL, discard the original
   implementation language, and thereafter use working versions of FOOGOL
   to develop newer ones. This is an important milestone; see [1936]MFTL.
   Since this entry was first written, several correspondents have
   reported that there actually was a compiler for a tiny Algol-like
   language called Foogol floating around on various [1937]VAXen in the
   early and mid-1980s. A FOOGOL implementation is available at the
   Retrocomputing Museum [1938]
   Node:breath-of-life packet, Next:[1939]breedle,
   Previous:[1940]break-even point, Up:[1941]= B =
   breath-of-life packet n.
   [XEROX PARC] An Ethernet packet that contains bootstrap (see
   [1942]boot) code, periodically sent out from a working computer to
   infuse the `breath of life' into any computer on the network that has
   happened to crash. Machines depending on such packets have sufficient
   hardware or firmware code to wait for (or request) such a packet
   during the reboot process. See also [1943]dickless workstation.
   The notional `kiss-of-death packet', with a function complementary to
   that of a breath-of-life packet, is recommended for dealing with hosts
   that consume too many network resources. Though `kiss-of-death packet'
   is usually used in jest, there is at least one documented instance of
   an Internet subnet with limited address-table slots in a gateway
   machine in which such packets were routinely used to compete for
   slots, rather like Christmas shoppers competing for scarce parking
   Node:breedle, Next:[1944]Breidbart Index,
   Previous:[1945]breath-of-life packet, Up:[1946]= B =
   breedle n.
   See [1947]feep.
   Node:Breidbart Index, Next:[1948]bring X to its knees,
   Previous:[1949]breedle, Up:[1950]= B =
   Breidbart Index /bri:d'bart ind*ks/
   A measurement of the severity of spam invented by long-time hacker
   Seth Breidbart, used for programming cancelbots. The Breidbart Index
   takes into account the fact that excessive multi-posting [1951]EMP is
   worse than excessive cross-posting [1952]ECP. The Breidbart Index is
   computed as follows: For each article in a spam, take the square-root
   of the number of newsgroups to which the article is posted. The
   Breidbart Index is the sum of the square roots of all of the posts in
   the spam. For example, one article posted to nine newsgroups and again
   to sixteen would have BI = sqrt(9) + sqrt(16) = 7. It is generally
   agreed that a spam is cancelable if the Breidbart Index exceeds 20.
   The Breidbart Index accumulates over a 45-day window. Ten articles
   yesterday and ten articles today and ten articles tomorrow add up to a
   30-article spam. Spam fighters will often reset the count if you can
   convince them that the spam was accidental and/or you have seen the
   error of your ways and won't repeat it. Breidbart Index can accumulate
   over multiple authors. For example, the "Make Money Fast" pyramid
   scheme exceeded a BI of 20 a long time ago, and is now considered
   "cancel on sight".
   Node:bring X to its knees, Next:[1953]brittle,
   Previous:[1954]Breidbart Index, Up:[1955]= B =
   bring X to its knees v.
   [common] To present a machine, operating system, piece of software, or
   algorithm with a load so extreme or [1956]pathological that it grinds
   to a halt. "To bring a MicroVAX to its knees, try twenty users running
   [1957]vi -- or four running [1958]EMACS." Compare [1959]hog.
   Node:brittle, Next:[1960]broadcast storm, Previous:[1961]bring X to
   its knees, Up:[1962]= B =
   brittle adj.
   Said of software that is functional but easily broken by changes in
   operating environment or configuration, or by any minor tweak to the
   software itself. Also, any system that responds inappropriately and
   disastrously to abnormal but expected external stimuli; e.g., a file
   system that is usually totally scrambled by a power failure is said to
   be brittle. This term is often used to describe the results of a
   research effort that were never intended to be robust, but it can be
   applied to commercial software, which (due to closed-source
   development) displays the quality far more often than it ought to.
   Oppose [1963]robust.
   Node:broadcast storm, Next:[1964]brochureware, Previous:[1965]brittle,
   Up:[1966]= B =
   broadcast storm n.
   [common] 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. See [1967]network meltdown; compare [1968]mail
   Node:brochureware, Next:[1969]broken, Previous:[1970]broadcast storm,
   Up:[1971]= B =
   brochureware n.
   Planned but non-existent product like [1972]vaporware, but with the
   added implication that marketing is actively selling and promoting it
   (they've printed brochures). Brochureware is often deployed as a
   strategic weapon; the idea is to con customers into not committing to
   an existing product of the competition's. It is a safe bet that when a
   brochureware product finally becomes real, it will be more expensive
   than and inferior to the alternatives that had been available for
   Node:broken, Next:[1973]broken arrow, Previous:[1974]brochureware,
   Up:[1975]= B =
   broken adj.
   1. Not working properly (of programs). 2. Behaving strangely;
   especially (when used of people) exhibiting extreme depression.
   Node:broken arrow, Next:[1976]BrokenWindows, Previous:[1977]broken,
   Up:[1978]= B =
   broken arrow n.
   [IBM] The error code displayed on line 25 of a 3270 terminal (or a PC
   emulating a 3270) for various kinds of protocol violations and
   "unexpected" error conditions (including connection to a [1979]down
   computer). On a PC, simulated with `->/_', with the two center
   characters overstruck.
   Note: to appreciate this term fully, it helps to know that `broken
   arrow' is also military jargon for an accident involving nuclear
   Node:BrokenWindows, Next:[1980]broket, Previous:[1981]broken arrow,
   Up:[1982]= B =
   BrokenWindows n.
   Abusive hackerism for the [1983]crufty and [1984]elephantine [1985]X
   environment on Sun machines; properly called `OpenWindows'.
   Node:broket, Next:[1986]Brooks's Law, Previous:[1987]BrokenWindows,
   Up:[1988]= B =
   broket /broh'k*t/ or /broh'ket`/ n.
   [rare; by analogy with `bracket': a `broken bracket'] 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 [1989]Real World as well, these are usually called [1990]angle
   Node:Brooks's Law, Next:[1991]brown-paper-bag bug,
   Previous:[1992]broket, Up:[1993]= B =
   Brooks's Law prov.
   "Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later" -- a
   result of the fact that the expected advantage from splitting
   development work among N programmers is O(N) (that is, proportional to
   N), but the complexity and communications cost associated with
   coordinating and then merging their work is O(N^2) (that is,
   proportional to the square of N). The quote is from Fred Brooks, a
   manager of IBM's OS/360 project and author of "The Mythical Man-Month"
   (Addison-Wesley, 1975, ISBN 0-201-00650-2), an excellent early book on
   software engineering. The myth in question has been most tersely
   expressed as "Programmer time is fungible" and Brooks established
   conclusively that it is not. Hackers have never forgotten his advice
   (though it's not the whole story; see [1994]bazaar); too often,
   [1995]management still does. See also [1996]creationism,
   [1997]second-system effect, [1998]optimism.
   Node:brown-paper-bag bug, Next:[1999]browser, Previous:[2000]Brooks's
   Law, Up:[2001]= B =
   brown-paper-bag bug n.
   A bug in a public software release that is so embarrassing that the
   author notionally wears a brown paper bag over his head for a while so
   he won't be recognized on the net. Entered popular usage after the
   early-1999 release of the first Linux 2.2, which had one. The phrase
   was used in Linus Torvalds's apology posting.
   Node:browser, Next:[2002]BRS, Previous:[2003]brown-paper-bag bug,
   Up:[2004]= B =
   browser n.
   A program specifically designed to help users view and navigate
   hypertext, on-line documentation, or a database. While this general
   sense has been present in jargon for a long time, the proliferation of
   browsers for the World Wide Web after 1992 has made it much more
   popular and provided a central or default techspeak meaning of the
   word previously lacking in hacker usage. Nowadays, if someone mentions
   using a `browser' without qualification, one may assume it is a Web
   Node:BRS, Next:[2005]brute force, Previous:[2006]browser, Up:[2007]= B
   BRS /B-R-S/ n.
   Syn. [2008]Big Red Switch. This abbreviation is fairly common on-line.
   Node:brute force, Next:[2009]brute force and ignorance,
   Previous:[2010]BRS, Up:[2011]= B =
   brute force adj.
   Describes a primitive programming style, one in which the programmer
   relies on the computer's processing power instead of using his or 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 term can also be used in reference to programming
   style: brute-force programs are written in a heavyhanded, tedious way,
   full of repetition and devoid of any elegance or useful abstraction
   (see also [2012]brute force and ignorance).
   The [2013]canonical example of a brute-force algorithm is associated
   with the `traveling salesman problem' (TSP), a classical [2014]NP-hard
   problem: Suppose a person is in, say, Boston, and wishes to drive to N
   other cities. In what order should the cities be visited 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 very 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, and for N = 1000 --
   well, see [2015]bignum). Sometimes, unfortunately, there is no better
   general solution than brute force. See also [2016]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.
   Whether brute-force programming should actually be considered stupid
   or not depends on the context; if the problem is not terribly 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. Additionally, 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 [2017]ha ha only serious, but the original Unix kernel's preference
   for simple, robust, and portable algorithms over [2018]brittle `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 judgment.
   Node:brute force and ignorance, Next:[2019]BSD, Previous:[2020]brute
   force, Up:[2021]= B =
   brute force and ignorance n.
   A popular design technique at many software houses -- [2022]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 this sort of thing. Characteristic of
   early [2023]larval stage programming; unfortunately, many never
   outgrow it. Often abbreviated BFI: "Gak, they used a [2024]bubble
   sort! That's strictly from BFI." Compare [2025]bogosity.
   Node:BSD, Next:[2026]BSOD, Previous:[2027]brute force and ignorance,
   Up:[2028]= B =
   BSD /B-S-D/ n.
