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The New Hacker's Dictionary version 4.2.2 by Various editors

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What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

(see also [4090]tree-killer). Hackers seldom read paper documentation
and (too) often resist writing it; they prefer theirs to be terse and
on-line. A common comment on this predilection is "You can't
[4091]grep dead trees". See [4092]drool-proof paper, [4093]verbiage,

Node:dodgy, Next:[4095]dogcow, Previous:[4096]documentation,
Up:[4097]= D =

dodgy adj.

Syn. with [4098]flaky. Preferred outside the U.S.

Node:dogcow, Next:[4099]dogfood, Previous:[4100]dodgy, Up:[4101]= D =

dogcow /dog'kow/ n.

See [4102]Moof. The dogcow is a semi-legendary creature that lurks in
the depths of the Macintosh Technical Notes Hypercard stack V3.1. The
full story of the dogcow is told in technical note #31 (the particular
dogcow illustrated is properly named `Clarus'). Option-shift-click
will cause it to emit a characteristic `Moof!' or `!fooM' sound.
Getting to tech note 31 is the hard part; to discover how to do that,
one must needs examine the stack script with a hackerly eye. Clue:
[4103]rot13 is involved. A dogcow also appears if you choose `Page
Setup...' with a LaserWriter selected and click on the `Options'
button. It also lurks in other Mac printer drivers, notably those for
the now-discontinued Style Writers. Sadly, Apple has removed the pages
that used to describe the dogcow.

Node:dogfood, Next:[4104]dogpile, Previous:[4105]dogcow, Up:[4106]= D

dogfood n.

[Microsoft, Netscape] Interim software used internally for testing.
"To eat one's own dogfood" (from which the slang noun derives) means
to use the software one is developing, as part of one's everyday
development environment (the phrase is used outside Microsoft and
Netscape). The practice is normal in the Linux community and
elsewhere, but the term `dogfood' is seldom used as open-source betas
tend to be quite tasty and nourishing. The idea is that developers who
are using their own software will quickly learn what's missing or
broken. Dogfood is typically not even of [4107]beta quality.

Node:dogpile, Next:[4108]dogwash, Previous:[4109]dogfood, Up:[4110]= D

dogpile v.

[Usenet: prob. fr. mainstream "puppy pile"] When many people post
unfriendly responses in short order to a single posting, they are
sometimes said to "dogpile" or "dogpile on" the person to whom they're
responding. For example, when a religious missionary posts a
simplistic appeal to alt.atheism, he can expect to be dogpiled. It has
been suggested that this derives from U.S, football slang for a tackle
involving three or more people; among hackers, it seems at least as
likely do derive from an `autobiographical' Bugs Bunny cartoon in
which a gang of attacking canines actually yells "Dogpile on the

Node:dogwash, Next:[4111]domainist, Previous:[4112]dogpile, Up:[4113]=
D =

dogwash /dog'wosh/

[From a quip in the `urgency' field of a very optional software change
request, ca. 1982. It was something like "Urgency: Wash your dog
first".] 1. n. A project of minimal priority, undertaken as an escape
from more serious work. 2. v. To engage in such a project. Many games
and much [4114]freeware get written this way.

Node:domainist, Next:[4115]Don't do that then!,
Previous:[4116]dogwash, Up:[4117]= D =

domainist /doh-mayn'ist/ adj.

1. [Usenet, by pointed analogy with "sexist", "racist", etc.] Someone
who judges people by the domain of their email addresses; esp. someone
who dismisses anyone who posts from a public internet provider. "What
do you expect from an article posted from aol.com?" 2. Said of an
[4118]Internet address (as opposed to a [4119]bang path) because the
part to the right of the @ specifies a nested series of `domains'; for
example, [4120]esr@snark.thyrsus.com specifies the machine called
snark in the subdomain called thyrsus within the top-level domain
called com. See also [4121]big-endian, sense 2.

The meaning of this term has drifted. At one time sense 2 was primary.
In elder days it was also used of a site, mailer, or routing program
which knew how to handle domainist addresses; or of a person (esp. a
site admin) who preferred domain addressing, supported a domainist
mailer, or proselytized for domainist addressing and disdained
[4122]bang paths. These senses are now (1996) obsolete, as effectively
all sites have converted.

Node:Don't do that then!, Next:[4123]dongle, Previous:[4124]domainist,
Up:[4125]= D =

Don't do that then! imp.

