Part 6 out of 29
Node:creeping featurism, Next:creeping featuritis,
Previous:creeping elegance, Up:= C =
creeping featurism /kree'ping fee'chr-izm/ n.
[common] 1. Describes a systematic tendency to load more chrome
and features onto systems at the expense of whatever elegance
they may have possessed when originally designed. See also
feeping creaturism. "You know, the main problem with BSD
Unix has always been creeping featurism." 2. More generally, the
tendency for anything complicated to become even more complicated
because people keep saying "Gee, it would be even better if it had
this feature too". (See feature.) The result is usually a
patchwork because it grew one ad-hoc step at a time, rather than being
planned. Planning is a lot of work, but it's easy to add just one
extra little feature to help someone ... and then another ... and
another.... When creeping featurism gets out of hand, it's like a
cancer. Usually this term is used to describe computer programs, but
it could also be said of the federal government, the IRS 1040 form,
and new cars. A similar phenomenon sometimes afflicts conscious
redesigns; see second-system effect. See also creeping
Node:creeping featuritis, Next:cretin, Previous:creeping
featurism, Up:= C =
creeping featuritis /kree'ping fee'-chr-i:`t*s/ n.
Variant of creeping featurism, with its own spoonerization:
`feeping creaturitis'. Some people like to reserve this form for the
disease as it actually manifests in software or hardware, as opposed
to the lurking general tendency in designers' minds. (After all, -ism
means `condition' or `pursuit of', whereas -itis usually means
Node:cretin, Next:cretinous, Previous:creeping featuritis,
Up:= C =
cretin /kret'in/ or /kree'tn/ n.
Congenital loser; an obnoxious person; someone who can't do
anything right. It has been observed that many American hackers tend
to favor the British pronunciation /kret'in/ over standard American
/kree'tn/; it is thought this may be due to the insidious phonetic
influence of Monty Python's Flying Circus.
Node:cretinous, Next:crippleware, Previous:cretin,
Up:= C =
cretinous /kret'n-*s/ or /kreet'n-*s/ adj.
Wrong; stupid; non-functional; very poorly designed. Also used
pejoratively of people. See dread high-bit disease for an
example. Approximate synonyms: bletcherous, bagbiting
Node:crippleware, Next:critical mass, Previous:cretinous,
Up:= C =
1. [common] Software that has some important functionality
deliberately removed, so as to entice potential users to pay for a
working version. 2. [Cambridge] Variety of guiltware that
exhorts you to donate to some charity (compare careware,
nagware). 3. Hardware deliberately crippled, which can be
upgraded to a more expensive model by a trivial change (e.g., cutting
An excellent example of crippleware (sense 3) is Intel's 486SX chip,
which is a standard 486DX chip with the co-processor diked out (in
some early versions it was present but disabled). To upgrade, you buy
a complete 486DX chip with working co-processor (its identity thinly
veiled by a different pinout) and plug it into the board's expansion
socket. It then disables the SX, which becomes a fancy power sink.
Don't you love Intel?
Node:critical mass, Next:crlf, Previous:crippleware,
Up:= C =
critical mass n.
In physics, the minimum amount of fissionable material required to
sustain a chain reaction. Of a software product, describes a condition
of the software such that fixing one bug introduces one plus
epsilon bugs. (This malady has many causes: creeping
featurism, ports to too many disparate environments, poor initial
design, etc.) When software achieves critical mass, it can never be
fixed; it can only be discarded and rewritten.
Node:crlf, Next:crock, Previous:critical mass, Up:=
crlf /ker'l*f/, sometimes /kru'l*f/ or /C-R-L-F/ n.
(often capitalized as `CRLF') A carriage return (CR, ASCII 0001101)
followed by a line feed (LF, ASCII 0001010). More loosely, whatever it
takes to get you from the end of one line of text to the beginning of
the next line. See newline, terpri. Under Unix
influence this usage has become less common (Unix uses a bare line
feed as its `CRLF').
Node:crock, Next:cross-post, Previous:crlf, Up:= C =
[from the American scatologism `crock of shit'] 1. An awkward feature
or programming technique that ought to be made cleaner. For example,
using small integers to represent error codes without the program
interpreting them to the user (as in, for example, Unix make(1), which
returns code 139 for a process that dies due to segfault). 2. A
technique that works acceptably, but which is quite prone to failure
if disturbed in the least. For example, a too-clever programmer might
write an assembler which mapped instruction mnemonics to numeric
opcodes algorithmically, a trick which depends far too intimately on
the particular bit patterns of the opcodes. (For another example of
programming with a dependence on actual opcode values, see The
Story of Mel in Appendix A.) Many crocks have a tightly woven, almost
completely unmodifiable structure. See kluge, brittle. The
adjectives `crockish' and `crocky', and the nouns `crockishness' and
`crockitude', are also used.
Node:cross-post, Next:crossload, Previous:crock,
Up:= C =
[Usenet; very common] To post a single article simultaneously to
several newsgroups. Distinguished from posting the article repeatedly,
once to each newsgroup, which causes people to see it multiple times
(which is very bad form). Gratuitous cross-posting without a
Followup-To line directing responses to a single followup group is
frowned upon, as it tends to cause followup articles to go to
inappropriate newsgroups when people respond to only one part of the
Node:crossload, Next:crudware, Previous:cross-post,
Up:= C =
[proposed, by analogy with upload and download] To move
files between machines on a peer-to-peer network of nodes that act as
both servers and clients for a distributed file store. Esp.
appropriate for ananonymized networks like Gnutella and Freenet.
Node:crudware, Next:cruft, Previous:crossload, Up:=
crudware /kruhd'weir/ n.
Pejorative term for the hundreds of megabytes of low-quality
freeware circulated by user's groups and BBS systems in the
micro-hobbyist world. "Yet another set of disk catalog utilities for
MS-DOS? What crudware!"
Node:cruft, Next:cruft together, Previous:crudware,
Up:= C =
[very common; back-formation from crufty] 1. n. An unpleasant
substance. The dust that gathers under your bed is cruft; the TMRC
Dictionary correctly noted that attacking it with a broom only
produces more. 2. n. The results of shoddy construction. 3. vt. [from
`hand cruft', pun on `hand craft'] To write assembler code for
something normally (and better) done by a compiler (see
hand-hacking). 4. n. Excess; superfluous junk; used esp. of
redundant or superseded code. 5. [University of Wisconsin] n. Cruft is
to hackers as gaggle is to geese; that is, at UW one properly says "a
cruft of hackers".
Node:cruft together, Next:cruftsmanship, Previous:cruft,
Up:= C =
cruft together vt.
(also `cruft up') To throw together something ugly but temporarily
workable. Like vt. kluge up, but more pejorative. "There isn't
any program now to reverse all the lines of a file, but I can probably
cruft one together in about 10 minutes." See hack together,
hack up, kluge up, crufty.
Node:cruftsmanship, Next:crufty, Previous:cruft together,
Up:= C =
cruftsmanship /kruhfts'm*n-ship / n.
[from cruft] The antithesis of craftsmanship.
Node:crufty, Next:crumb, Previous:cruftsmanship,
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crufty /kruhf'tee/ adj.
[very common; origin unknown; poss. from `crusty' or `cruddy'] 1.
Poorly built, possibly over-complex. The canonical example is
"This is standard old crufty DEC software". In fact, one
fanciful theory of the origin of `crufty' holds that was originally a
mutation of `crusty' applied to DEC software so old that the `s'
characters were tall and skinny, looking more like `f' characters. 2.
Unpleasant, especially to the touch, often with encrusted junk. Like
spilled coffee smeared with peanut butter and catsup. 3. Generally
unpleasant. 4. (sometimes spelled `cruftie') n. A small crufty object
(see frob); often one that doesn't fit well into the scheme of
things. "A LISP property list is a good place to store crufties (or,
collectively, random cruft)."