   [abbreviation for `Berkeley Software Distribution'] a family of
   [2029]Unix versions for the [2030]DEC [2031]VAX and PDP-11 developed
   by Bill Joy and others at [2032]Berzerkeley starting around 1977,
   incorporating paged virtual memory, TCP/IP networking enhancements,
   and many other features. The BSD versions (4.1, 4.2, and 4.3) and the
   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; descendants including
   Free/Open/NetBSD, BSD/OS and MacOS X are still widely popular. Note
   that BSD versions going back to 2.9 are often referred to by their
   version numbers alone, without the BSD prefix. See [2033]4.2,
   [2034]Unix, [2035]USG Unix.
   Node:BSOD, Next:[2036]BUAF, Previous:[2037]BSD, Up:[2038]= B =
   BSOD /B-S-O-D/
   Very commmon abbreviation for [2039]Blue Screen of Death. Both spoken
   and written.
   Node:BUAF, Next:[2040]BUAG, Previous:[2041]BSOD, Up:[2042]= B =
   BUAF // n.
   [abbreviation, from] Big Ugly ASCII Font -- a special
   form of [2043]ASCII art. Various programs exist for rendering text
   strings into block, bloob, and pseudo-script fonts in cells between
   four and six character cells on a side; this is smaller than the
   letters generated by older [2044]banner (sense 2) programs. These are
   sometimes used to render one's name in a [2045]sig block, and are
   critically referred to as `BUAF's. See [2046]warlording.
   Node:BUAG, Next:[2047]bubble sort, Previous:[2048]BUAF, Up:[2049]= B =
   BUAG // n.
   [abbreviation, from] Big Ugly ASCII Graphic.
   Pejorative term for ugly [2050]ASCII art, especially as found in
   [2051]sig blocks. For some reason, mutations of the head of Bart
   Simpson are particularly common in the least imaginative [2052]sig
   blocks. See [2053]warlording.
   Node:bubble sort, Next:[2054]bucky bits, Previous:[2055]BUAG,
   Up:[2056]= B =
   bubble sort n.
   Techspeak for a particular sorting technique in which pairs of
   adjacent values in the list to be sorted are compared and interchanged
   if they are out of order; thus, list entries `bubble upward' in the
   list until they bump into one with a lower sort value. Because it is
   not very good relative to other methods and is the one typically
   stumbled on by [2057]naive and untutored programmers, hackers consider
   it the [2058]canonical example of a naive algorithm. (However, it's
   been shown by repeated experiment that below about 5000 records
   bubble-sort is OK anyway.) The canonical example of a really bad
   algorithm is [2059]bogo-sort. A bubble sort might be used out of
   ignorance, but any use of bogo-sort could issue only from brain damage
   or willful perversity.
   Node:bucky bits, Next:[2060]buffer chuck, Previous:[2061]bubble sort,
   Up:[2062]= B =
   bucky bits /buh'kee bits/ n.
   1. obs. The bits produced by the CONTROL and META shift keys on a SAIL
   keyboard (octal 200 and 400 respectively), resulting in a 9-bit
   keyboard character set. The MIT AI TV (Knight) keyboards extended this
   with TOP and separate left and right CONTROL and META keys, resulting
   in a 12-bit character set; later, LISP Machines added such keys as
   SUPER, HYPER, and GREEK (see [2063]space-cadet keyboard). 2. 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 has long been rumored that `bucky bits' were named for Buckminster
   Fuller during a period when he was consulting at Stanford. Actually,
   bucky bits were invented by Niklaus Wirth when he was at Stanford in
   1964-65; he first suggested the idea of an EDIT key to set the 8th bit
   of an otherwise 7-bit ASCII character). It seems that, unknown to
   Wirth, certain Stanford hackers had privately nicknamed him `Bucky'
   after a prominent portion of his dental anatomy, and this nickname
   transferred to the bit. Bucky-bit commands were used in a number of
   editors written at Stanford, including most notably TV-EDIT and NLS.
   The term spread to MIT and CMU early and is now in general use.
   Ironically, Wirth himself remained unaware of its derivation for
   nearly 30 years, until GLS dug up this history in early 1993! See
   [2064]double bucky, [2065]quadruple bucky.
   Node:buffer chuck, Next:[2066]buffer overflow, Previous:[2067]bucky
   bits, Up:[2068]= B =
   buffer chuck n.
   Shorter and ruder syn. for [2069]buffer overflow.
   Node:buffer overflow, Next:[2070]bug, Previous:[2071]buffer chuck,
   Up:[2072]= B =
   buffer overflow n.
   What happens when you try to stuff more data into a buffer (holding
   area) than it can handle. This problem is commonly exploited by
   [2073]crackers to get arbitrary commands executed by a program running
   with root permissions. This may be due to a mismatch in the processing
   rates of the producing and consuming processes (see [2074]overrun and
   [2075]firehose syndrome), or because the buffer is simply too small to
   hold all the data that must accumulate before a piece of it can be
   processed. For example, in a text-processing tool that [2076]crunches
   a line at a time, a short line buffer can result in [2077]lossage as
   input from a long line overflows the buffer and trashes data beyond
   it. Good defensive programming would check for overflow on each
   character and stop accepting data when the buffer is full up. The term
   is used of and by humans in a metaphorical sense. "What time did I
   agree to meet you? My buffer must have overflowed." Or "If I answer
   that phone my buffer is going to overflow." See also [2078]spam,
   [2079]overrun screw.
   Node:bug, Next:[2080]bug-compatible, Previous:[2081]buffer overflow,
   Up:[2082]= B =
   bug n.
   An unwanted and unintended property of a program or piece of hardware,
   esp. one that causes it to malfunction. Antonym of [2083]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).
   Historical note: Admiral Grace Hopper (an early computing pioneer
   better known for inventing [2084]COBOL) liked to tell a story in which
   a technician solved a [2085]glitch in the Harvard Mark II machine by
   pulling an actual insect out from between the contacts of one of its
   relays, and she subsequently promulgated [2086]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 (NSWC). 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", Vol. 3,
   No. 3 (July 1981), pp. 285-286.
   The text of the log entry (from September 9, 1947), reads "1545 Relay
   #70 Panel F (moth) in relay. First actual case of bug being found".
   This wording establishes that the term was already in use at the time
   in its current specific sense -- and Hopper herself reports that the
   term `bug' was regularly applied to problems in radar electronics
   during WWII.
   Indeed, the use of `bug' to mean an industrial defect was already
   established in Thomas Edison's time, and a more specific and rather
   modern use can be found in an electrical handbook from 1896 ("Hawkin's
   New Catechism of Electricity", Theo. Audel & Co.) which says: "The
   term `bug' is used to a limited extent to designate any fault or
   trouble in the connections or working of electric apparatus." It
   further notes that the term is "said to have originated in quadruplex
   telegraphy and have been transferred to all electric apparatus."
   The latter observation may explain a common folk etymology of the
   term; that it came from telephone company usage, in which "bugs in a
   telephone cable" were blamed for noisy lines. Though this derivation
   seems to be mistaken, it may well be a distorted memory of a joke
   first current among telegraph operators more than a century ago!
   Or perhaps not a joke. Historians of the field inform us that the term
   "bug" was regularly used in the early days of telegraphy to refer to a
   variety of semi-automatic telegraphy keyers that would send a string
   of dots if you held them down. In fact, the Vibroplex keyers (which
   were among the most common of this type) even had a graphic of a
   beetle on them (and still do)! While the ability to send repeated dots
   automatically was very useful for professional morse code operators,
   these were also significantly trickier to use than the older manual
   keyers, and it could take some practice to ensure one didn't introduce
   extraneous dots into the code by holding the key down a fraction too
   long. In the hands of an inexperienced operator, a Vibroplex "bug" on
   the line could mean that a lot of garbled Morse would soon be coming
   your way.
   Further, the term "bug" has long been used among radio technicians to
   describe a device that converts electromagnetic field variations into
   acoustic signals. It is used to trace radio interference and look for
   dangerous radio emissions. Radio community usage derives from the
   roach-like shape of the first versions used by 19th century
   physicists. The first versions consisted of a coil of wire (roach
   body), with the two wire ends sticking out and bent back to nearly
   touch forming a spark gap (roach antennae). The bug is to the radio
   technician what the stethoscope is to the stereotype medical doctor.
   This sense is almost certainly ancestral to modern use of "bug" for a
   covert monitoring device, but may also have contributed to the use of
   "bug" for the effects of radio interference itself.
   Actually, use of `bug' in the general sense of a disruptive event goes
   back to Shakespeare! (Henry VI, part III - Act V, Scene II: King
   Edward: "So, lie thou there. Die thou; and die our fear; For Warwick
   was a bug that fear'd us all.") In the first edition of Samuel
   Johnson's dictionary one meaning of `bug' is "A frightful object; a
   walking spectre"; 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 jargon the word almost never refers to insects. Here
   is a plausible conversation that never actually happened:
   "There is a bug in this ant farm!"
   "What do you mean? I don't see any ants in it."
   "That's the bug."
   A careful discussion of the etymological issues can be found in a
   paper by Fred R. Shapiro, 1987, "Entomology of the Computer Bug:
   History and Folklore", American Speech 62(4):376-378.
   [There has been a widespread myth that the original bug was moved to
   the Smithsonian, and an earlier version of this entry so asserted. A
   correspondent who thought to check discovered that the bug was not
   there. While investigating this in late 1990, your editor discovered
   that the NSWC still had the bug, but had unsuccessfully tried to get
   the Smithsonian to accept it -- and that the present curator of their
   History of American Technology Museum didn't know this and agreed that
   it would make a worthwhile exhibit. It was moved to the Smithsonian in
   mid-1991, but due to space and money constraints was not actually
   exhibited years afterwards. Thus, the process of investigating the
   original-computer-bug bug fixed it in an entirely unexpected way, by
   making the myth true! --ESR]
   Node:bug-compatible, Next:[2087]bug-for-bug compatible,
   Previous:[2088]bug, Up:[2089]= B =
   bug-compatible adj.