[from an old doctor's office joke about a patient with a trivial
complaint] Stock response to a user complaint. "When I type control-S,
the whole system comes to a halt for thirty seconds." "Don't do that,
then!" (or "So don't do that!"). Compare [4126]RTFM.

Here's a classic example of "Don't do that then!" from Neil
Stephenson's "In The Beginning Was The Command Line". A friend of his
built a network with a load of Macs and a few high-powered database
servers. He found that from time to time the whole network would lock
up for no apparent reason. The problem was eventually tracked down to
MacOS's cooperative multitasking: when a user held down the mouse
button for too long, the network stack wouldn't get a chance to run...

Node:dongle, Next:[4127]dongle-disk, Previous:[4128]Don't do that
then!, Up:[4129]= D =

dongle /dong'gl/ n.

1. [now obs.] A security or [4130]copy protection device for
proprietary software consisting of a serialized EPROM and some drivers
in a D-25 connector shell, which must be connected to an I/O port of
the computer while the program is run. Programs that use a dongle
query the port at startup and at programmed intervals thereafter, and
terminate if it does not respond with the dongle's programmed
validation code. Thus, users can make as many copies of the program as
they want but must pay for each dongle. The idea was clever, but it
was initially a failure, as users disliked tying up a serial port this
way. By 1993, dongles would typically pass data through the port and
monitor for [4131]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. These devices have become rare as the industry has
moved away from copy-protection schemes in general. 2. By extension,
any physical electronic key or transferable ID required for a program
to function. Common variations on this theme have used parallel or
even joystick ports. See [4132]dongle-disk. 3. An adaptor cable mating
a special edge-type connector on a PCMCIA or on-board Ethernet card to
a standard RJ45 Ethernet jack. This usage seems to have surfaced in
1999 and is now dominant. Laptop owners curse these things because
they're notoriously easy to lose and the vendors commonly charge
extortionate prices for replacements.

[Note: in early 1992, advertising copy from Rainbow Technologies (a
manufacturer of dongles) included a claim that the word derived from
"Don Gall", allegedly the inventor of the device. The company's
receptionist will cheerfully tell you that the story is a myth
invented for the ad copy. Nevertheless, I expect it to haunt my life
as a lexicographer for at least the next ten years. :-( --ESR]

Node:dongle-disk, Next:[4133]donuts, Previous:[4134]dongle, Up:[4135]=
D =

dongle-disk /don'gl disk/ n.

A special floppy disk that is required in order to perform some task.
Some contain special coding that allows an application to identify it
uniquely, others are special code that does something that
normally-resident programs don't or can't. (For example, AT&T's "Unix
PC" would only come up in [4136]root mode with a special boot disk.)
Also called a `key disk'. See [4137]dongle.

Node:donuts, Next:[4138]doorstop, Previous:[4139]dongle-disk,
Up:[4140]= D =

donuts n. obs.

A collective noun for any set of memory bits. This usage is extremely
archaic and may no longer be live jargon; it dates from the days of
ferrite-[4141]core memories in which each bit was implemented by a
doughnut-shaped magnetic flip-flop.

Node:doorstop, Next:[4142]DoS attack, Previous:[4143]donuts,
Up:[4144]= D =

doorstop n.

Used to describe equipment that is non-functional and halfway expected
to remain so, especially obsolete equipment kept around for political
reasons or ostensibly as a backup. "When we get another Wyse-50 in
here, that ADM 3 will turn into a doorstop." Compare [4145]boat

Node:DoS attack, Next:[4146]dot file, Previous:[4147]doorstop,
Up:[4148]= D =

DoS attack //

[Usenet,common; note that it's unrelated to `DOS' as name of an
operating system] Abbreviation for Denial-Of-Service attack. This
abbreviation is most often used of attempts to shut down newsgroups
with floods of [4149]spam, or to flood network links with large
amounts of traffic, or to flood network links with large amounts of
traffic, often by abusing network broadcast addresses Compare
[4150]slashdot effect.

Node:dot file, Next:[4151]double bucky, Previous:[4152]DoS attack,
Up:[4153]= D =

dot file [Unix] n.