This term is one of the oldest in the jargon and no one is sure of its
etymology, but it is suggestive that there is a Cruft Hall at Harvard
University which is part of the old physics building; it's said to
have been the physics department's radar lab during WWII. To this day
(early 1993) the windows appear to be full of random techno-junk. MIT
or Lincoln Labs people may well have coined the term as a knock on the
Node:crumb, Next:crunch, Previous:crufty, Up:= C =
Two binary digits; a quad. Larger than a bit, smaller than
a nybble. Considered silly. Syn. tayste. General
discussion of such terms is under nybble.
Node:crunch, Next:cryppie, Previous:crumb, Up:= C =
crunch 1. vi.
To process, usually in a time-consuming or complicated way. Connotes
an essentially trivial operation that is nonetheless painful to
perform. The pain may be due to the triviality's being embedded in a
loop from 1 to 1,000,000,000. "FORTRAN programs do mostly
number-crunching." 2. vt. To reduce the size of a file by a
complicated scheme that produces bit configurations completely
unrelated to the original data, such as by a Huffman code. (The file
ends up looking something like a paper document would if somebody
crunched the paper into a wad.) Since such compression usually takes
more computations than simpler methods such as run-length encoding,
the term is doubly appropriate. (This meaning is usually used in the
construction `file crunch(ing)' to distinguish it from
number-crunching.) See compress. 3. n. The character #.
Used at XEROX and CMU, among other places. See ASCII. 4. vt. To
squeeze program source into a minimum-size representation that will
still compile or execute. The term came into being specifically for a
famous program on the BBC micro that crunched BASIC source in order to
make it run more quickly (it was a wholly interpretive BASIC, so the
number of characters mattered). Obfuscated C Contest entries are
often crunched; see the first example under that entry.
Node:cryppie, Next:CTSS, Previous:crunch, Up:= C =
cryppie /krip'ee/ n.
A cryptographer. One who hacks or implements cryptographic software or
Node:CTSS, Next:cube, Previous:cryppie, Up:= C =
CTSS /C-T-S-S/ n.
Compatible Time-Sharing System. An early (1963) experiment in the
design of interactive time-sharing operating systems, ancestral to
Multics, Unix, and ITS. The name ITS
(Incompatible Time-sharing System) was a hack on CTSS, meant both as a
joke and to express some basic differences in philosophy about the way
I/O services should be presented to user programs.
Node:cube, Next:cubing, Previous:CTSS, Up:= C =
1. [short for `cubicle'] A module in the open-plan offices used at
many programming shops. "I've got the manuals in my cube." 2. A NeXT
machine (which resembles a matte-black cube).
Node:cubing, Next:cup holder, Previous:cube, Up:= C
[parallel with `tubing'] 1. Hacking on an IPSC (Intel Personal
SuperComputer) hypercube. "Louella's gone cubing again!!" 2. Hacking
Rubik's Cube or related puzzles, either physically or mathematically.
3. An indescribable form of self-torture (see sense 1 or 2).
Node:cup holder, Next:cursor dipped in X, Previous:cubing,
Up:= C =
cup holder n.
The tray of a CD-ROM drive, or by extension the CD drive itself. So
called because of a common tech support legend about the idiot who
called to complain that the cup holder on his computer broke. A joke
program was once distributed around the net called "cupholder.exe",
which when run simply extended the CD drive tray. The humor of this
was of course lost on people whose drive had a slot or a caddy
Node:cursor dipped in X, Next:cuspy, Previous:cup holder,
Up:= C =
cursor dipped in X n.
There are a couple of metaphors in English of the form `pen dipped in
X' (perhaps the most common values of X are `acid', `bile', and
`vitriol'). These map over neatly to this hackish usage (the cursor
being what moves, leaving letters behind, when one is composing
on-line). "Talk about a nastygram! He must've had his cursor
dipped in acid when he wrote that one!"
Node:cuspy, Next:cut a tape, Previous:cursor dipped in X,
Up:= C =
cuspy /kuhs'pee/ adj.
[WPI: from the DEC abbreviation CUSP, for `Commonly Used System
Program', i.e., a utility program used by many people] 1. (of a
program) Well-written. 2. Functionally excellent. A program that
performs well and interfaces well to users is cuspy. See rude.
3. [NYU] Said of an attractive woman, especially one regarded as
available. Implies a certain curvaceousness.
Node:cut a tape, Next:cybercrud, Previous:cuspy,
Up:= C =
cut a tape vi.
To write a software or document distribution on magnetic tape for
shipment. Has nothing to do with physically cutting the medium! Early
versions of this lexicon claimed that one never analogously speaks of
`cutting a disk', but this has since been reported as live usage.
Related slang usages are mainstream business's `cut a check', the
recording industry's `cut a record', and the military's `cut an
All of these usages reflect physical processes in obsolete recording
and duplication technologies. The first stage in manufacturing an
old-style vinyl record involved cutting grooves in a stamping die with
a precision lathe. More mundanely, the dominant technology for mass
duplication of paper documents in pre-photocopying days involved
"cutting a stencil", punching away portions of the wax overlay on a
silk screen. More directly, paper tape with holes punched in it was an
important early storage medium.
Node:cybercrud, Next:cyberpunk, Previous:cut a tape,
Up:= C =
cybercrud /si:'ber-kruhd/ n.
1. [coined by Ted Nelson] Obfuscatory tech-talk. Verbiage with a high
MEGO factor. The computer equivalent of bureaucratese. 2.
Incomprehensible stuff embedded in email. First there were the
"Received" headers that show how mail flows through systems, then MIME
(Multi-purpose Internet Mail Extensions) headers and part boundaries,
and now huge blocks of radix-64 for PEM (Privacy Enhanced Mail) or PGP
(Pretty Good Privacy) digital signatures and certificates of
authenticity. This stuff all services a purpose and good user
interfaces should hide it, but all too often users are forced to wade
Node:cyberpunk, Next:cyberspace, Previous:cybercrud,
Up:= C =
cyberpunk /si:'ber-puhnk/ n.,adj.
[orig. by SF writer Bruce Bethke and/or editor Gardner Dozois] A
subgenre of SF launched in 1982 by William Gibson's epoch-making novel
"Neuromancer" (though its roots go back through Vernor Vinge's "True
Names" (see the Bibliography in Appendix C) to John Brunner's
1975 novel "The Shockwave Rider"). Gibson's near-total ignorance of
computers and the present-day hacker culture enabled him to speculate
about the role of computers and hackers in the future in ways hackers
have since found both irritatingly naïve and tremendously stimulating.
Gibson's work was widely imitated, in particular by the short-lived
but innovative "Max Headroom" TV series. See cyberspace,
ice, jack in, go flatline.
Since 1990 or so, popular culture has included a movement or fashion
trend that calls itself `cyberpunk', associated especially with the
rave/techno subculture. Hackers have mixed feelings about this. On the
one hand, self-described cyberpunks too often seem to be shallow
trendoids in black leather who have substituted enthusiastic
blathering about technology for actually learning and doing it.
Attitude is no substitute for competence. On the other hand, at least
cyberpunks are excited about the right things and properly respectful
of hacking talent in those who have it. The general consensus is to
tolerate them politely in hopes that they'll attract people who grow
into being true hackers.
Node:cyberspace, Next:cycle, Previous:cyberpunk,
Up:= C =
cyberspace /si:'br-spays`/ n.
1. Notional `information-space' loaded with visual cues and navigable
with brain-computer interfaces called `cyberspace decks'; a
characteristic prop of cyberpunk SF. Serious efforts to
construct virtual reality interfaces modeled explicitly on
Gibsonian cyberspace are under way, using more conventional devices
such as glove sensors and binocular TV headsets. Few hackers are
prepared to deny outright the possibility of a cyberspace someday
evolving out of the network (see the network). 2. The Internet
or Matrix (sense #2) as a whole, considered as a crude
cyberspace (sense 1). Although this usage became widely popular in the
mainstream press during 1994 when the Internet exploded into public
awareness, it is strongly deprecated among hackers because the
Internet does not meet the high, SF-inspired standards they have for
true cyberspace technology. Thus, this use of the term usually tags a
wannabee or outsider. Oppose meatspace. 3. Occasionally,
the metaphoric location of the mind of a person in hack mode.