   [common] Said of a design or revision that has been badly compromised
   by a requirement to be compatible with [2090]fossils or
   [2091]misfeatures in other programs or (esp.) previous releases of
   itself. "MS-DOS 2.0 used \ as a path separator to be bug-compatible
   with some cretin's choice of / as an option character in 1.0."
   Node:bug-for-bug compatible, Next:[2092]bug-of-the-month club,
   Previous:[2093]bug-compatible, Up:[2094]= B =
   bug-for-bug compatible n.
   Same as [2095]bug-compatible, with the additional implication that
   much tedious effort went into ensuring that each (known) bug was
   Node:bug-of-the-month club, Next:[2096]buglix,
   Previous:[2097]bug-for-bug compatible, Up:[2098]= B =
   bug-of-the-month club n.
   [from "book-of-the-month club", a time-honored mail-order-marketing
   technique in the U.S.] A mythical club which users of `sendmail(8)'
   (the UNIX mail daemon) belong to; this was coined on the Usenet
   newsgroup at a time when sendmail security holes,
   which allowed outside [2099]crackers access to the system, were being
   uncovered at an alarming rate, forcing sysadmins to update very often.
   Also, more completely, `fatal security bug-of-the-month club'. See
   also [2100]kernel-of-the-week club.
   Node:buglix, Next:[2101]bulletproof, Previous:[2102]bug-of-the-month
   club, Up:[2103]= B =
   buglix /buhg'liks/ n.
   [uncommon] Pejorative term referring to [2104]DEC's ULTRIX operating
   system in its earlier severely buggy versions. Still used to describe
   ULTRIX, but without nearly so much venom. Compare [2105]AIDX,
   [2106]HP-SUX, [2107]Nominal Semidestructor, [2108]Telerat,
   Node:bulletproof, Next:[2110]bullschildt, Previous:[2111]buglix,
   Up:[2112]= B =
   bulletproof adj.
   Used of an algorithm or implementation considered extremely
   [2113]robust; lossage-resistant; capable of correctly recovering from
   any imaginable exception condition -- a rare and valued quality.
   Implies that the programmer has thought of all possible errors, and
   added [2114]code to protect against each one. Thus, in some cases,
   this can imply code that is too heavyweight, due to excessive paranoia
   on the part of the programmer. Syn. [2115]armor-plated.
   Node:bullschildt, Next:[2116]bum, Previous:[2117]bulletproof,
   Up:[2118]= B =
   bullschildt /bul'shilt/ n.
   [comp.lang.c on USENET] A confident, but incorrect, statement about a
   programming language. This immortalizes a very bad book about [2119]C,
   Herbert Schildt's "C - The Complete Reference". One reviewer commented
   "The naive errors in this book would be embarassing even in a
   programming assignment turned in by a computer science college
   Node:bum, Next:[2120]bump, Previous:[2121]bullschildt, Up:[2122]= B =
   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." "I spent half the night bumming the interrupt code." In
   1996, this term and the practice it describes are semi-obsolete. In
   [2123]elder days, John McCarthy (inventor of [2124]LISP) used to
   compare some efficiency-obsessed hackers among his students to "ski
   bums"; thus, optimization became "program bumming", and eventually
   just "bumming". 2. To squeeze out excess; to remove something in order
   to improve whatever it was removed from (without changing function;
   this distinguishes the process from a [2125]featurectomy). 3. 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. [2126]tune (and n.
   [2127]tweak, [2128]hack), though none of these exactly capture sense
   2. All these uses are rare in Commonwealth hackish, because in the
   parent dialects of English the noun `bum' is a rude synonym for
   `buttocks' and the verb `bum' for buggery.
   Node:bump, Next:[2129]burble, Previous:[2130]bum, Up:[2131]= B =
   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.
   Node:burble, Next:[2132]buried treasure, Previous:[2133]bump,
   Up:[2134]= B =
   burble v.
   [from Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky"] Like [2135]flame, but connotes
   that the source is truly clueless and ineffectual (mere flamers can be
   competent). A term of deep contempt. "There's some guy on the phone
   burbling about how he got a DISK FULL error and it's all our comm
   software's fault." This is mainstream slang in some parts of England.
   Node:buried treasure, Next:[2136]burn-in period,
   Previous:[2137]burble, Up:[2138]= B =
   buried treasure n.
   A surprising piece of code found in some program. While usually not
   wrong, it tends to vary from [2139]crufty to [2140]bletcherous, and
   has lain undiscovered only because it was functionally correct,
   however horrible it is. Used sarcastically, because what is found is
   anything but treasure. Buried treasure almost always needs to be dug
   up and removed. "I just found that the scheduler sorts its queue using
   [2141]bubble sort! Buried treasure!"
   Node:burn-in period, Next:[2142]burst page, Previous:[2143]buried
   treasure, Up:[2144]= B =
   burn-in period n.
   1. A factory test designed to catch systems with [2145]marginal
   components before they get out the door; the theory is that burn-in
   will protect customers by outwaiting the steepest part of the
   [2146]bathtub curve (see [2147]infant mortality). 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, etc. Warning: Excessive burn-in can lead to
   burn-out. See [2148]hack mode, [2149]larval stage.
   Historical note: the origin of "burn-in" (sense 1) is apparently the
   practice of setting a new-model airplane's brakes on fire, then
   extinguishing the fire, in order to make them hold better. This was
   done on the first version of the U.S. spy-plane, the U-2.
   Node:burst page, Next:[2150]busy-wait, Previous:[2151]burn-in period,
   Up:[2152]= B =
   burst page n.
   Syn. [2153]banner, sense 1.
   Node:busy-wait, Next:[2154]buzz, Previous:[2155]burst page, Up:[2156]=
   B =
   busy-wait vi.
   Used of human behavior, conveys that the subject is busy waiting for
   someone or something, intends to move instantly as soon as it shows
   up, and thus cannot do anything else at the moment. "Can't talk now,
   I'm busy-waiting till Bill gets off the phone."
   Technically, `busy-wait' means to wait on an event by [2157]spinning
   through a tight or timed-delay loop that polls for the event on each
   pass, as opposed to setting up an interrupt handler and continuing
   execution on another part of the task. In applications this is a
   wasteful technique, and best avoided on time-sharing systems where a
   busy-waiting program may [2158]hog the processor. However, it is often
   unavoidable in kernel programming. In the Linux world, kernel
   busy-waits are usually referred to as `spinlocks'.
   Node:buzz, Next:[2159]BWQ, Previous:[2160]busy-wait, Up:[2161]= B =
   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 that is buzzing appears to
   be [2162]catatonic, but never gets out of catatonia, while a buzzing
   loop may eventually end of its own accord. "The program buzzes for
   about 10 seconds trying to sort all the names into order." See
   [2163]spin; see also [2164]grovel. 2. [ETA Systems] To test a wire or
   printed circuit trace for continuity, esp. by applying an AC rather
   than DC signal. Some wire faults will pass DC tests but fail an AC
   buzz test. 3. To process an array or list in sequence, doing the same
   thing to each element. "This loop buzzes through the tz array looking
   for a terminator type."
   Node:BWQ, Next:[2165]by hand, Previous:[2166]buzz, Up:[2167]= B =
   BWQ /B-W-Q/ n.
   [IBM: abbreviation, `Buzz Word Quotient'] The percentage of buzzwords
   in a speech or documents. Usually roughly proportional to
   [2168]bogosity. See [2169]TLA.
   Node:by hand, Next:[2170]byte, Previous:[2171]BWQ, Up:[2172]= B =
   by hand adv.
   [common] 1. Said of an operation (especially a repetitive, trivial,
   and/or tedious one) that 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." This does not
   necessarily mean the speaker has to retype a copy of the message; it
   might refer to, say, dropping into a subshell from the mailer, making
   a copy of one's mailbox file, reading that into an editor, locating
   the top and bottom of the message in question, deleting the rest of
   the file, inserting `>' characters on each line, writing the file,
   leaving the editor, returning to the mailer, reading the file in, and
   later remembering to delete the file. Compare [2173]eyeball search. 2.
   By extension, writing code which does something in an explicit or
   low-level way for which a presupplied library routine ought to have
   been available. "This cretinous B-tree library doesn't supply a decent
   iterator, so I'm having to walk the trees by hand."
   Node:byte, Next:[2174]byte sex, Previous:[2175]by hand, Up:[2176]= B =
   byte /bi:t/ n.
   [techspeak] A unit of memory or data equal to the amount used to
   represent one character; on modern architectures this is usually 8
   bits, but may be 9 on 36-bit machines. Some older architectures used
   `byte' for quantities of 6 or 7 bits, and the PDP-10 supported `bytes'
   that were actually bitfields of 1 to 36 bits! These usages are now
   obsolete, and even 9-bit bytes have become rare in the general trend
   toward power-of-2 word sizes.
   Historical note: The term was coined by Werner Buchholz in 1956 during
   the early design phase for the IBM Stretch computer; originally it was
   described as 1 to 6 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 word was coined by mutating the word
   `bite' so it would not be accidentally misspelled as [2177]bit. See
   also [2178]nybble.
   Node:byte sex, Next:[2179]bytesexual, Previous:[2180]byte, Up:[2181]=
   B =
   byte sex n.