A file that is not visible by default to normal directory-browsing
tools (on Unix, files named with a leading dot are, by convention, not
normally presented in directory listings). Many programs define one or
more dot files in which startup or configuration information may be
optionally recorded; a user can customize the program's behavior by
creating the appropriate file in the current or home directory.
(Therefore, dot files tend to [4154]creep -- with every nontrivial
application program defining at least one, a user's home directory can
be filled with scores of dot files, of course without the user's
really being aware of it.) See also [4155]profile (sense 1), [4156]rc

Node:double bucky, Next:[4157]doubled sig, Previous:[4158]dot file,
Up:[4159]= D =

double bucky adj.

Using both the CTRL and META keys. "The command to burn all LEDs is
double bucky F."

This term originated on the Stanford extended-ASCII keyboard, and was
later taken up by users of the [4160]space-cadet keyboard at MIT. A
typical MIT comment was that the Stanford [4161]bucky bits (control
and meta shifting keys) were nice, but there weren't enough of them;
you could type only 512 different characters on a Stanford keyboard.
An obvious way to address this was simply to add more shifting keys,
and this was eventually done; but a keyboard with that many shifting
keys is hard on touch-typists, who don't like to move their hands away
from the home position on the keyboard. It was half-seriously
suggested that the extra shifting keys be implemented as pedals;
typing on such a keyboard would be very much like playing a full pipe
organ. This idea is mentioned in a parody of a very fine song by
Jeffrey Moss called "Rubber Duckie", which was published in "The
Sesame Street Songbook" (Simon and Schuster 1971, ISBN 0-671-21036-X).
These lyrics were written on May 27, 1978, in celebration of the
Stanford keyboard:
Double Bucky

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

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

[This, by the way, is an excellent example of computer [4162]filk
--ESR] See also [4163]meta bit, [4164]cokebottle, and [4165]quadruple

Node:doubled sig, Next:[4166]down, Previous:[4167]double bucky,
Up:[4168]= D =

doubled sig [Usenet] n.

A [4169]sig block that has been included twice in a [4170]Usenet
article or, less commonly, in an electronic mail message. An article
or message with a doubled sig can be caused by improperly configured
software. More often, however, it reveals the author's lack of
experience in electronic communication. See [4171]B1FF, [4172]pseudo.

Node:down, Next:[4173]download, Previous:[4174]doubled sig, Up:[4175]=
D =


1. adj. Not operating. "The up escalator is down" is considered a
humorous thing to say (unless of course you were expecting to use it),
and "The elevator is down" always means "The elevator isn't working"
and never refers to what floor the elevator is on. With respect to
computers, this term has passed into the mainstream; the extension to
other kinds of machine is still confined to techies (e.g. boiler
mechanics may speak of a boiler being down). 2. `go down' vi. To stop
functioning; usually said of the [4176]system. The message from the
[4177]console that every hacker hates to hear from the operator is
"System going down in 5 minutes". 3. `take down', `bring down' vt. To
deactivate purposely, usually for repair work or [4178]PM. "I'm taking
the system down to work on that bug in the tape drive." Occasionally
one hears the word `down' by itself used as a verb in this vt. sense.
See [4179]crash; oppose [4180]up.

Node:download, Next:[4181]DP, Previous:[4182]down, Up:[4183]= D =

download vt.

To transfer data or (esp.) code from a far-away system (especially a
larger `host' system) over a digital communications link to a nearby
system (especially a smaller `client' system. Oppose [4184]upload.

Historical use of these terms was at one time associated with
transfers from large timesharing machines to PCs or peripherals
(download) and vice-versa (upload). The modern usage relative to the
speaker (rather than as an indicator of the size and role of the
machines) evolved as machine categories lost most of their former
functional importance.

Node:DP, Next:[4185]DPB, Previous:[4186]download, Up:[4187]= D =

DP /D-P/ n.

1. Data Processing. Listed here because, according to hackers, use of
the term marks one immediately as a [4188]suit. See [4189]DPer. 2.
Common abbrev for [4190]Dissociated Press.

Node:DPB, Next:[4191]DPer, Previous:[4192]DP, Up:[4193]= D =

DPB /d*-pib'/ vt.

[from the PDP-10 instruction set] To plop something down in the
middle. Usage: silly. "DPB yourself into that couch there." The
connotation would be that the couch is full except for one slot just
big enough for one last person to sit in. DPB means `DePosit Byte',
and was the name of a PDP-10 instruction that inserts some bits into
the middle of some other bits. Hackish usage has been kept alive by
the Common LISP function of the same name.