Some hackers report experiencing strong eidetic imagery when in hack
mode; interestingly, independent reports from multiple sources suggest
that there are common features to the experience. In particular, the
dominant colors of this subjective `cyberspace' are often gray and
silver, and the imagery often involves constellations of marching
dots, elaborate shifting patterns of lines and angles, or moire
Node:cycle, Next:cycle crunch, Previous:cyberspace,
Up:= C =
1. n. The basic unit of computation. What every hacker wants more of
(noted hacker Bill Gosper described himself as a "cycle junkie"). One
can describe an instruction as taking so many `clock cycles'. Often
the computer can access its memory once on every clock cycle, and so
one speaks also of `memory cycles'. These are technical meanings of
cycle. The jargon meaning comes from the observation that there
are only so many cycles per second, and when you are sharing a
computer the cycles get divided up among the users. The more cycles
the computer spends working on your program rather than someone
else's, the faster your program will run. That's why every hacker
wants more cycles: so he can spend less time waiting for the computer
to respond. 2. By extension, a notional unit of human thought power,
emphasizing that lots of things compete for the typical hacker's think
time. "I refused to get involved with the Rubik's Cube back when it
was big. Knew I'd burn too many cycles on it if I let myself." 3. vt.
Syn. bounce (sense 4), 120 reset; from the phrase `cycle
power'. "Cycle the machine again, that serial port's still hung."
Node:cycle crunch, Next:cycle drought, Previous:cycle,
Up:= C =
cycle crunch n.,obs.
A situation wherein the number of people trying to use a computer
simultaneously has reached the point where no one can get enough
cycles because they are spread too thin and the system has probably
begun to thrash. This scenario is an inevitable result of
Parkinson's Law applied to timesharing. Usually the only solution is
to buy more computer. Happily, this has rapidly become easier since
the mid-1980s, so much so that the very term `cycle crunch' now has a
faintly archaic flavor; most hackers now use workstations or personal
computers as opposed to traditional timesharing systems, and are far
more likely to complain of `bandwidth crunch' on their shared networks
rather than cycle crunch.
Node:cycle drought, Next:cycle of reincarnation,
Previous:cycle crunch, Up:= C =
cycle drought n.
A scarcity of cycles. It may be due to a cycle crunch, but it
could also occur because part of the computer is temporarily not
working, leaving fewer cycles to go around. "The high moby is
down, so we're running with only half the usual amount of
memory. There will be a cycle drought until it's fixed."
Node:cycle of reincarnation, Next:cycle server,
Previous:cycle drought, Up:= C =
cycle of reincarnation n.
See wheel of reincarnation.
Node:cycle server, Next:cypherpunk, Previous:cycle of
reincarnation, Up:= C =
cycle server n.
A powerful machine that exists primarily for running large compute-,
disk-, or memory-intensive jobs (more formally called a `compute
server'). Implies that interactive tasks such as editing are done on
other machines on the network, such as workstations.
Node:cypherpunk, Next:C|N>K, Previous:cycle server,
Up:= C =
[from cyberpunk] Someone interested in the uses of encryption
via electronic ciphers for enhancing personal privacy and guarding
against tyranny by centralized, authoritarian power structures,
especially government. There is an active cypherpunks mailing list at
email@example.com coordinating work on public-key
encryption freeware, privacy, and digital cash. See also
Node:C|N>K, Next:D. C. Power Lab, Previous:cypherpunk,
Up:= C =
[Usenet] Coffee through Nose to Keyboard; that is, "I laughed so hard
I snarfed my coffee onto my keyboard.". Common on
alt.fan.pratchett and scary devil monastery; recognized
elsewhere. The Acronymphomania FAQ on alt.fan.pratchett
recognizes variants such as T|N>K = `Tea through Nose to Keyboard' and
C|N>S = `Coffee through Nose to Screen'.
Node:= D =, Next:= E =, Previous:= C =, Up:The
= D =
* D. C. Power Lab:
* daemon book:
* dancing frog:
* dangling pointer:
* dark-side hacker:
* Dave the Resurrector:
* day mode:
* dead beef attack:
* dead code:
* dead link:
* deadly embrace:
* death code:
* Death Square:
* Death Star:
* DEC Wars:
* deep hack mode:
* deep magic:
* deep space:
* defined as:
* demo mode:
* demon dialer:
* deserves to lose:
* desk check:
* Devil Book:
* dickless workstation:
* dictionary flame:
* die horribly:
* dinosaur pen:
* dinosaurs mating:
* dirty power:
* disk farm:
* display hack:
* Dissociated Press:
* do protocol:
* Don't do that then!:
* DoS attack:
* dot file:
* double bucky:
* doubled sig:
* Dr. Fred Mbogo:
* Dragon Book:
* dread high-bit disease:
* Dread Questionmark Disease:
* drool-proof paper:
* drop on the floor:
* drunk mouse syndrome:
* dub dub dub:
* Duff's device:
* dumb terminal:
* dumbass attack:
* dumbed down:
* dumpster diving:
* dup killer:
* dup loop:
* dusty deck:
Node:D. C. Power Lab, Next:daemon, Previous:C|N>K,
Up:= D =
D. C. Power Lab n.
The former site of SAIL. Hackers thought this was very funny
because the obvious connection to electrical engineering was
nonexistent -- the lab was named for a Donald C. Power. Compare
Node:daemon, Next:daemon book, Previous:D. C. Power Lab,
Up:= D =
daemon /day'mn/ or /dee'mn/ n.
[from the mythological meaning, later rationalized as the acronym
`Disk And Execution MONitor'] A program that is not invoked
explicitly, but lies dormant waiting for some condition(s) to occur.
The idea is that the perpetrator of the condition need not be aware
that a daemon is lurking (though often a program will commit an action
only because it knows that it will implicitly invoke a daemon). For
example, under ITS writing a file on the LPT spooler's
directory would invoke the spooling daemon, which would then print the
file. The advantage is that programs wanting (in this example) files
printed need neither compete for access to nor understand any
idiosyncrasies of 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.
Daemon and demon are often used interchangeably, but seem to
have distinct connotations. The term `daemon' was introduced to
computing by CTSS people (who pronounced it /dee'mon/) and used
it to refer to what ITS called a dragon; the prototype was a
program called DAEMON that automatically made tape backups of the file
system. Although the meaning and the pronunciation have drifted, we
think this glossary reflects current (2000) usage.
Node:daemon book, Next:dahmum, Previous:daemon, Up:=
daemon book n.
"The Design and Implementation of the 4.3BSD UNIX Operating System",
by Samuel J. Leffler, Marshall Kirk McKusick, Michael J. Karels, and
John S. Quarterman (Addison-Wesley Publishers, 1989, ISBN
0-201-06196-1); or "The Design and Implementation of the 4.4 BSD
Operating System" by Marshall Kirk McKusick, Keith Bostic, Michael J.
Karels and John S. Quarterman (Addison-Wesley Longman, 1996, SBN
0-201-54979-4) Either of the standard reference books on the internals
of BSD Unix. So called because the covers have a picture
depicting a little devil (a visual play on daemon) in sneakers,
holding a pitchfork (referring to one of the characteristic features
of Unix, the fork(2) system call). Also known as the Devil Book.
Node:dahmum, Next:dancing frog, Previous:daemon book,
Up:= D =
dahmum /dah'mum/ n.
[Usenet] The material of which protracted flame wars, especially
those about operating systems, is composed. Homeomorphic to
spam. The term `dahmum' is derived from the name of a militant
OS/2 advocate, and originated when an extensively crossposted
OS/2-versus-Linux debate was fed through Dissociated
Node:dancing frog, Next:dangling pointer, Previous:dahmum,
Up:= D =
dancing frog n.
[Vancouver area] A problem that occurs on a computer that will not
reappear while anyone else is watching. From the classic Warner
Brothers cartoon "One Froggy Evening", featuring a dancing and singing
Michigan J. Frog that just croaks when anyone else is around (now the
WB network mascot).
Node:dangling pointer, Next:dark-side hacker,
Previous:dancing frog, Up:= D =
dangling pointer n.