   [common] The byte sex of hardware is [2182]big-endian or
   [2183]little-endian; see those entries.
   Node:bytesexual, Next:[2184]Bzzzt! Wrong., Previous:[2185]byte sex,
   Up:[2186]= B =
   bytesexual /bi:t`sek'shu-*l/ adj.
   [rare] Said of hardware, denotes willingness to compute or pass data
   in either [2187]big-endian or [2188]little-endian format (depending,
   presumably, on a [2189]mode bit somewhere). See also [2190]NUXI
   Node:Bzzzt! Wrong., Next:[2191]C, Previous:[2192]bytesexual,
   Up:[2193]= B =
   Bzzzt! Wrong. /bzt rong/ excl.
   [common; Usenet/Internet; punctuation varies] From a Robin Williams
   routine in the movie "Dead Poets Society" spoofing radio or TV quiz
   programs, such as Truth or Consequences, where an incorrect answer
   earns one a blast from the buzzer and condolences from the
   interlocutor. A way of expressing mock-rude disagreement, usually
   immediately following an included quote from another poster. The less
   abbreviated "*Bzzzzt*, wrong, but thank you for playing" is also
   common; capitalization and emphasis of the buzzer sound varies.
   Node:= C =, Next:[2194]= D =, Previous:[2195]= B =, Up:[2196]The
   Jargon Lexicon
= C =

     * [2197]C:
     * [2198]C Programmer's Disease:
     * [2199]C&C:
     * [2200]C++:
     * [2201]calculator:
     * [2202]Camel Book:
     * [2203]can:
     * [2204]can't happen:
     * [2205]cancelbot:
     * [2206]Cancelmoose[tm]:
     * [2207]candygrammar:
     * [2208]canonical:
     * [2209]card walloper:
     * [2210]careware:
     * [2211]cargo cult programming:
     * [2212]cascade:
     * [2213]case and paste:
     * [2214]casters-up mode:
     * [2215]casting the runes:
     * [2216]cat:
     * [2217]catatonic:
     * [2218]cathedral:
     * [2219]cd tilde:
     * [2220]CDA:
     * [2221]cdr:
     * [2222]chad:
     * [2223]chad box:
     * [2224]chain:
     * [2225]channel:
     * [2226]channel hopping:
     * [2227]channel op:
     * [2228]chanop:
     * [2229]char:
     * [2230]charityware:
     * [2231]chase pointers:
     * [2232]chawmp:
     * [2233]check:
     * [2234]cheerfully:
     * [2235]chemist:
     * [2236]Chernobyl chicken:
     * [2237]Chernobyl packet:
     * [2238]chicken head:
     * [2239]chiclet keyboard:
     * [2240]Chinese Army technique:
     * [2241]choad:
     * [2242]choke:
     * [2243]chomp:
     * [2244]chomper:
     * [2245]CHOP:
     * [2246]Christmas tree:
     * [2247]Christmas tree packet:
     * [2248]chrome:
     * [2249]chug:
     * [2250]Church of the SubGenius:
     * [2251]Cinderella Book:
     * [2252]CI$:
     * [2253]Classic C:
     * [2254]clean:
     * [2255]CLM:
     * [2256]clobber:
     * [2257]clock:
     * [2258]clocks:
     * [2259]clone:
     * [2260]clone-and-hack coding:
     * [2261]clover key:
     * [2262]clue-by-four:
     * [2263]clustergeeking:
     * [2264]co-lo:
     * [2265]code:
     * [2266]coaster:
     * [2267]COBOL:
     * [2268]COBOL fingers:
     * [2269]cobweb site:
     * [2270]code grinder:
     * [2271]code monkey:
     * [2272]Code of the Geeks:
     * [2273]code police:
     * [2274]codes:
     * [2275]codewalker:
     * [2276]coefficient of X:
     * [2277]cokebottle:
     * [2278]cold boot:
     * [2279]COME FROM:
     * [2280]comm mode:
     * [2281]command key:
     * [2282]comment out:
     * [2283]Commonwealth Hackish:
     * [2284]compact:
     * [2285]compiler jock:
     * [2286]compo:
     * [2287]compress:
     * [2288]Compu$erve:
     * [2289]computer confetti:
     * [2290]computer geek:
     * [2291]computron:
     * [2292]con:
     * [2293]condition out:
     * [2294]condom:
     * [2295]confuser:
     * [2296]connector conspiracy:
     * [2297]cons:
     * [2298]considered harmful:
     * [2299]console:
     * [2300]console jockey:
     * [2301]content-free:
     * [2302]control-C:
     * [2303]control-O:
     * [2304]control-Q:
     * [2305]control-S:
     * [2306]Conway's Law:
     * [2307]cookbook:
     * [2308]cooked mode:
     * [2309]cookie:
     * [2310]cookie bear:
     * [2311]cookie file:
     * [2312]cookie jar:
     * [2313]cookie monster:
     * [2314]copious free time:
     * [2315]copper:
     * [2316]copy protection:
     * [2317]copybroke:
     * [2318]copycenter:
     * [2319]copyleft:
     * [2320]copyparty:
     * [2321]copywronged:
     * [2322]core:
     * [2323]core cancer:
     * [2324]core dump:
     * [2325]core leak:
     * [2326]Core Wars:
     * [2327]corge:
     * [2328]cosmic rays:
     * [2329]cough and die:
     * [2330]courier:
     * [2331]cow orker:
     * [2332]cowboy:
     * [2333]CP/M:
     * [2334]CPU Wars:
     * [2335]crack:
     * [2336]crack root:
     * [2337]cracker:
     * [2338]cracking:
     * [2339]crank:
     * [2340]crapplet:
     * [2341]CrApTeX:
     * [2342]crash:
     * [2343]crash and burn:
     * [2344]crawling horror:
     * [2345]cray:
     * [2346]cray instability:
     * [2347]crayola:
     * [2348]crayola books:
     * [2349]crayon:
     * [2350]creationism:
     * [2351]creep:
     * [2352]creeping elegance:
     * [2353]creeping featurism:
     * [2354]creeping featuritis:
     * [2355]cretin:
     * [2356]cretinous:
     * [2357]crippleware:
     * [2358]critical mass:
     * [2359]crlf:
     * [2360]crock:
     * [2361]cross-post:
     * [2362]crossload:
     * [2363]crudware:
     * [2364]cruft:
     * [2365]cruft together:
     * [2366]cruftsmanship:
     * [2367]crufty:
     * [2368]crumb:
     * [2369]crunch:
     * [2370]cryppie:
     * [2371]CTSS:
     * [2372]cube:
     * [2373]cubing:
     * [2374]cup holder:
     * [2375]cursor dipped in X:
     * [2376]cuspy:
     * [2377]cut a tape:
     * [2378]cybercrud:
     * [2379]cyberpunk:
     * [2380]cyberspace:
     * [2381]cycle:
     * [2382]cycle crunch:
     * [2383]cycle drought:
     * [2384]cycle of reincarnation:
     * [2385]cycle server:
     * [2386]cypherpunk:
     * [2387]C|N>K:
   Node:C, Next:[2388]C Programmer's Disease, Previous:[2389]Bzzzt!
   Wrong., Up:[2390]= C =
   C n.
   1. The third letter of the English alphabet. 2. ASCII 1000011. 3. The
   name of a programming language designed by Dennis Ritchie during the
   early 1970s and immediately used to reimplement [2391]Unix; so called
   because many features derived from an earlier compiler named `B' in
   commemoration of its parent, BCPL. (BCPL was in turn descended from an
   earlier Algol-derived language, CPL.) Before Bjarne Stroustrup settled
   the question by designing [2392]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 [2393]languages of choice, [2394]indent style.
   C is often described, with a mixture of fondness and disdain varying
   according to the speaker, as "a language that combines all the
   elegance and power of assembly language with all the readability and
   maintainability of assembly language".
   Node:C Programmer's Disease, Next:[2395]C&C, Previous:[2396]C,
   Up:[2397]= C =
   C Programmer's Disease n.
   The tendency of the undisciplined C programmer to set arbitrary but
   supposedly generous static limits on table sizes (defined, if you're
   lucky, by constants in header files) rather than taking the trouble to
   do proper dynamic storage allocation. If an application user later
   needs to put 68 elements into a table of size 50, the afflicted
   programmer reasons that he or she can easily reset the table size to
   68 (or even as much as 70, to allow for future expansion) and
   recompile. This gives the programmer the comfortable feeling of having
   made the effort to satisfy the user's (unreasonable) demands, and
   often affords the user multiple opportunities to explore the marvelous
   consequences of [2398]fandango on core. In severe cases of the
   disease, the programmer cannot comprehend why each fix of this kind
   seems only to further disgruntle the user.
   Node:C&C, Next:[2399]C++, Previous:[2400]C Programmer's Disease,
   Up:[2401]= C =
   C&C //
   [common, esp. on] Contraction of "Coffee &
   Cats". This frequently occurs as a warning label on USENET posts that
   are likely to cause you to [2402]snarf coffee onto your keyboard and
   startle the cat off your lap.
   Node:C++, Next:[2403]calculator, Previous:[2404]C&C, Up:[2405]= C =
   C++ /C'-pluhs-pluhs/ n.
   Designed by Bjarne Stroustrup of AT&T Bell Labs as a successor to
   [2406]C. Now one of the [2407]languages of choice, although many
   hackers still grumble that it is the successor to either Algol 68 or
   [2408]Ada (depending on generation), and a prime example of
   [2409]second-system effect. Almost anything that can be done in any
   language can be done in C++, but it requires a [2410]language lawyer
   to know what is and what is not legal-- the design is almost too large
   to hold in even hackers' heads. Much of the [2411]cruft results from
   C++'s attempt to be backward compatible with C. Stroustrup himself has
   said in his retrospective book "The Design and Evolution of C++" (p.