Node:DPer, Next:[4194]Dr. Fred Mbogo, Previous:[4195]DPB, Up:[4196]= D

DPer /dee-pee-er/ n.

Data Processor. Hackers are absolutely amazed that [4197]suits use
this term self-referentially. Computers process data, not people! See

Node:Dr. Fred Mbogo, Next:[4199]dragon, Previous:[4200]DPer,
Up:[4201]= D =

Dr. Fred Mbogo /*m-boh'goh, dok'tr fred/ n.

[Stanford] The archetypal man you don't want to see about a problem,
esp. an incompetent professional; a shyster. "Do you know a good eye
doctor?" "Sure, try Mbogo Eye Care and Professional Dry Cleaning." The
name comes from synergy between [4202]bogus and the original Dr.
Mbogo, a witch doctor who was Gomez Addams' physician on the old
"Addams Family" TV show. Interestingly enough, it turns out that under
the rules for Swahili noun classes, `m-' is the characteristic prefix
of "nouns referring to human beings". As such, "mbogo" is quite
plausible as a Swahili coinage for a person having the nature of a
[4203]bogon. Compare [4204]Bloggs Family and [4205]J. Random Hacker;
see also [4206]Fred Foobar and [4207]fred.

Node:dragon, Next:[4208]Dragon Book, Previous:[4209]Dr. Fred Mbogo,
Up:[4210]= D =

dragon n.

[MIT] A program similar to a [4211]daemon, except that it is not
invoked at all, but is instead used by the system to perform various
secondary tasks. A typical example would be an accounting program,
which keeps track of who is logged in, accumulates load-average
statistics, etc. Under ITS, many terminals displayed a list of people
logged in, where they were, what they were running, etc., along with
some random picture (such as a unicorn, Snoopy, or the Enterprise),
which was generated by the `name dragon'. Usage: rare outside MIT --
under Unix and most other OSes this would be called a `background
demon' or [4212]daemon. The best-known Unix example of a dragon is
cron(1). At SAIL, they called this sort of thing a `phantom'.

Node:Dragon Book, Next:[4213]drain, Previous:[4214]dragon, Up:[4215]=
D =

Dragon Book n.

The classic text "Compilers: Principles, Techniques and Tools", by
Alfred V. Aho, Ravi Sethi, and Jeffrey D. Ullman (Addison-Wesley 1986;
ISBN 0-201-10088-6), so called because of the cover design featuring a
dragon labeled `complexity of compiler design' and a knight bearing
the lance `LALR parser generator' among his other trappings. This one
is more specifically known as the `Red Dragon Book' (1986); an earlier
edition, sans Sethi and titled "Principles Of Compiler Design" (Alfred
V. Aho and Jeffrey D. Ullman; Addison-Wesley, 1977; ISBN
0-201-00022-9), was the `Green Dragon Book' (1977). (Also `New Dragon
Book', `Old Dragon Book'.) The horsed knight and the Green Dragon were
warily eying each other at a distance; now the knight is typing
(wearing gauntlets!) at a terminal showing a video-game representation
of the Red Dragon's head while the rest of the beast extends back in
normal space. See also [4216]book titles.

Node:drain, Next:[4217]dread high-bit disease, Previous:[4218]Dragon
Book, Up:[4219]= D =

drain v.

[IBM] Syn. for [4220]flush (sense 2). Has a connotation of finality
about it; one speaks of draining a device before taking it offline.

Node:dread high-bit disease, Next:[4221]Dread Questionmark Disease,
Previous:[4222]drain, Up:[4223]= D =

dread high-bit disease n.

A condition endemic to some now-obsolete computers and peripherals
(including ASR-33 teletypes and PRIME minicomputers) that results in
all characters having their high (0x80) bit forced on. This of course
makes transporting files to other systems much more difficult, not to
mention the problems these machines have talking with true 8-bit

This term was originally used specifically of PRIME (a.k.a. PR1ME)
minicomputers. Folklore has it that PRIME adopted the reversed-8-bit
convention in order to save 25 cents per serial line per machine;
PRIME old-timers, on the other hand, claim they inherited the disease
from Honeywell via customer NASA's compatibility requirements and
struggled heroically to cure it. Whoever was responsible, this
probably qualifies as one of the most [4224]cretinous design tradeoffs
ever made. See [4225]meta bit.