[common] A reference that doesn't actually lead anywhere (in C and
some other languages, a pointer that doesn't actually point at
anything valid). Usually this happens because it formerly pointed to
something that has moved or disappeared. Used as jargon in a
generalization of its techspeak meaning; for example, a local phone
number for a person who has since moved to the other coast is a
dangling pointer. Compare dead link.
Node:dark-side hacker, Next:Datamation, Previous:dangling
pointer, Up:= D =
dark-side hacker n.
A criminal or malicious hacker; a cracker. From George Lucas's
Darth Vader, "seduced by the dark side of the Force". The implication
that hackers form a sort of elite of technological Jedi Knights is
intended. Oppose samurai.
Node:Datamation, Next:DAU, Previous:dark-side hacker,
Up:= D =
Datamation /day`t*-may'sh*n/ n.
A magazine that many hackers assume all suits read. Used to
question an unbelieved quote, as in "Did you read that in
`Datamation?'" (But see below; this slur may be dated by the time you
read this.) It used to publish something hackishly funny every once in
a while, like the original paper on COME FROM in 1973, and Ed
Post's "Real Programmers Don't Use Pascal" ten years later, but for a
long time after that it was much more exclusively suit-oriented
and boring. Following a change of editorship in 1994, Datamation is
trying for more of the technical content and irreverent humor that
marked its early days.
Datamation now has a WWW page at http://www.datamation.com worth
visiting for its selection of computer humor, including "Real
Programmers Don't Use Pascal" and the `Bastard Operator From Hell'
stories by Simon Travaglia (see BOFH).
Node:DAU, Next:Dave the Resurrector, Previous:Datamation,
Up:= D =
DAU /dow/ n.
[German FidoNet] German acronym for Dümmster Anzunehmender User
(stupidest imaginable user). From the engineering-slang GAU for
Grösster Anzunehmender Unfall, worst assumable accident, esp. of a LNG
tank farm plant or something with similarly disastrous consequences.
In popular German, GAU is used only to refer to worst-case nuclear
acidents such as a core meltdown. See cretin, fool,
loser and weasel.
Node:Dave the Resurrector, Next:day mode, Previous:DAU,
Up:= D =
Dave the Resurrector n.
[Usenet; also abbreviated DtR] A cancelbot that cancels cancels.
Dave the Resurrector originated when some spam-spewers decided
to try to impede spam-fighting by wholesale cancellation of anti-spam
coordination messages in the news.admin.net-abuse.usenet newsgroup.
Node:day mode, Next:dd, Previous:Dave the Resurrector,
Up:= D =
day mode n.
See phase (sense 1). Used of people only.
Node:dd, Next:DDT, Previous:day mode, Up:= D =
dd /dee-dee/ vt.
[Unix: from IBM JCL] Equivalent to cat or BLT.
Originally the name of a Unix copy command with special options
suitable for block-oriented devices; it was often used in heavy-handed
system maintenance, as in "Let's dd the root partition onto a tape,
then use the boot PROM to load it back on to a new disk". The Unix
dd(1) was designed with a weird, distinctly non-Unixy keyword option
syntax reminiscent of IBM System/360 JCL (which had an elaborate DD
`Dataset Definition' specification for I/O devices); though the
command filled a need, the interface design was clearly a prank. The
jargon usage is now very rare outside Unix sites and now nearly
obsolete even there, as dd(1) has been deprecated for a long
time (though it has no exact replacement). The term has been displaced
by BLT or simple English `copy'.
Node:DDT, Next:de-rezz, Previous:dd, Up:= D =
DDT /D-D-T/ n.
[from the insecticide para-dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethene] 1.
Generic term for a program that assists in debugging other programs by
showing individual machine instructions in a readable symbolic form
and letting the user change them. In this sense the term DDT is now
archaic, having been widely displaced by `debugger' or names of
individual programs like adb, sdb, dbx, or gdb. 2. [ITS] Under MIT's
fabled ITS operating system, DDT (running under the alias
HACTRN, a six-letterism for `Hack Translator') was also used as the
shell or top level command language used to execute other
programs. 3. Any one of several specific DDTs (sense 1) supported on
early DEC hardware and CP/M. The PDP-10 Reference Handbook
(1969) contained a footnote on the first page of the documentation for
DDT that illuminates the origin of the term:
Historical footnote: DDT was developed at MIT for the PDP-1
computer in 1961. At that time DDT stood for "DEC Debugging Tape".
Since then, the idea of an on-line debugging program has propagated
throughout the computer industry. DDT programs are now available
for all DEC computers. Since media other than tape are now
frequently used, the more descriptive name "Dynamic Debugging
Technique" has been adopted, retaining the DDT abbreviation.
Confusion between DDT-10 and another well known pesticide,
dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (C14-H9-Cl5) should be minimal
since each attacks a different, and apparently mutually exclusive,
class of bugs.
(The `tape' referred to was, incidentally, not magnetic but paper.)
Sadly, this quotation was removed from later editions of the handbook
after the suits took over and DEC became much more
The history above is known to many old-time hackers. But there's more:
Peter Samson, compiler of the original TMRC lexicon, reports
that he named `DDT' after a similar tool on the TX-0 computer, the
direct ancestor of the PDP-1 built at MIT's Lincoln Lab in 1957. The
debugger on that ground-breaking machine (the first transistorized
computer) rejoiced in the name FLIT (FLexowriter Interrogation Tape).
Node:de-rezz, Next:dead, Previous:DDT, Up:= D =
[from `de-resolve' via the movie "Tron"] (also `derez') 1. vi. To
disappear or dissolve; the image that goes with it is of an object
breaking up into raster lines and static and then dissolving.
Occasionally used of a person who seems to have suddenly `fuzzed out'
mentally rather than physically. Usage: extremely silly, also rare.
This verb was actually invented as fictional hacker jargon, and
adopted in a spirit of irony by real hackers years after the fact. 2.
vt. The Macintosh resource decompiler. On a Macintosh, many program
structures (including the code itself) are managed in small segments
of the program file known as `resources'; `Rez' and `DeRez' are a pair
of utilities for compiling and decompiling resource files. Thus,
decompiling a resource is `derezzing'. Usage: very common.
Node:dead, Next:dead beef attack, Previous:de-rezz,
Up:= D =
1. Non-functional; down; crashed. Especially used of
hardware. 2. At XEROX PARC, software that is working but not
undergoing continued development and support. 3. Useless;
inaccessible. Antonym: `live'. Compare dead code.
Node:dead beef attack, Next:dead code, Previous:dead,
Up:= D =
dead beef attack n.
[cypherpunks list, 1996] An attack on a public-key cryptosystem
consisting of publishing a key having the same ID as another key (thus
making it possible to spoof a user's identity if recipients aren't
careful about verifying keys). In PGP and GPG the key ID is the last
eight hex digits of (for RSA keys) the product of two primes. The
attack was demonstrated by creating a key whose ID was 0xdeadbeef (see
Node:dead code, Next:dead link, Previous:dead beef attack,
Up:= D =
dead code n.
Routines that can never be accessed because all calls to them have
been removed, or code that cannot be reached because it is guarded by
a control structure that provably must always transfer control
somewhere else. The presence of dead code may reveal either logical
errors due to alterations in the program or significant changes in the
assumptions and environment of the program (see also software
rot); a good compiler should report dead code so a maintainer can
think about what it means. (Sometimes it simply means that an
extremely defensive programmer has inserted can't happen tests
which really can't happen -- yet.) Syn. grunge. See also
dead, and The Story of Mel.
Node:dead link, Next:DEADBEEF, Previous:dead code,
Up:= D =
dead link n.
[very common] A World-Wide-Web URL that no longer points to the
information it was written to reach. Usually this happens because the
document has been moved or deleted. Lots of dead links make a WWW page
frustrating and useless and are the #1 sign of poor page maintainance.
Compare dangling pointer, link rot.
Node:DEADBEEF, Next:deadlock, Previous:dead link,
Up:= D =
DEADBEEF /ded-beef/ n.