   207), "Within C++, there is a much smaller and cleaner language
   struggling to get out." [Many hackers would now add "Yes, and it's
   called [2412]Java" --ESR]
   Node:calculator, Next:[2413]Camel Book, Previous:[2414]C++, Up:[2415]=
   C =
   calculator [Cambridge] n.
   Syn. for [2416]bitty box.
   Node:Camel Book, Next:[2417]can, Previous:[2418]calculator, Up:[2419]=
   C =
   Camel Book n.
   Universally recognized nickname for the book "Programming Perl", by
   Larry Wall and Randal L. Schwartz, O'Reilly and Associates 1991, ISBN
   0-937175-64-1 (second edition 1996, ISBN 1-56592-149-6). The
   definitive reference on [2420]Perl.
   Node:can, Next:[2421]can't happen, Previous:[2422]Camel Book,
   Up:[2423]= C =
   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 [2424]console".
   Frequently used in an imperative sense, as in "Can that print job, the
   LPT just popped a sprocket!" Synonymous with [2425]gun. It is said
   that the ASCII character with mnemonic CAN (0011000) was used as a
   kill-job character on some early OSes. Alternatively, this term may
   derive from mainstream slang `canned' for being laid off or fired.
   Node:can't happen, Next:[2426]cancelbot, Previous:[2427]can,
   Up:[2428]= C =
   can't happen
   The traditional program comment for code executed under a condition
   that should never be true, for example a file size computed as
   negative. Often, such a condition being true indicates data corruption
   or a faulty algorithm; it is almost always handled by emitting a fatal
   error message and terminating or crashing, since there is little else
   that can be done. Some case variant of "can't happen" is also often
   the text emitted if the `impossible' error actually happens! Although
   "can't happen" events are genuinely infrequent in production code,
   programmers wise enough to check for them habitually are often
   surprised at how frequently they are triggered during development and
   how many headaches checking for them turns out to head off. See also
   [2429]firewall code (sense 2).
   Node:cancelbot, Next:[2430]Cancelmoose[tm], Previous:[2431]can't
   happen, Up:[2432]= C =
   cancelbot /kan'sel-bot/
   [Usenet: compound, cancel + robot] 1. Mythically, a
   [2433]robocanceller 2. In reality, most cancelbots are manually
   operated by being fed lists of spam message IDs.
   Node:Cancelmoose[tm], Next:[2434]candygrammar,
   Previous:[2435]cancelbot, Up:[2436]= C =
   Cancelmoose[tm] /kan'sel-moos/
   [Usenet] The archetype and model of all good [2437]spam-fighters. Once
   upon a time, the 'Moose would send out spam-cancels and then post
   notice anonymously to news.admin.policy, news.admin.misc, and The 'Moose stepped to the fore on its
   own initiative, at a time (mid-1994) when spam-cancels were irregular
   and disorganized, and behaved altogether admirably - fair,
   even-handed, and quick to respond to comments and criticism, all
   without self-aggrandizement or martyrdom. Cancelmoose[tm] quickly
   gained near-unanimous support from the readership of all three
   above-mentioned groups.
   Nobody knows who Cancelmoose[tm] really is, and there aren't even any
   good rumors. However, the 'Moose now has an e-mail address
   ([2438][email protected]) and a web site ([2439]
   By early 1995, others had stepped into the spam-cancel business, and
   appeared to be comporting themselves well, after the 'Moose's manner.
   The 'Moose has now gotten out of the business, and is more interested
   in ending spam (and cancels) entirely.
   Node:candygrammar, Next:[2440]canonical,
   Previous:[2441]Cancelmoose[tm], Up:[2442]= C =
   candygrammar n.
   A programming-language grammar that is mostly [2443]syntactic sugar;
   the term is also a play on `candygram'. [2444]COBOL, Apple's Hypertalk
   language, and a lot of the so-called `4GL' database languages share
   this property. The usual intent of such designs is that they be as
   English-like as possible, on the theory that they will then be easier
   for unskilled people to program. This intention comes to grief on the
   reality that syntax isn't what makes programming hard; it's the mental
   effort and organization required to specify an algorithm precisely
   that costs. Thus the invariable result is that `candygrammar'
   languages are just as difficult to program in as terser ones, and far
   more painful for the experienced hacker.
   [The overtones from the old Chevy Chase skit on Saturday Night Live
   should not be overlooked. This was a "Jaws" parody. Someone lurking
   outside an apartment door tries all kinds of bogus ways to get the
   occupant to open up, while ominous music plays in the background. The
   last attempt is a half-hearted "Candygram!" When the door is opened, a
   shark bursts in and chomps the poor occupant. [There is a similar gag
   in "Blazing Saddles" --ESR] There is a moral here for those attracted
   to candygrammars. Note that, in many circles, pretty much the same
   ones who remember Monty Python sketches, all it takes is the word
   "Candygram!", suitably timed, to get people rolling on the floor. --
   Node:canonical, Next:[2445]card walloper, Previous:[2446]candygrammar,
   Up:[2447]= C =
   canonical adj.
   [very common; historically, `according to religious law'] The usual or
   standard state or manner of something. This word has a somewhat more
   technical meaning in mathematics. 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
   jargon meaning, a relaxation of the technical meaning, acquired its
   present loading in computer-science culture largely through its
   prominence in Alonzo Church's work in computation theory and
   mathematical logic (see [2448]Knights of the Lambda Calculus). Compare
   Non-technical academics do not use the adjective `canonical' in any of
   the senses defined above with any regularity; they do however use the
   nouns `canon' and `canonicity' (not **canonicalness or
   **canonicality). The `canon' of a given author is the complete body of
   authentic works by that author (this usage is familiar to Sherlock
   Holmes fans as well as to literary scholars). `The canon' is the body
   of works in a given field (e.g., works of literature, or of art, or of
   music) deemed worthwhile for students to study and for scholars to
   The word `canon' has an interesting history. It derives ultimately
   from the Greek `kanon' (akin to the English `cane') referring to a
   reed. Reeds were used for measurement, and in Latin and later Greek
   the word `canon' meant a rule or a standard. The establishment of a
   canon of scriptures within Christianity was meant to define a standard
   or a rule for the religion. The above non-techspeak academic usages
   stem from this instance of a defined and accepted body of work.
   Alongside this usage was the promulgation of `canons' (`rules') for
   the government of the Catholic Church. The techspeak usages
   ("according to religious law") derive from this use of the Latin
   Hackers invest this term with a playfulness that makes an ironic
   contrast with its historical meaning. A true story: One Bob Sjoberg,
   new at the MIT AI Lab, expressed some annoyance at the incessant use
   of jargon. Over his loud objections, GLS and RMS made a point of using
   as much of it as possible in his presence, and eventually it began to
   sink in. Finally, in one conversation, he used the word `canonical' in
   jargon-like fashion without thinking. Steele: "Aha! We've finally got
   you talking jargon too!" Stallman: "What did he say?" Steele: "Bob
   just used `canonical' in the canonical way."
   Of course, canonicality depends on context, but it is implicitly
   defined as the way hackers normally expect things to be. Thus, a
   hacker may claim with a straight face that `according to religious
   law' is not the canonical meaning of `canonical'.
   Node:card walloper, Next:[2450]careware, Previous:[2451]canonical,
   Up:[2452]= C =
   card walloper n.
   An EDP programmer who grinds out batch programs that do stupid things
   like print people's paychecks. Compare [2453]code grinder. See also
   [2454]punched card, [2455]eighty-column mind.
   Node:careware, Next:[2456]cargo cult programming, Previous:[2457]card
   walloper, Up:[2458]= C =
   careware /keir'weir/ n.
   A variety of [2459]shareware for which either the author suggests that
   some payment be made to a nominated charity or a levy directed to
   charity is included on top of the distribution charge. Syn.
   [2460]charityware; compare [2461]crippleware, sense 2.
   Node:cargo cult programming, Next:[2462]cascade,
   Previous:[2463]careware, Up:[2464]= C =
   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 apparently avoided the bug was ever fully
   understood (compare [2465]shotgun debugging, [2466]voodoo
   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 his book "Surely
   You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" (W. W. Norton & Co, New York 1985, ISBN
   Node:cascade, Next:[2467]case and paste, Previous:[2468]cargo cult
   programming, Up:[2469]= C =
   cascade n.
   1. A huge volume of spurious error-message output produced by a
   compiler with poor error recovery. Too frequently, one trivial syntax
   error (such as a missing `)' or `}') throws the parser out of synch so
   that much of the remaining program text is interpreted as garbaged or
   ill-formed. 2. A chain of Usenet followups, each adding some trivial
   variation or riposte to the text of the previous one, all of which is
   reproduced in the new message; an [2470]include war in which the
   object is to create a sort of communal graffito.
   Node:case and paste, Next:[2471]casters-up mode,
   Previous:[2472]cascade, Up:[2473]= C =
   case and paste n.
   [from `cut and paste'] 1. The addition of a new [2474]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 [2475]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.
   At [2476]DEC (now Compaq), this is sometimes called `clone-and-hack'
   Node:casters-up mode, Next:[2477]casting the runes,
   Previous:[2478]case and paste, Up:[2479]= C =
   casters-up mode n.
   [IBM, prob. fr. slang belly up] Yet another synonym for `broken' or
   `down'. Usually connotes a major failure. A system (hardware or
   software) which is `down' may be already being restarted before the
   failure is noticed, whereas one which is `casters up' is usually a
   good excuse to take the rest of the day off (as long as you're not
   responsible for fixing it).