Node:Dread Questionmark Disease, Next:[4226]DRECNET,
Previous:[4227]dread high-bit disease, Up:[4228]= D =

Dread Questionmark Disease

n. The result of saving HTML from Microsoft Word or some other program
that uses the nonstandard Microsoft variant of Latin-1; the symptom is
that various of those nonstandard characters in positions 128-160 show
up as questionmarks. The usual culprit is the misnamed `smart quotes'
feature in Microsoft Word. For more details (and a program called
`demoroniser' that cleans up the mess) see

Node:DRECNET, Next:[4230]driver, Previous:[4231]Dread Questionmark
Disease, Up:[4232]= D =

DRECNET /drek'net/ n.

[from Yiddish/German `dreck', meaning filth] Deliberate distortion of
DECNET, a networking protocol used in the [4233]VMS community. So
called because [4234]DEC helped write the Ethernet specification and
then (either stupidly or as a malignant customer-control tactic)
violated that spec in the design of DRECNET in a way that made it
incompatible. See also [4235]connector conspiracy.

Node:driver, Next:[4236]droid, Previous:[4237]DRECNET, Up:[4238]= D =

driver n.

1. The [4239]main loop of an event-processing program; the code that
gets commands and dispatches them for execution. 2. [techspeak] In
`device driver', code designed to handle a particular peripheral
device such as a magnetic disk or tape unit. 3. In the TeX world and
the computerized typesetting world in general, a program that
translates some device-independent or other common format to something
a real device can actually understand.

Node:droid, Next:[4240]drone, Previous:[4241]driver, Up:[4242]= D =

droid n.

[from `android', SF terminology for a humanoid robot of essentially
biological (as opposed to mechanical/electronic) construction] A
person (esp. a low-level bureaucrat or service-business employee)
exhibiting most of the following characteristics: (a) naive trust in
the wisdom of the parent organization or `the system'; (b) a
blind-faith propensity to believe obvious nonsense emitted by
authority figures (or computers!); (c) a rule-governed mentality, one
unwilling or unable to look beyond the `letter of the law' in
exceptional situations; (d) a paralyzing fear of official reprimand or
worse if Procedures are not followed No Matter What; and (e) no
interest in doing anything above or beyond the call of a very
narrowly-interpreted duty, or in particular in fixing that which is
broken; an "It's not my job, man" attitude.

Typical droid positions include supermarket checkout assistant and
bank clerk; the syndrome is also endemic in low-level government
employees. The implication is that the rules and official procedures
constitute software that the droid is executing; problems arise when
the software has not been properly debugged. The term `droid
mentality' is also used to describe the mindset behind this behavior.
Compare [4243]suit, [4244]marketroid; see [4245]-oid.

In England there is equivalent mainstream slang; a `jobsworth' is an
obstructive, rule-following bureaucrat, often of the uniformed or
suited variety. Named for the habit of denying a reasonable request by
sucking his teeth and saying "Oh no, guv, sorry I can't help you:
that's more than my job's worth".

Node:drone, Next:[4246]drool-proof paper, Previous:[4247]droid,
Up:[4248]= D =

drone n.

Ignorant sales or customer service personnel in computer or
electronics superstores. Characterized by a lack of even superficial
knowledge about the products they sell, yet possessed of the
conviction that they are more competent than their hacker customers.
Usage: "That video board probably sucks, it was recommended by a drone
at Fry's" In the year 2000, their natural habitats include Fry's
Electronics, Best Buy, and CompUSA.

Node:drool-proof paper, Next:[4249]drop on the floor,
Previous:[4250]drone, Up:[4251]= D =

drool-proof paper n.

Documentation that has been obsessively [4252]dumbed down, to the
point where only a [4253]cretin could bear to read it, is said to have
succumbed to the `drool-proof paper syndrome' or to have been `written
on drool-proof paper'. For example, this is an actual quote from
Apple's LaserWriter manual: "Do not expose your LaserWriter to open
fire or flame." The SGI Indy manual is said to include the line "Do
not dangle the mouse by the cord or throw it at coworkers.", but this
sounds like parody.

Node:drop on the floor, Next:[4254]drop-ins,
Previous:[4255]drool-proof paper, Up:[4256]= D =

drop on the floor vt.

To react to an error condition by silently discarding messages or
other valuable data. "The gateway ran out of memory, so it just
started dropping packets on the floor." Also frequently used of faulty
mail and netnews relay sites that lose messages. See also [4257]black
hole, [4258]bit bucket.