The hexadecimal word-fill pattern for freshly allocated memory
(decimal -21524111) under a number of IBM environments, including the
RS/6000. Some modern debugging tools deliberately fill freed memory
with this value as a way of converting heisenbugs into
Bohr bugs. As in "Your program is DEADBEEF" (meaning gone,
aborted, flushed from memory); if you start from an odd half-word
boundary, of course, you have BEEFDEAD. See also the anecdote under
fool and dead beef attack.
Node:deadlock, Next:deadly embrace, Previous:DEADBEEF,
Up:= D =
1. [techspeak] A situation wherein two or more processes are unable to
proceed because each is waiting for one of the others to do something.
A common example is a program communicating to a server, which may
find itself waiting for output from the server before sending anything
more to it, while the server is similarly waiting for more input from
the controlling program before outputting anything. (It is reported
that this particular flavor of deadlock is sometimes called a
`starvation deadlock', though the term `starvation' is more properly
used for situations where a program can never run simply because it
never gets high enough priority. Another common flavor is
`constipation', in which each process is trying to send stuff to the
other but all buffers are full because nobody is reading anything.)
See deadly embrace. 2. Also used of deadlock-like interactions
between humans, as when two people meet in a narrow corridor, and each
tries to be polite by moving aside to let the other pass, but they end
up swaying from side to side without making any progress because they
always move the same way at the same time.
Node:deadly embrace, Next:death code, Previous:deadlock,
Up:= D =
deadly embrace n.
Same as deadlock, though usually used only when exactly two
processes are involved. This is the more popular term in Europe, while
deadlock predominates in the United States.
Node:death code, Next:Death Square, Previous:deadly
embrace, Up:= D =
death code n.
A routine whose job is to set everything in the computer -- registers,
memory, flags, everything -- to zero, including that portion of memory
where it is running; its last act is to stomp on its own "store zero"
instruction. Death code isn't very useful, but writing it is an
interesting hacking challenge on architectures where the instruction
set makes it possible, such as the PDP-8 (it has also been done on the
Perhaps the ultimate death code is on the TI 990 series, where all
registers are actually in RAM, and the instruction "store immediate 0"
has the opcode "0". The PC will immediately wrap around core as many
times as it can until a user hits HALT. Any empty memory location is
death code. Worse, the manufacturer recommended use of this
instruction in startup code (which would be in ROM and therefore
Node:Death Square, Next:Death Star, Previous:death code,
Up:= D =
Death Square n.
The corporate logo of Novell, the people who acquired USL after AT&T
let go of it (Novell eventually sold the Unix group to SCO). Coined by
analogy with Death Star, because many people believed Novell was
bungling the lead in Unix systems exactly as AT&T did for many years.
Node:Death Star, Next:DEC, Previous:Death Square,
Up:= D =
Death Star n.
[from the movie "Star Wars"] 1. The AT&T corporate logo, which appears
on computers sold by AT&T and bears an uncanny resemblance to the
Death Star in the movie. This usage is particularly common among
partisans of BSD Unix, who tend to regard the AT&T versions as
inferior and AT&T as a bad guy. Copies still circulate of a poster
printed by Mt. Xinu showing a starscape with a space fighter labeled
4.2 BSD streaking away from a broken AT&T logo wreathed in flames. 2.
AT&T's internal magazine, "Focus", uses `death star' to describe an
incorrectly done AT&T logo in which the inner circle in the top left
is dark instead of light -- a frequent result of dark-on-light logo
Node:DEC, Next:DEC Wars, Previous:Death Star, Up:= D
DEC /dek/ n.
1. v. Verbal (and only rarely written) shorthand for decrement, i.e.
`decrease by one'. Especially used by assembly programmers, as many
assembly languages have a dec mnemonic. Antonym: inc. 2. n.
Commonly used abbreviation for Digital Equipment Corporation, later
deprecated by DEC itself in favor of "Digital" and now entirely
obsolete following the buyout by Compaq. Before the killer micro
revolution of the late 1980s, hackerdom was closely symbiotic with
DEC's pioneering timesharing machines. The first of the group of
cultures described by this lexicon nucleated around the PDP-1 (see
TMRC). Subsequently, the PDP-6, PDP-10, PDP-20,
PDP-11 and VAX were all foci of large and important hackerdoms,
and DEC machines long dominated the ARPANET and Internet machine
population. DEC was the technological leader of the minicomputer era
(roughly 1967 to 1987), but its failure to embrace microcomputers and
Unix early cost it heavily in profits and prestige after silicon
got cheap. Nevertheless, the microprocessor design tradition owes a
major debt to the PDP-11 instruction set, and every one of the major
general-purpose microcomputer OSs so far (CP/M, MS-DOS, Unix, OS/2,
Windows NT) was either genetically descended from a DEC OS, or
incubated on DEC hardware, or both. Accordingly, DEC was for many
years still regarded with a certain wry affection even among many
hackers too young to have grown up on DEC machines.
DEC reclaimed some of its old reputation among techies in the first
half of the 1990s. The success of the Alpha, an innovatively-designed
and very high-performance killer micro, helped a lot. So did
DEC's newfound receptiveness to Unix and open systems in general. When
Compaq acquired DEC at the end of 1998 there was some concern that
these gains would be lost along with the DEC nameplate, but the merged
company has so far turned out to be culturally dominated by the ex-DEC
Node:DEC Wars, Next:decay, Previous:DEC, Up:= D =
DEC Wars n.
A 1983 Usenet posting by Alan Hastings and Steve Tarr spoofing
the "Star Wars" movies in hackish terms. Some years later, ESR
(disappointed by Hastings and Tarr's failure to exploit a great
premise more thoroughly) posted a 3-times-longer complete rewrite
called Unix WARS; the two are often confused.
Node:decay, Next:deckle, Previous:DEC Wars, Up:= D =
[from nuclear physics] An automatic conversion which is applied to
most array-valued expressions in C; they `decay into'
pointer-valued expressions pointing to the array's first element. This
term is borderline techspeak, but is not used in the official standard
for the language.
Node:deckle, Next:DED, Previous:decay, Up:= D =
deckle /dek'l/ n.
[from dec- and nybble; the original spelling seems to have been
`decle'] Two nickles; 10 bits. Reported among developers for
Mattel's GI 1600 (the Intellivision games processor), a chip with
16-bit-wide RAM but 10-bit-wide ROM. See nybble for other such
Node:DED, Next:deep hack mode, Previous:deckle, Up:=
DED /D-E-D/ n.
Dark-Emitting Diode (that is, a burned-out LED). Compare SED,
LER, write-only memory. In the early 1970s both Signetics
and Texas instruments released DED spec sheets as AFJs
(suggested uses included "as a power-off indicator").
Node:deep hack mode, Next:deep magic, Previous:DED,
Up:= D =
deep hack mode n.
See hack mode.
Node:deep magic, Next:deep space, Previous:deep hack mode,
Up:= D =
deep magic n.
[poss. from C. S. Lewis's "Narnia" books] An awesomely arcane
technique central to a program or system, esp. one neither generally
published nor available to hackers at large (compare black art);
one that could only have been composed by a true wizard.
Compiler optimization techniques and many aspects of OS design
used to be deep magic; many techniques in cryptography, signal
processing, graphics, and AI still are. Compare heavy wizardry.
Esp. found in comments of the form "Deep magic begins here...".
Compare voodoo programming.
Node:deep space, Next:defenestration, Previous:deep magic,
Up:= D =
deep space n.
1. Describes the notional location of any program that has gone
off the trolley. Esp. used of programs that just sit there
silently grinding long after either failure or some output is
expected. "Uh oh. I should have gotten a prompt ten seconds ago. The
program's in deep space somewhere." Compare buzz,
catatonic, hyperspace. 2. The metaphorical location of a
human so dazed and/or confused or caught up in some esoteric form of
bogosity that he or she no longer responds coherently to normal
communication. Compare page out.
Node:defenestration, Next:defined as, Previous:deep space,
Up:= D =
[mythically from a traditional Czech assasination method, via SF
fandom] 1. Proper karmic retribution for an incorrigible punster. "Oh,
ghod, that was awful!" "Quick! Defenestrate him!" 2. The act of
exiting a window system in order to get better response time from a
full-screen program. This comes from the dictionary meaning of
`defenestrate', which is to throw something out a window. 3. The act
of discarding something under the assumption that it will improve
matters. "I don't have any disk space left." "Well, why don't you
defenestrate that 100 megs worth of old core dumps?" 4. Under a GUI,
the act of dragging something out of a window (onto the screen).