   Node:casting the runes, Next:[2480]cat, Previous:[2481]casters-up
   mode, Up:[2482]= C =
   casting the runes n.
   What a [2483]guru does when you ask him or her 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 [2484]incantation, [2485]runes,
   [2486]examining the entrails; also see the AI koan about Tom Knight in
   "[2487]Some AI Koans" (Appendix A).
   A correspondent from England tells us that one of ICL's most talented
   systems designers used to be called out occasionally to service
   machines which the [2488]field circus had given up on. Since he knew
   the design inside out, he could often find faults simply by listening
   to a quick outline of the symptoms. He used to play on this by going
   to some site where the field circus had just spent the last two weeks
   solid trying to find a fault, and spreading a diagram of the system
   out on a table top. He'd then shake some chicken bones and cast them
   over the diagram, peer at the bones intently for a minute, and then
   tell them that a certain module needed replacing. The system would
   start working again immediately upon the replacement.
   Node:cat, Next:[2489]catatonic, Previous:[2490]casting the runes,
   Up:[2491]= C =
   cat [from `catenate' via [2492]Unix cat(1)] vt.
   1. [techspeak] To spew an entire file to the screen or some other
   output sink without pause (syn. [2493]blast). 2. 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 [2494]dd, [2495]BLT.
   Among Unix fans, cat(1) is considered an excellent example of
   user-interface design, because it delivers the file contents without
   such verbosity as spacing or headers between the files, and because it
   does not require the files to consist of lines of text, but works with
   any sort of data.
   Among Unix haters, cat(1) is considered the [2496]canonical example of
   bad user-interface design, because of its woefully unobvious name. It
   is far more often used to [2497]blast a file to standard output than
   to concatenate two files. The name cat for the former operation is
   just as unintuitive as, say, LISP's [2498]cdr.
   Of such oppositions are [2499]holy wars made....
   Node:catatonic, Next:[2500]cathedral, Previous:[2501]cat, Up:[2502]= C
   catatonic adj.
   Describes a condition of suspended animation in which something is so
   [2503]wedged or [2504]hung that it makes no response. 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). "There I was in the middle of a
   winning game of [2505]nethack and it went catatonic on me! Aaargh!"
   Compare [2506]buzz.
   Node:cathedral, Next:[2507]cd tilde, Previous:[2508]catatonic,
   Up:[2509]= C =
   cathedral n.,adj.
   [see [2510]bazaar for derivation] The `classical' mode of software
   engineering long thought to be necessarily implied by [2511]Brooks's
   Law. Features small teams, tight project control, and long release
   intervals. This term came into use after analysis of the Linux
   experience suggested there might be something wrong (or at least
   incomplete) in the classical assumptions.
   Node:cd tilde, Next:[2512]CDA, Previous:[2513]cathedral, Up:[2514]= C
   cd tilde /C-D til-d*/ vi.
   To go home. From the Unix C-shell and Korn-shell command cd ~, which
   takes one to one's $HOME (cd with no arguments happens to do the same
   thing). By extension, may be used with other arguments; thus, over an
   electronic chat link, cd ~coffee would mean "I'm going to the coffee
   Node:CDA, Next:[2515]cdr, Previous:[2516]cd tilde, Up:[2517]= C =
   CDA /C-D-A/
   The "Communications Decency Act" of 1996, passed on [2518]Black
   Thursday as section 502 of a major telecommunications reform bill. The
   CDA made it a federal crime in the USA to send a communication which
   is "obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent, with intent to
   annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass another person." It also threatened
   with imprisonment anyone who "knowingly" makes accessible to minors
   any message that "describes, in terms patently offensive as measured
   by contemporary community standards, sexual or excretory activities or
   While the CDA was sold as a measure to protect minors from the
   putative evils of pornography, the repressive political aims of the
   bill were laid bare by the Hyde amendment, which intended to outlaw
   discussion of abortion on the Internet.
   To say that this direct attack on First Amendment free-speech rights
   was not well received on the Internet would be putting it mildly. A
   firestorm of protest followed, including a February 29th mass
   demonstration by thousands of netters who turned their [2519]home
   pages black for 48 hours. Several civil-rights groups and
   computing/telecommunications companies mounted a constitutional
   challenge. The CDA was demolished by a strongly-worded decision handed
   down on in 8th-circuit Federal court and subsequently affirmed by the
   U.S. Supreme Court on 26 June 1997 (`White Thursday'). See also
   Node:cdr, Next:[2521]chad, Previous:[2522]CDA, Up:[2523]= C =
   cdr /ku'dr/ or /kuh'dr/ vt.
   [from LISP] To skip past the first item from a list of things
   (generalized from the LISP operation on binary tree structures, which
   returns a list consisting of all but the first element of its
   argument). In the form `cdr down', to trace down a list of elements:
   "Shall we cdr down the agenda?" Usage: silly. See also [2524]loop
   Historical note: The instruction format of the IBM 704 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 part of Register'. Similarly, `car' stood for
   `Contents of Address part of 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.
   Node:chad, Next:[2525]chad box, Previous:[2526]cdr, Up:[2527]= C =
   chad /chad/ n.
   1. [common] The perforated edge strips on printer paper, after they
   have been separated from the printed portion. Also called
   [2528]selvage, [2529]perf, and [2530]ripoff. 2. obs. The confetti-like
   paper bits punched out of cards or paper tape; this has also been
   called `chaff', `computer confetti', and `keypunch droppings'. It's
   reported that this was very old Army slang, and it may now be
   mainstream; it has been reported seen (1993) in directions for a
   card-based voting machine in California.
   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'. There is a legend that the word was
   originally acronymic, standing for "Card Hole Aggregate Debris", but
   this has all the earmarks of a [2531]backronym.
   Node:chad box, Next:[2532]chain, Previous:[2533]chad, Up:[2534]= C =
   chad box n.
   A metal box about the size of a lunchbox (or in some models a large
   wastebasket), for collecting the [2535]chad (sense 2) that accumulated
   in [2536]Iron Age card punches. You had to open the covers of the card
   punch periodically and empty the chad box. The [2537]bit bucket was
   notionally the equivalent device in the CPU enclosure, which was
   typically across the room in another great gray-and-blue box.
   Node:chain, Next:[2538]channel, Previous:[2539]chad box, Up:[2540]= C
   1. vi. [orig. from BASIC's CHAIN statement] To hand off execution to a
   child or successor without going through the [2541]OS command
   interpreter that invoked it. 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 [2542]exec.
   Oppose the more modern `subshell'. 2. n. A series of linked data areas
   within an operating system or application. `Chain rattling' is the
   process of repeatedly running through the linked data areas searching
   for one which is of interest to the executing program. The implication
   is that there is a very large number of links on the chain.
   Node:channel, Next:[2543]channel hopping, Previous:[2544]chain,
   Up:[2545]= C =
   channel n.
   [IRC] The basic unit of discussion on [2546]IRC. Once one joins a
   channel, everything one types is read by others on that channel.
   Channels are named with strings that begin with a `#' sign and can
   have topic descriptions (which are generally irrelevant to the actual
   subject of discussion). Some notable channels are #initgame, #hottub,
   callahans, and #report. At times of international crisis, #report has
   hundreds of members, some of whom take turns listening to various news
   services and typing in summaries of the news, or in some cases, giving
   first-hand accounts of the action (e.g., Scud missile attacks in Tel
   Aviv during the Gulf War in 1991).
   Node:channel hopping, Next:[2547]channel op, Previous:[2548]channel,
   Up:[2549]= C =
   channel hopping n.
   [common; IRC, GEnie] To rapidly switch channels on [2550]IRC, or a
   GEnie chat board, just as a social butterfly might hop from one group
   to another at a party. This term may derive from the TV watcher's
   idiom, `channel surfing'.
   Node:channel op, Next:[2551]chanop, Previous:[2552]channel hopping,
   Up:[2553]= C =
   channel op /chan'l op/ n.
   [IRC] Someone who is endowed with privileges on a particular [2554]IRC
   channel; commonly abbreviated `chanop' or `CHOP' or just `op' (as of
   2000 these short forms have almost crowded out the parent usage).
   These privileges include the right to [2555]kick users, to change
   various status bits, and to make others into CHOPs.
   Node:chanop, Next:[2556]char, Previous:[2557]channel op, Up:[2558]= C
   chanop /chan'-op/ n.
   [IRC] See [2559]channel op.
   Node:char, Next:[2560]charityware, Previous:[2561]chanop, Up:[2562]= C
   char /keir/ or /char/; rarely, /kar/ n.
   Shorthand for `character'. Esp. used by C programmers, as `char' is
   C's typename for character data.
   Node:charityware, Next:[2563]chase pointers, Previous:[2564]char,
   Up:[2565]= C =
   charityware /cha'rit-ee-weir`/ n.
   Syn. [2566]careware.
   Node:chase pointers, Next:[2567]chawmp, Previous:[2568]charityware,
   Up:[2569]= C =
   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 techspeak, but
   it remains jargon when used of human networks. "I'm chasing pointers.
   Bob said you could tell me who to talk to about...." See
   [2570]dangling pointer and [2571]snap. 2. [Cambridge] `pointer chase'
   or `pointer hunt': The process of going through a [2572]core dump
   (sense 1), interactively or on a large piece of paper printed with hex
   [2573]runes, following dynamic data-structures. Used only in a
   debugging context.
   Node:chawmp, Next:[2574]check, Previous:[2575]chase pointers,
   Up:[2576]= C =
   chawmp n.
