Jargon file v2.1.5 28 NOV 1990 -- part 2 of 6

Jargon file v2.1.5 28 NOV 1990 -- part 2 of 6

Post by Eric S. Raymo » Fri, 30 Nov 1990 02:57:38

                        = C =

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CRYONICS n. The practice of freezing oneself in hopes of being revived
   in the future by CELL-REPAIR MACHINES. A possible route to
   technological immortality already taken by 1990 by more than a
   handful of persons with terminal illnesses.

CTSS (see-tee-ess-ess) n. Compatible Time-Sharing System. An early
   (1963) experiment in the design of interactive time-sharing
   operating systems. Cited here because it was ancestral to MULTICS,
   UNIX, and ITS (q.v.).

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

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

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

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

                        = D =

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

DAY MODE n. See PHASE (of people).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                        = E =

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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