"Next, defenestrate the MugWump icon." 5. The act of completely
removing Micro$oft Windows from a PC in favor of a better OS
Node:defined as, Next:dehose, Previous:defenestration,
Up:= D =
defined as adj.
In the role of, usually in an organization-chart sense. "Pete is
currently defined as bug prioritizer." Compare logical.
Node:dehose, Next:deletia, Previous:defined as, Up:=
dehose /dee-hohz/ vt.
To clear a hosed condition.
Node:deletia, Next:deliminator, Previous:dehose,
Up:= D =
deletia n. /d*-lee'sha/
[USENET; common] In an email reply, material omitted from the quote of
the original. Usually written rather than spoken; often appears as a
pseudo-tag or ellipsis in the body of the reply, as "[deletia]" or
Node:deliminator, Next:delint, Previous:deletia,
Up:= D =
deliminator /de-lim'-in-ay-t*r/ n.
[portmanteau, delimiter + eliminate] A string or pattern used to
delimit text into fields, but which is itself eliminated from the
resulting list of fields. This jargon seems to have originated among
Perl hackers in connection with the Perl split() function; however, it
has been sighted in live use among Java and even Visual Basic
Node:delint, Next:delta, Previous:deliminator, Up:=
delint /dee-lint/ v. obs.
To modify code to remove problems detected when linting.
Confusingly, this process is also referred to as `linting' code. This
term is no longer in general use because ANSI C compilers typically
issue compile-time warnings almost as detailed as lint warnings.
Node:delta, Next:demented, Previous:delint, Up:= D =
1. [techspeak] A quantitative change, especially a small or
incremental one (this use is general in physics and engineering). "I
just doubled the speed of my program!" "What was the delta on program
size?" "About 30 percent." (He doubled the speed of his program, but
increased its size by only 30 percent.) 2. [Unix] A diff,
especially a diff stored under the set of version-control tools
called SCCS (Source Code Control System) or RCS (Revision Control
System). 3. n. A small quantity, but not as small as epsilon.
The jargon usage of delta and epsilon stems from the
traditional use of these letters in mathematics for very small
numerical quantities, particularly in `epsilon-delta' proofs in limit
theory (as in the differential calculus). The term delta is
often used, once epsilon has been mentioned, to mean a quantity
that is slightly bigger than epsilon but still very small. "The
cost isn't epsilon, but it's delta" means that the cost isn't totally
negligible, but it is nevertheless very small. Common constructions
include `within delta of --', `within epsilon of --': that is, `close
to' and `even closer to'.
Node:demented, Next:demigod, Previous:delta, Up:= D
Yet another term of disgust used to describe a malfunctioning program.
The connotation in this case is that the program works as designed,
but the design is bad. Said, for example, of a program that generates
large numbers of meaningless error messages, implying that it is on
the brink of imminent collapse. Compare wonky,
Node:demigod, Next:demo, Previous:demented, Up:= D =
A hacker with years of experience, a world-wide reputation, and a
major role in the development of at least one design, tool, or game
used by or known to more than half of the hacker community. To qualify
as a genuine demigod, the person must recognizably identify with the
hacker community and have helped shape it. Major demigods include Ken
Thompson and Dennis Ritchie (co-inventors of Unix and C),
Richard M. Stallman (inventor of EMACS), Larry Wall (inventor of
Perl), Linus Torvalds (inventor of Linux), and most
recently James Gosling (inventor of Java, NeWS, and
GOSMACS) and Guido van Rossum (inventor of Python). In
their hearts of hearts, most hackers dream of someday becoming
demigods themselves, and more than one major software project has been
driven to completion by the author's veiled hopes of apotheosis. See
also net.god, true-hacker.
Node:demo, Next:demo mode, Previous:demigod, Up:= D
[short for `demonstration'] 1. v. To demonstrate a product or
prototype. A far more effective way of inducing bugs to manifest than
any number of test runs, especially when important people are
watching. 2. n. The act of demoing. "I've gotta give a demo of the
drool-proof interface; how does it work again?" 3. n. Esp. as `demo
version', can refer either to an early, barely-functional version of a
program which can be used for demonstration purposes as long as the
operator uses exactly the right commands and skirts its numerous bugs,
deficiencies, and unimplemented portions, or to a special version of a
program (frequently with some features crippled) which is distributed
at little or no cost to the user for enticement purposes. 4.
[demoscene] A sequence of demoeffects (usually) combined
with self-composed music and hand-drawn ("pixelated") graphics. These
days (1997) usually built to attend a compo. Often called
`eurodemos' outside Europe, as most of the demoscene activity
seems to have gathered in northern Europe and especially Scandinavia.
See also intro, dentro.
Node:demo mode, Next:demoeffect, Previous:demo, Up:=
demo mode n.
1. [Sun] The state of being heads down in order to finish code
in time for a demo, usually due yesterday. 2. A mode in which
video games sit by themselves running through a portion of the game,
also known as `attract mode'. Some serious apps have a demo mode
they use as a screen saver, or may go through a demo mode on startup
(for example, the Microsoft Windows opening screen -- which lets you
impress your neighbors without actually having to put up with
Node:demoeffect, Next:demogroup, Previous:demo mode,
Up:= D =
[demoscene] What among hackers is called a display hack.
Classical effects include "plasma" (colorful mess), "keftales"
(x*x+y*y and other similar patterns, usually combined with
color-cycling), realtime fractals, realtime 3d graphics, etc.
Historically, demo effects have cheated as much as possible to gain
more speed and more complexity, using low-precision math and masses of
assembler code and building animation realtime are three common
tricks, but use of special hardware to fake effects is a Good
Thing on the demoscene (though this is becoming less common as
platforms like the Amiga fade away).
Node:demogroup, Next:demon, Previous:demoeffect,
Up:= D =
[demoscene] A group of demo (sense 4) composers. Job
titles within a group include coders (the ones who write programs),
graphicians (the ones who painstakingly pixelate the fine art),
musicians (the music composers), sysops, traders/swappers (the
ones who do the trading and other PR), and organizers (in larger
groups). It is not uncommon for one person to do multiple jobs, but it
has been observed that good coders are rarely good composers and vice
versa. [How odd. Musical talent seems common among Internet/Unix
Node:demon, Next:demon dialer, Previous:demogroup,
Up:= D =
1. [MIT] A portion of a program that is not invoked explicitly, but
that lies dormant waiting for some condition(s) to occur. See
daemon. The distinction is that demons are usually processes
within a program, while daemons are usually programs running on an
operating system. 2. [outside MIT] Often used equivalently to
daemon -- especially in the Unix world, where the latter
spelling and pronunciation is considered mildly archaic.
Demons in sense 1 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.
Node:demon dialer, Next:demoparty, Previous:demon,
Up:= D =
demon dialer n.
A program which repeatedly calls the same telephone number. Demon
dialing may be benign (as when a number of communications programs
contend for legitimate access to a BBS line) or malign (that is,
used as a prank or denial-of-service attack). This term dates from the
blue box days of the 1970s and early 1980s and is now
semi-obsolescent among phreakers; see war dialer for its
Node:demoparty, Next:demoscene, Previous:demon dialer,
Up:= D =
[demoscene] Aboveground descendant of the copyparty, with
emphasis shifted away from software piracy and towards compos.
Smaller demoparties, for 100 persons or less, are held quite often,
sometimes even once a month, and usually last for one to two days. On
the other end of the scale, huge demo parties are held once a year
(and four of these have grown very large and occur annually - Assembly
in Finland, The Party in Denmark, The Gathering in Norway, and NAID
somewhere in north America). These parties usually last for three to
five days, have room for 3000-5000 people, and have a party network
with connection to the internet.