   [University of Florida] 16 or 18 bits (half of a machine word). This
   term was used by FORTH hackers during the late 1970s/early 1980s; it
   is said to have been archaic then, and may now be obsolete. It was
   coined in revolt against the promiscuous use of `word' for anything
   between 16 and 32 bits; `word' has an additional special meaning for
   FORTH hacks that made the overloading intolerable. For similar
   reasons, /gaw'bl/ (spelled `gawble' or possibly `gawbul') was in use
   as a term for 32 or 48 bits (presumably a full machine word, but our
   sources are unclear on this). These terms are more easily understood
   if one thinks of them as faithful phonetic spellings of `chomp' and
   `gobble' pronounced in a Florida or other Southern U.S. dialect. For
   general discussion of similar terms, see [2577]nybble.
   Node:check, Next:[2578]cheerfully, Previous:[2579]chawmp, Up:[2580]= C
   check n.
   A hardware-detected error condition, most commonly used to refer to
   actual hardware failures rather than software-induced traps. E.g., a
   `parity check' is the result of a hardware-detected parity error.
   Recorded here because the word often humorously extended to
   non-technical problems. For example, the term `child check' has been
   used to refer to the problems caused by a small child who is curious
   to know what happens when s/he presses all the cute buttons on a
   computer's console (of course, this particular problem could have been
   prevented with [2581]molly-guards).
   Node:cheerfully, Next:[2582]chemist, Previous:[2583]check, Up:[2584]=
   C =
   cheerfully adv.
   See [2585]happily.
   Node:chemist, Next:[2586]Chernobyl chicken, Previous:[2587]cheerfully,
   Up:[2588]= C =
   chemist n.
   [Cambridge] Someone who wastes computer time on [2589]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 [2590]life patterns. May or may not refer
   to someone who actually studies chemistry.
   Node:Chernobyl chicken, Next:[2591]Chernobyl packet,
   Previous:[2592]chemist, Up:[2593]= C =
   Chernobyl chicken n.
   See [2594]laser chicken.
   Node:Chernobyl packet, Next:[2595]chicken head,
   Previous:[2596]Chernobyl chicken, Up:[2597]= C =
   Chernobyl packet /cher-noh'b*l pak'*t/ n.
   A network packet that induces a [2598]broadcast storm and/or
   [2599]network meltdown, in memory of the April 1986 nuclear accident
   at Chernobyl in Ukraine. The typical scenario involves an IP Ethernet
   datagram that 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. Compare
   [2600]Christmas tree packet.
   Node:chicken head, Next:[2601]chiclet keyboard,
   Previous:[2602]Chernobyl packet, Up:[2603]= C =
   chicken head n.
   [Commodore] The Commodore Business Machines logo, which strongly
   resembles a poultry part (within Commodore itself the logo was always
   called `chicken lips'). Rendered in ASCII as `C='. With the arguable
   exception of the Amiga (see [2604]amoeba), Commodore's machines were
   notoriously crocky little [2605]bitty boxes (see also [2606]PETSCII),
   albeit people have written multitasking Unix-like operating systems
   with TCP/IP networking for them. Thus, this usage may owe something to
   Philip K. Dick's novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" (the
   basis for the movie "Blade Runner"; the novel is now sold under that
   title), in which a `chickenhead' is a mutant with below-average
   Node:chiclet keyboard, Next:[2607]Chinese Army technique,
   Previous:[2608]chicken head, Up:[2609]= C =
   chiclet keyboard n.
   A keyboard with a small, flat rectangular or lozenge-shaped rubber or
   plastic keys that look like pieces of chewing gum. (Chiclets is the
   brand name of a variety of chewing gum that does in fact resemble the
   keys of chiclet keyboards.) Used esp. to describe the original IBM
   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.
   Node:Chinese Army technique, Next:[2610]choad, Previous:[2611]chiclet
   keyboard, Up:[2612]= C =
   Chinese Army technique n.
   Syn. [2613]Mongolian Hordes technique.
   Node:choad, Next:[2614]choke, Previous:[2615]Chinese Army technique,
   Up:[2616]= C =
   choad /chohd/ n.
   Synonym for `penis' used in alt.tasteless and popularized by the
   denizens thereof. They say: "We think maybe it's from Middle English
   but we're all too damned lazy to check the OED." [I'm not. It isn't.
   --ESR] This term is alleged to have been inherited through 1960s
   underground comics, and to have been recently sighted in the Beavis
   and Butthead cartoons. Speakers of the Hindi, Bengali and Gujarati
   languages have confirmed that `choad' is in fact an Indian vernacular
   word equivalent to `fuck'; it is therefore likely to have entered
   English slang via the British Raj.
   Node:choke, Next:[2617]chomp, Previous:[2618]choad, Up:[2619]= C =
   choke v.
   1. [common] To reject input, often ungracefully. "NULs make System V's
   lpr(1) choke." "I tried building an [2620]EMACS binary to use [2621]X,
   but cpp(1) choked on all those #defines." See [2622]barf, [2623]gag,
   [2624]vi. 2. [MIT] More generally, to fail at any endeavor, but with
   some flair or bravado; the popular definition is "to snatch defeat
   from the jaws of victory."
   Node:chomp, Next:[2625]chomper, Previous:[2626]choke, Up:[2627]= C =
   chomp vi.
   1. To [2628]lose; specifically, to chew on something of which more was
   bitten off than one can. Probably related to gnashing of teeth. 2. To
   bite the bag; See [2629]bagbiter.
   A hand gesture commonly accompanies this. To perform it, hold the four
   fingers together and place the thumb against their tips. Now open and
   close your hand rapidly to suggest a biting action (much like what
   Pac-Man does in the classic video game, though this pantomime seems to
   predate that). The gesture alone means `chomp chomp' (see "[2630]Verb
   Doubling" in the "[2631]Jargon Construction" section of the
   Prependices). The hand may be pointed at the object of complaint, and
   for real emphasis you can use both hands at once. Doing 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.
   Node:chomper, Next:[2632]CHOP, Previous:[2633]chomp, Up:[2634]= C =
   chomper n.
   Someone or something that is chomping; a loser. See [2635]loser,
   [2636]bagbiter, [2637]chomp.
   Node:CHOP, Next:[2638]Christmas tree, Previous:[2639]chomper,
   Up:[2640]= C =
   CHOP /chop/ n.
   [IRC] See [2641]channel op.
   Node:Christmas tree, Next:[2642]Christmas tree packet,
   Previous:[2643]CHOP, Up:[2644]= C =
   Christmas tree n.
   A kind of RS-232 line tester or breakout box featuring rows of
   blinking red and green LEDs suggestive of Christmas lights.
   Node:Christmas tree packet, Next:[2645]chrome,
   Previous:[2646]Christmas tree, Up:[2647]= C =
   Christmas tree packet n.
   A packet with every single option set for whatever protocol is in use.
   See [2648]kamikaze packet, [2649]Chernobyl packet. (The term doubtless
   derives from a fanciful image of each little option bit being
   represented by a different-colored light bulb, all turned on.) Compare
   Node:chrome, Next:[2651]chug, Previous:[2652]Christmas tree packet,
   Up:[2653]= C =
   chrome n.
   [from automotive slang via wargaming] Showy features added to attract
   users but contributing 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 [2654]bells and whistles by the fact that
   the latter are usually added to gratify developers' own desires for
   featurefulness. Often used as a term of contempt.
   Node:chug, Next:[2655]Church of the SubGenius, Previous:[2656]chrome,
   Up:[2657]= C =
   chug vi.
   To run slowly; to [2658]grind or [2659]grovel. "The disk is chugging
   like crazy."
   Node:Church of the SubGenius, Next:[2660]Cinderella Book,
   Previous:[2661]chug, Up:[2662]= C =
   Church of the SubGenius n.
   A mutant offshoot of [2663]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 SubGenius theory is concerned with the
   acquisition of the mystical substance or quality of [2664]slack. There
   is a home page at [2665]
   Node:Cinderella Book, Next:[2666]CI$, Previous:[2667]Church of the
   SubGenius, Up:[2668]= C =
   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 coming out of it. On the back
   cover, the device is in shambles after she has (inevitably) pulled on
   the rope. See also [2669]book titles.
   Node:CI$, Next:[2670]Classic C, Previous:[2671]Cinderella Book,
   Up:[2672]= C =
   CI$ // n.
   Hackerism for `CIS', CompuServe Information Service. The dollar sign
   refers to CompuServe's rather steep line charges. Often used in
   [2673]sig blocks just before a CompuServe address. Syn.
   Node:Classic C, Next:[2675]clean, Previous:[2676]CI$, Up:[2677]= C =
   Classic C /klas'ik C/ n.
   [a play on `Coke Classic'] The C programming language as defined in
   the first edition of [2678]K&R, with some small additions. It is also
   known as `K&R C'. The name came into use while C was being
   standardized by the ANSI X3J11 committee. Also `C Classic'.
   An analogous construction 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.
   Node:clean, Next:[2679]CLM, Previous:[2680]Classic C, Up:[2681]= C =
   clean 1. adj.
   Used of hardware or software designs, implies `elegance in the small',
   that is, a design or implementation that 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
   [2682]crufty. 2. v. To remove unneeded or undesired files in a effort
   to reduce clutter: "I'm cleaning up my account." "I cleaned up the
   garbage and now have 100 Meg free on that partition."
   Node:CLM, Next:[2683]clobber, Previous:[2684]clean, Up:[2685]= C =
   CLM /C-L-M/
   [Sun: `Career Limiting Move'] 1. n. An action endangering one's future
   prospects of getting plum projects and raises, and possibly one's job:
   "His Halloween costume was a parody of his manager. He won the prize
   for `best CLM'." 2. adj. Denotes extreme severity of a bug, discovered
   by a customer and obviously missed earlier because of poor testing:
   "That's a CLM bug!"