Node:drop-ins, Next:[4259]drop-outs, Previous:[4260]drop on the floor,
Up:[4261]= D =

drop-ins n.

[prob. by analogy with [4262]drop-outs] Spurious characters appearing
on a terminal or console as a result of line noise or a system
malfunction of some sort. Esp. used when these are interspersed with
one's own typed input. Compare [4263]drop-outs, sense 2.

Node:drop-outs, Next:[4264]drugged, Previous:[4265]drop-ins,
Up:[4266]= D =

drop-outs n.

1. A variety of `power glitch' (see [4267]glitch); momentary 0 voltage
on the electrical mains. 2. Missing characters in typed input due to
software malfunction or system saturation (one cause of such behavior
under Unix when a bad connection to a modem swamps the processor with
spurious character interrupts; see [4268]screaming tty). 3. Mental
glitches; used as a way of describing those occasions when the mind
just seems to shut down for a couple of beats. See [4269]glitch,

Node:drugged, Next:[4271]drum, Previous:[4272]drop-outs, Up:[4273]= D

drugged adj.

(also `on drugs') 1. Conspicuously stupid, heading toward
[4274]brain-damaged. Often accompanied by a pantomime of toking a
joint. 2. Of hardware, very slow relative to normal performance.

Node:drum, Next:[4275]drunk mouse syndrome, Previous:[4276]drugged,
Up:[4277]= D =

drum adj, n.

Ancient techspeak term referring to slow, cylindrical magnetic media
that were once state-of-the-art storage devices. Under BSD Unix the
disk partition used for swapping is still called /dev/drum; this has
led to considerable humor and not a few straight-faced but utterly
bogus `explanations' getting foisted on [4278]newbies. See also
"[4279]The Story of Mel" in Appendix A.

Node:drunk mouse syndrome, Next:[4280]dub dub dub,
Previous:[4281]drum, Up:[4282]= D =

drunk mouse syndrome n.

(also `mouse on drugs') A malady exhibited by the mouse pointing
device of some computers. The typical symptom is for the mouse cursor
on the screen to move in random directions and not in sync with the
motion of the actual mouse. Can usually be corrected by unplugging the
mouse and plugging it back again. Another recommended fix for optical
mice is to rotate your mouse pad 90 degrees.

At Xerox PARC in the 1970s, most people kept a can of copier cleaner
(isopropyl alcohol) at their desks. When the steel ball on the mouse
had picked up enough [4283]cruft to be unreliable, the mouse was
doused in cleaner, which restored it for a while. However, this
operation left a fine residue that accelerated the accumulation of
cruft, so the dousings became more and more frequent. Finally, the
mouse was declared `alcoholic' and sent to the clinic to be dried out
in a CFC ultrasonic bath.

Node:dub dub dub, Next:[4284]Duff's device, Previous:[4285]drunk mouse
syndrome, Up:[4286]= D =

dub dub dub

[common] Spoken-only shorthand for the "www" (double-u double-u
double-u) in many web host names. Nothing to do with the style of
reggae music called `dub'.

Node:Duff's device, Next:[4287]dumb terminal, Previous:[4288]dub dub
dub, Up:[4289]= D =

Duff's device n.

The most dramatic use yet seen of [4290]fall through in C, invented by
Tom Duff when he was at Lucasfilm. Trying to [4291]bum all the
instructions he could out of an inner loop that copied data serially
onto an output port, he decided to unroll it. He then realized that
the unrolled version could be implemented by interlacing the
structures of a switch and a loop:
register n = (count + 7) / 8; /* count > 0 assumed */

switch (count % 8)
case 0: do { *to = *from++;
case 7: *to = *from++;
case 6: *to = *from++;
case 5: *to = *from++;
case 4: *to = *from++;
case 3: *to = *from++;
case 2: *to = *from++;
case 1: *to = *from++;
} while (--n > 0);

Shocking though it appears to all who encounter it for the first time,
the device is actually perfectly valid, legal C. C's default
[4292]fall through in case statements has long been its most
controversial single feature; Duff observed that "This code forms some
sort of argument in that debate, but I'm not sure whether it's for or
against." Duff has discussed the device in detail at
[4293]http://www.lysator.liu.se/c/duffs-device.php. Note that the
omission of postfix ++ from *to was intentional (though confusing).
Duff's device can be used to implement memory copy, but the original
aim was to copy values serially into a magic IO register.