Node:demoscene, Next:dentro, Previous:demoparty,
Up:= D =
[also `demo scene'] A culture of multimedia hackers located primarily
in Scandinavia and northern Europe. Demoscene folklore recounts that
when old-time warez d00dz cracked some piece of software they
often added an advertisement of in the beginning, usually containing
colorful display hacks with greetings to other cracking groups.
The demoscene was born among people who decided building these display
hacks is more interesting than hacking and began to build
self-contained display hacks of considerable elaboration and beauty
(within the culture such a hack is called a demo). The split
seems to have happened at the end of the 1980s. As more of these
demogroups emerged, they started to have compos at copying
parties (see copyparty), which later evolved to standalone
events (see demoparty). The demoscene has retained some traits
from the warez d00dz, including their style of handles and group
names and some of their jargon.
Traditionally demos were written in assembly language, with lots of
smart tricks, self-modifying code, undocumented op-codes and the like.
Some time around 1995, people started coding demos in C, and a couple
of years after that, they also started using Java.
Ten years on (in 1998-1999), the demoscene is changing as its original
platforms (C64, Amiga, Spectrum, Atari ST, IBM PC under DOS) die out
and activity shifts towards Windows, Linux, and the Internet. While
deeply underground in the past, demoscene is trying to get into the
mainstream as accepted art form, and one symptom of this is the
commercialization of bigger demoparties. Older demosceneers frown at
this, but the majority think it's a good direction. Many demosceneers
end up working in the computer game industry. Demoscene resource pages
are available at http://www.oldskool.org/demos/explained/ and
Node:dentro, Next:depeditate, Previous:demoscene,
Up:= D =
[demoscene] Combination of demo (sense 4) and intro.
Other name mixings include intmo, dentmo etc. and are used usually
when the authors are not quite sure whether the program is a
demo or an intro. Special-purpose coinages like wedtro
(some member of a group got married), invtro (invitation intro) etc.
have also been sighted.
Node:depeditate, Next:deprecated, Previous:dentro,
Up:= D =
depeditate /dee-ped'*-tayt/ n.
[by (faulty) analogy with `decapitate'] Humorously, to cut off the
feet of. When one is using some computer-aided typesetting tools,
careless placement of text blocks within a page or above a rule can
result in chopped-off letter descenders. Such letters are said to have
Node:deprecated, Next:derf, Previous:depeditate,
Up:= D =
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. This term appears with distressing frequency in standards
documents when the committees writing the documents realize that large
amounts of extant (and presumably happily working) code depend on the
feature(s) that have passed out of favor. See also dusty deck.
[Usage note: don't confuse this word with `depreciate', or the verb
form `deprecate' with `depreciated`. They are different words; see any
dictionary for discussion.]
Node:derf, Next:deserves to lose, Previous:deprecated,
Up:= D =
derf /derf/ v.,n.
[PLATO] The act of exploiting a terminal which someone else has
absentmindedly left logged on, to use that person's account,
especially to post articles intended to make an ass of the victim
you're impersonating. It has been alleged that the term originated as
a reversal of the name of the gentleman who most usually left himself
vulnerable to it, who also happened to be the head of the department
that handled PLATO at the University of Delaware.
Node:deserves to lose, Next:desk check, Previous:derf,
Up:= D =
deserves to lose adj.
[common] Said of someone who willfully does the Wrong Thing;
humorously, if one uses a feature known to be marginal. What is
meant is that one deserves the consequences of one's losing
actions. "Boy, anyone who tries to use mess-dos deserves to
lose!" (ITS fans used to say the same thing of Unix;
many still do.) See also screw, chomp, bagbiter.
Node:desk check, Next:despew, Previous:deserves to lose,
Up:= D =
desk check n.,v.
To grovel over hardcopy of source code, mentally simulating the
control flow; a method of catching bugs. No longer common practice in
this age of on-screen editing, fast compiles, and sophisticated
debuggers -- though some maintain stoutly that it ought to be. Compare
eyeball search, vdiff, vgrep.
Node:despew, Next:Devil Book, Previous:desk check,
Up:= D =
despew /d*-spyoo'/ v.
[Usenet] To automatically generate a large amount of garbage to the
net, esp. from an automated posting program gone wild. See ARMM.
Node:Devil Book, Next:/dev/null, Previous:despew,
Up:= D =
Devil Book n.
See daemon book, the term preferred by its authors.
Node:/dev/null, Next:dickless workstation, Previous:Devil
Book, Up:= D =
/dev/null /dev-nuhl/ n.
[from the Unix null device, used as a data sink] A notional `black
hole' in any information space being discussed, used, or referred to.
A controversial posting, for example, might end "Kudos to
firstname.lastname@example.org, flames to /dev/null". See bit bucket.
Node:dickless workstation, Next:dictionary flame,
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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; typically, they cannot even boot
themselves without help (in the form of some kind of
breath-of-life packet) from the server.
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workstation, Up:= D =
dictionary flame n.
[Usenet] An attempt to sidetrack a debate away from issues by
insisting on meanings for key terms that presuppose a desired
conclusion or smuggle in an implicit premise. A common tactic of
people who prefer argument over definitions to disputes about reality.
Compare spelling flame.
Node:diddle, Next:die, Previous:dictionary flame,
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1. vt. To work with or modify in a not particularly serious manner. "I
diddled a copy of ADVENT so it didn't double-space all the
time." "Let's diddle this piece of code and see if the problem goes
away." See tweak and twiddle. 2. n. The action or result
of diddling. See also tweak, twiddle, frob.
Node:die, Next:die horribly, Previous:diddle, Up:= D
Syn. crash. Unlike crash, which is used primarily of
hardware, this verb is used of both hardware and software. See also
go flatline, casters-up mode.
Node:die horribly, Next:diff, Previous:die, Up:= D =
die horribly v.
The software equivalent of crash and burn, and the preferred
emphatic form of die. "The converter choked on an FF in its
input and died horribly".
Node:diff, Next:digit, Previous:die horribly, Up:= D
diff /dif/ n.
1. A change listing, especially giving differences between (and
additions to) source code or documents (the term is often used in the
plural `diffs'). "Send me your diffs for the Jargon File!" Compare
vdiff. 2. Specifically, such a listing produced by the diff(1)
command, esp. when used as specification input to the patch(1) utility
(which can actually perform the modifications; see patch). This
is a common method of distributing patches and source updates in the
Unix/C world. 3. v. To compare (whether or not by use of automated
tools on machine-readable files); see also vdiff, mod.
Node:digit, Next:dike, Previous:diff, Up:= D =
An employee of Digital Equipment Corporation. See also VAX,
VMS, PDP-10, TOPS-10, field circus.
Node:dike, Next:Dilbert, Previous:digit, Up:= D =
To remove or disable a portion of something, as a wire from a computer
or a subroutine from a program. A standard slogan is "When in doubt,
dike it out". (The implication is that it is usually more effective to
attack software problems by reducing complexity than by increasing
it.) The word `dikes' is widely used among mechanics and engineers to
mean `diagonal cutters', esp. the heavy-duty metal-cutting version,
but may also refer to a kind of wire-cutters used by electronics
techs. To `dike something out' means to use such cutters to remove
something. Indeed, the TMRC Dictionary defined dike as "to attack with
dikes". Among hackers this term has been metaphorically extended to
informational objects such as sections of code.
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n. Name and title character of a comic strip nationally syndicated in
the U.S. and enormously popular among hackers. Dilbert is an
archetypical engineer-nerd who works at an anonymous high-technology
company; the strips present a lacerating satire of insane working
conditions and idiotic management practices all too readily
recognized by hackers. Adams, who spent nine years in cube
4S700R at Pacific Bell (not DEC as often reported), often
remarks that he has never been able to come up with a fictional
management blunder that his correspondents didn't quickly either
report to have actually happened or top with a similar but even more
bizarre incident. In 1996 Adams distilled his insights into the
collective psychology of businesses into an even funnier book, "The
Dilbert Principle" (HarperCollins, ISBN 0-887-30787-6). See also
pointy-haired, rat dance.
Node:ding, Next:dink, Previous:Dilbert, Up:= D =
1. Synonym for feep. Usage: rare among hackers, but more common
in the Real World. 2. `dinged': What happens when someone in
authority gives you a minor bitching about something, esp. something
trivial. "I was dinged for having a messy desk."