   Node:clobber, Next:[2686]clock, Previous:[2687]CLM, Up:[2688]= C =
   clobber vt.
   To overwrite, usually unintentionally: "I walked off the end of the
   array and clobbered the stack." Compare [2689]mung, [2690]scribble,
   [2691]trash, and [2692]smash the stack.
   Node:clock, Next:[2693]clocks, Previous:[2694]clobber, Up:[2695]= C =
   1. n 1. [techspeak] The master oscillator that steps a CPU or other
   digital circuit through its paces. This has nothing to do with the
   time of day, although the software counter that keeps track of the
   latter may be derived from the former. 2. vt. To run a CPU or other
   digital circuit at a particular rate. "If you clock it at 100MHz, it
   gets warm.". See [2696]overclock. 3. vt. To force a digital circuit
   from one state to the next by applying a single clock pulse. "The data
   must be stable 10ns before you clock the latch."
   Node:clocks, Next:[2697]clone, Previous:[2698]clock, Up:[2699]= C =
   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; one good reason for this
   is that clock speeds for various models of the machine may increase as
   technology improves, and it is usually the relative times one is
   interested in when discussing the instruction set. Compare
   [2700]cycle, [2701]jiffy.
   Node:clone, Next:[2702]clone-and-hack coding, Previous:[2703]clocks,
   Up:[2704]= C =
   clone n.
   1. An exact duplicate: "Our product is a clone of their product."
   Implies a legal reimplementation from documentation or by
   reverse-engineering. Also connotes lower price. 2. A shoddy, spurious
   copy: "Their product is a clone of our product." 3. A blatant ripoff,
   most likely violating copyright, patent, or trade secret protections:
   "Your product is a clone of my product." This use implies legal action
   is pending. 4. `PC clone:' a PC-BUS/ISA or EISA-compatible 80x86-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 without 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
   [2705]mung it".
   Node:clone-and-hack coding, Next:[2706]clover key,
   Previous:[2707]clone, Up:[2708]= C =
   clone-and-hack coding n.
   [DEC] Syn. [2709]case and paste.
   Node:clover key, Next:[2710]clue-by-four,
   Previous:[2711]clone-and-hack coding, Up:[2712]= C =
   clover key n.
   [Mac users] See [2713]feature key.
   Node:clue-by-four, Next:[2714]clustergeeking, Previous:[2715]clover
   key, Up:[2716]= C =
   [Usenet: portmanteau, clue + two-by-four] The notional stick with
   which one whacks an aggressively clueless person. This term derives
   from a western American folk saying about training a mule "First, you
   got to hit him with a two-by-four. That's to get his attention." The
   clue-by-four is a close relative of the [2717]LART. Syn. `clue stick'.
   This metaphor is commonly elaborated; your editor once heard a hacker
   say "I strike you with the great sword Clue-Bringer!"
   Node:clustergeeking, Next:[2718]co-lo, Previous:[2719]clue-by-four,
   Up:[2720]= C =
   clustergeeking /kluh'st*r-gee`king/ n.
   [CMU] Spending more time at a computer cluster doing CS homework than
   most people spend breathing.
   Node:co-lo, Next:[2721]coaster, Previous:[2722]clustergeeking,
   Up:[2723]= C =
   co-lo /koh'loh`/ n.
   [very common; first heard c.1995] Short for `co-location', used of a
   machine you own that is physically sited on the premises of an ISP in
   order to take advantage of the ISP's direct access to lots of network
   bandwidthm. Often in the phrases `co-lo box' or `co-lo machines'.
   Co-lo boxes are typically web and FTP servers remote-administered by
   their owners, who may seldom or never visit the actual site.
   Node:coaster, Next:[2724]COBOL, Previous:[2725]co-lo, Up:[2726]= C =
   coaster n.
   1. Unuseable CD produced during failed attempt at writing to writeable
   or re-writeable CD media. Certainly related to the coaster-like shape
   of a CD, and the relative value of these failures. "I made a lot of
   coasters before I got a good CD." 2. Useless CDs received in the mail
   from the likes of AOL, MSN, CI$, Prodigy, ad nauseam.
   In the U.K., `beermat' is often used in these senses.
   Node:COBOL, Next:[2727]COBOL fingers, Previous:[2728]coaster,
   Up:[2729]= C =
   COBOL /koh'bol/ n.
   [COmmon Business-Oriented Language] (Synonymous with [2730]evil.) A
   weak, verbose, and flabby language used by [2731]card wallopers to do
   boring mindless things on [2732]dinosaur mainframes. Hackers believe
   that all COBOL programmers are [2733]suits or [2734]code grinders, 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. One popular one is Edsger W. Dijkstra's famous
   observation that "The use of COBOL cripples the mind; its teaching
   should, therefore, be regarded as a criminal offense." (from "Selected
   Writings on Computing: A Personal Perspective") See also [2735]fear
   and loathing, [2736]software rot.
   Node:COBOL fingers, Next:[2737]cobweb site, Previous:[2738]COBOL,
   Up:[2739]= C =
   COBOL fingers /koh'bol fing'grz/ n.
   Reported from Sweden, a (hypothetical) disease one might get from
   coding in COBOL. The language requires code verbose beyond all reason
   (see [2740]candygrammar); thus it is alleged that programming too much
   in COBOL causes one's fingers to wear down to stubs by the endless
   typing. "I refuse to type in all that source code again; it would give
   me COBOL fingers!"
   Node:cobweb site, Next:[2741]code, Previous:[2742]COBOL fingers,
   Up:[2743]= C =
   cobweb site n.
   A World Wide Web Site that hasn't been updated so long it has
   figuratively grown cobwebs.
   Node:code, Next:[2744]code grinder, Previous:[2745]cobweb site,
   Up:[2746]= C =
   code n.
   The stuff that software writers write, either in source form or after
   translation by a compiler or assembler. Often used in opposition to
   "data", which is the stuff that code operates on. This is a mass noun,
   as in "How much code does it take to do a [2747]bubble sort?", or "The
   code is loaded at the high end of RAM." Anyone referring to software
   as "the software codes" is probably a [2748]newbie or a [2749]suit.
   Node:code grinder, Next:[2750]code monkey, Previous:[2751]code,
   Up:[2752]= C =
   code grinder n.
   1. A [2753]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 its 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 [2754]code grinder's
   milieu is about as far from hackerdom as one can get and still touch a
   computer; the term connotes pity. See [2755]Real World, [2756]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, [2757]brute force, and utter lack of imagination.
   Compare [2758]card walloper; contrast [2759]hacker, [2760]Real
   Node:code monkey, Next:[2761]Code of the Geeks, Previous:[2762]code
   grinder, Up:[2763]= C =
   code monkey n
   1. A person only capable of grinding out code, but unable to perform
   the higher-primate tasks of software architecture, analysis, and
   design. Mildly insulting. Often applied to the most junior people on a
   programming team. 2. Anyone who writes code for a living; a
   programmer. 3. A self-deprecating way of denying responsibility for a
   [2764]management decision, or of complaining about having to live with
   such decisions. As in "Don't ask me why we need to write a compiler
   in+COBOL, I'm just a code monkey."
   Node:Code of the Geeks, Next:[2765]code police, Previous:[2766]code
   monkey, Up:[2767]= C =
   Code of the Geeks n.
   see [2768]geek code.
   Node:code police, Next:[2769]codes, Previous:[2770]Code of the Geeks,
   Up:[2771]= C =
   code police n.
   [by analogy with George Orwell's `thought police'] A mythical team of
   Gestapo-like storm troopers that might burst into one's office and
   arrest one for violating programming 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 [2772]weenies. "Dike
   out that goto or the code police will get you!" The ironic usage is
   perhaps more common.
   Node:codes, Next:[2773]codewalker, Previous:[2774]code police,
   Up:[2775]= C =
   codes n.
   [scientific computing] Programs. This usage is common in people who
   hack supercomputers and heavy-duty [2776]number-crunching, rare to
   unknown elsewhere (if you say "codes" to hackers outside scientific
   computing, their first association is likely to be "and cyphers").
   Node:codewalker, Next:[2777]coefficient of X, Previous:[2778]codes,
   Up:[2779]= C =
   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."
   Node:coefficient of X, Next:[2780]cokebottle,
   Previous:[2781]codewalker, Up:[2782]= C =
   coefficient of X n.
   Hackish speech makes heavy use of pseudo-mathematical metaphors. Four
   particularly important ones involve the terms `coefficient', `factor',
   `index of X', and `quotient'. They are often loosely applied to things
   you cannot really be quantitative about, but there are subtle
   distinctions among 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
   [2783]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 emphasizes that it was
   bad luck overpowering good luck (or someone else's good luck
   overpowering your own).
   `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'.
   Node:cokebottle, Next:[2784]cold boot, Previous:[2785]coefficient of
   X, Up:[2786]= C =
   cokebottle /kohk'bot-l/ n.
   Any very unusual character, particularly one you can't type because it
   isn't on your keyboard. MIT people used to complain about the
   `control-meta-cokebottle' commands at SAIL, and SAIL people complained
   right back about the `escape-escape-cokebottle' commands at MIT. After
   the demise of the [2787]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(1),
   has a reserved keystroke for switching to the default set of
   keybindings and behavior. This keystroke is (believe it or not)
   `control-meta-bang' (see [2788]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 [2789]quadruple
   Node:cold boot, Next:[2790]COME FROM, Previous:[2791]cokebottle,
   Up:[2792]= C =
   cold boot n.
   See [2793]boot.
   Node:COME FROM, Next:[2794]comm mode, Previous:[2795]cold boot,
   Up:[2796]= C =
   A semi-mythical language construct dual to the `go to'; COME FROM