Node:dink, Next:dinosaur, Previous:ding, Up:= D =
dink /dink/ adj.
Said of a machine that has the bitty box nature; a machine too
small to be worth bothering with -- sometimes the system you're
currently forced to work on. First heard from an MIT hacker working on
a CP/M system with 64K, in reference to any 6502 system, then from
fans of 32-bit architectures about 16-bit machines. "GNUMACS will
never work on that dink machine." Probably derived from mainstream
`dinky', which isn't sufficiently pejorative. See macdink.
Node:dinosaur, Next:dinosaur pen, Previous:dink,
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1. Any hardware requiring raised flooring and special power. Used
especially of old minis and mainframes, in contrast with newer
microprocessor-based machines. In a famous quote from the 1988 Unix
EXPO, Bill Joy compared the liquid-cooled mainframe in the massive IBM
display with a grazing dinosaur "with a truck outside pumping its
bodily fluids through it". IBM was not amused. Compare big iron;
see also mainframe. 2. [IBM] A very conservative user; a
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dinosaur pen n.
A traditional mainframe computer room complete with raised
flooring, special power, its own ultra-heavy-duty air conditioning,
and a side order of Halon fire extinguishers. See boa.
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pen, Up:= D =
dinosaurs mating n.
Said to occur when yet another big iron merger or buyout occurs;
reflects a perception by hackers that these signal another stage in
the long, slow dying of the mainframe industry. In its glory
days of the 1960s, it was `IBM and the Seven Dwarves': Burroughs,
Control Data, General Electric, Honeywell, NCR, RCA, and Univac. RCA
and GE sold out early, and it was `IBM and the Bunch' (Burroughs,
Univac, NCR, Control Data, and Honeywell) for a while. Honeywell was
bought out by Bull; Burroughs merged with Univac to form Unisys (in
1984 -- this was when the phrase `dinosaurs mating' was coined); and
in 1991 AT&T absorbed NCR (but spat it back out a few years later).
Control Data still exists but is no longer in the mainframe business.
More such earth-shaking unions of doomed giants seem inevitable.
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mating, Up:= D =
[XEROX PARC] A small, perhaps struggling outsider; not in the major or
even the minor leagues. For example, "Xerox is not a dirtball
[Outsiders often observe in the PARC culture an institutional
arrogance which usage of this term exemplifies. The brilliance and
scope of PARC's contributions to computer science have been such that
this superior attitude is not much resented. --ESR]
Node:dirty power, Next:disclaimer, Previous:dirtball,
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dirty power n.
Electrical mains voltage that is unfriendly to the delicate innards of
computers. Spikes, drop-outs, average voltage significantly
higher or lower than nominal, or just plain noise can all cause
problems of varying subtlety and severity (these are collectively
known as power hits).
Node:disclaimer, Next:Discordianism, Previous:dirty power,
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[Usenet] Statement ritually appended to many Usenet postings
(sometimes automatically, by the posting software) reiterating the
fact (which should be obvious, but is easily forgotten) that the
article reflects its author's opinions and not necessarily those of
the organization running the machine through which the article entered
Node:Discordianism, Next:disk farm, Previous:disclaimer,
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Discordianism /dis-kor'di-*n-ism/ n.
The veneration of Eris, a.k.a. Discordia; widely popular among
hackers. Discordianism was popularized by Robert Shea and Robert Anton
Wilson's novel "Illuminatus!" 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. Consider, for example, the Fifth
Commandment of the Pentabarf, from "Principia Discordia": "A
Discordian is Prohibited of Believing What he Reads." Discordianism is
usually connected with an elaborate conspiracy theory/joke involving
millennia-long warfare between the anarcho-surrealist partisans of
Eris and a malevolent, authoritarian secret society called the
Illuminati. See Religion in Appendix B, Church of the
SubGenius, and ha ha only serious.
Node:disk farm, Next:display hack, Previous:Discordianism,
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disk farm n.
(also laundromat) A large room or rooms filled with disk drives
(esp. washing machines).
Node:display hack, Next:dispress, Previous:disk farm,
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display hack n.
A program with the same approximate purpose as a kaleidoscope: to make
pretty pictures. Famous display hacks include munching squares,
smoking clover, the BSD Unix rain(6) program, worms(6) on
miscellaneous Unixes, and the X kaleid(1) program. Display hacks
can also be implemented by creating text files containing numerous
escape sequences for interpretation by a video terminal; one notable
example displayed, on any VT100, a Christmas tree with twinkling
lights and a toy train circling its base. The hack value of a
display hack is proportional to the esthetic value of the images times
the cleverness of the algorithm divided by the size of the code. Syn.
Node:dispress, Next:Dissociated Press, Previous:display
hack, Up:= D =
[contraction of `Dissociated Press' due to eight-character MS-DOS
filenames] To apply the Dissociated Press algorithm to a block
of text. The resultant output is also referred to as a 'dispression'.
Node:Dissociated Press, Next:distribution,
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Dissociated Press n.
[play on `Associated Press'; perhaps inspired by a reference in the
1950 Bugs Bunny cartoon "What's Up, Doc?"] An algorithm for
transforming any text into potentially humorous garbage even more
efficiently than by passing it through a marketroid. The
algorithm starts by printing any N consecutive words (or letters) in
the text. Then at every step it searches for any random occurrence in
the original text of the last N words (or letters) already printed and
then prints the next word or letter. EMACS has a handy command
for this. Here is a short example of word-based Dissociated Press
applied to an earlier version of this Jargon File:
wart: n. A small, crocky feature that sticks out of an array
(C has no checks for this). This is relatively benign and easy to
spot if the phrase is bent so as to be not worth paying attention
to the medium in question.
Here is a short example of letter-based Dissociated Press applied to
the same source:
window sysIWYG: n. A bit was named aften /bee't*/ prefer to use the
other guy's re, especially in every cast a chuckle on neithout
getting into useful informash speech makes removing a featuring a
move or usage actual abstractionsidered interj. Indeed spectace
logic or problem!
A hackish idle pastime is to apply letter-based Dissociated Press to a
random body of text and vgrep the output in hopes of finding an
interesting new word. (In the preceding example, `window sysIWYG' and
`informash' show some promise.) Iterated applications of Dissociated
Press usually yield better results. Similar techniques called
`travesty generators' have been employed with considerable satirical
effect to the utterances of Usenet flamers; see pseudo.
Node:distribution, Next:distro, Previous:Dissociated
Press, Up:= D =
1. A software source tree packaged for distribution; but see
kit. Since about 1996 unqualified use of this term often implies
`Linux distribution'. The short for distro is often used
for this sense. 2. A vague term encompassing mailing lists and Usenet
newsgroups (but not BBS fora); any topic-oriented message
channel with multiple recipients. 3. An information-space domain
(usually loosely correlated with geography) to which propagation of a
Usenet message is restricted; a much-underutilized feature.
Node:distro, Next:disusered, Previous:distribution,
Up:= D =
Synonym for distribution, sense 1.
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[Usenet] Said of a person whose account on a computer has been
removed, esp. for cause rather than through normal attrition. "He got
disusered when they found out he'd been cracking through the school's
Internet access." The verbal form `disuser' is live but less common.
Both usages probably derive from the DISUSER account status flag on
VMS; setting it disables the account. Compare star out.
Node:do protocol, Next:doc, Previous:disusered, Up:=
do protocol vi.
[from network protocol programming] To perform an interaction with
somebody or something that follows a clearly defined procedure. For
example, "Let's do protocol with the check" at a restaurant means to
ask for the check, calculate the tip and everybody's share, collect
money from everybody, generate change as necessary, and pay the bill.
Node:doc, Next:documentation, Previous:do protocol,
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doc /dok/ n.
Common spoken and written shorthand for `documentation'. Often used in
the plural `docs' and in the construction `doc file' (i.e.,
documentation available on-line).
Node:documentation, Next:dodgy, Previous:doc, Up:= D
The multiple kilograms of macerated, pounded, steamed, bleached, and
pressed trees that accompany most modern software or hardware products