[For maximal obscurity, the outermost pair of braces above could
actually be removed -- GLS]

Node:dumb terminal, Next:[4294]dumbass attack, Previous:[4295]Duff's
device, Up:[4296]= D =

dumb terminal n.

A terminal that is one step above a [4297]glass tty, having a
minimally addressable cursor but no on-screen editing or other
features normally supported by a [4298]smart terminal. Once upon a
time, when glass ttys were common and addressable cursors were
something special, what is now called a dumb terminal could pass for a
smart terminal.

Node:dumbass attack, Next:[4299]dumbed down, Previous:[4300]dumb
terminal, Up:[4301]= D =

dumbass attack /duhm'as *-tak'/ n.

[Purdue] Notional cause of a novice's mistake made by the experienced,
especially one made while running as [4302]root under Unix, e.g.,
typing rm -r * or mkfs on a mounted file system. Compare [4303]adger.

Node:dumbed down, Next:[4304]dump, Previous:[4305]dumbass attack,
Up:[4306]= D =

dumbed down adj.

Simplified, with a strong connotation of oversimplified. Often, a
[4307]marketroid will insist that the interfaces and documentation of
software be dumbed down after the designer has burned untold gallons
of midnight oil making it smart. This creates friction. See

Node:dump, Next:[4309]dumpster diving, Previous:[4310]dumbed down,
Up:[4311]= D =

dump n.

1. An undigested and voluminous mass of information about a problem or
the state of a system, especially one routed to the slowest available
output device (compare [4312]core dump), and most especially one
consisting of hex or octal [4313]runes describing the byte-by-byte
state of memory, mass storage, or some file. In [4314]elder days,
debugging was generally done by `groveling over' a dump (see
[4315]grovel); increasing use of high-level languages and interactive
debuggers has made such tedium uncommon, and the term `dump' now has a
faintly archaic flavor. 2. A backup. This usage is typical only at
large timesharing installations.

Node:dumpster diving, Next:[4316]dup killer, Previous:[4317]dump,
Up:[4318]= D =

dumpster diving /dump'-ster di:'-ving/ n.

1. The practice of sifting refuse from an office or technical
installation to extract confidential data, especially
security-compromising information (`dumpster' is an Americanism for
what is elsewhere called a `skip'). Back in AT&T's monopoly days,
before paper shredders became common office equipment, phone phreaks
(see [4319]phreaking) used to organize regular dumpster runs against
phone company plants and offices. Discarded and damaged copies of AT&T
internal manuals taught them much. The technique is still rumored to
be a favorite of crackers operating against careless targets. 2. The
practice of raiding the dumpsters behind buildings where producers
and/or consumers of high-tech equipment are located, with the
expectation (usually justified) of finding discarded but
still-valuable equipment to be nursed back to health in some hacker's
den. Experienced dumpster-divers not infrequently accumulate basements
full of moldering (but still potentially useful) [4320]cruft.

Node:dup killer, Next:[4321]dup loop, Previous:[4322]dumpster diving,
Up:[4323]= D =

dup killer /d[y]oop kill'r/ n.

[FidoNet] Software that is supposed to detect and delete duplicates of
a message that may have reached the FidoNet system via different

Node:dup loop, Next:[4324]dusty deck, Previous:[4325]dup killer,
Up:[4326]= D =

dup loop /d[y]oop loop/ (also `dupe loop') n.

[FidoNet] An infinite stream of duplicated, near-identical messages on
a FidoNet [4327]echo, the only difference being unique or mangled
identification information applied by a faulty or incorrectly
configured system or network gateway, thus rendering [4328]dup killers
ineffective. If such a duplicate message eventually reaches a system
through which it has already passed (with the original identification
information), all systems passed on the way back to that system are
said to be involved in a [4329]dup loop.

Node:dusty deck, Next:[4330]DWIM, Previous:[4331]dup loop, Up:[4332]=
D =

dusty deck n.

Old software (especially applications) which one is obliged to remain
compatible with, or to maintain ([4333]DP types call this `legacy
code', a term hackers consider smarmy and excessively reverent). The
term implies that the software in question is a holdover from
card-punch days. Used esp. when referring to old scientific and
[4334]number-crunching software, much of which was written in FORTRAN
and very poorly documented but is believed to be too expensive to
replace. See [4335]fossil; compare [4336]crawling horror.

Node:DWIM, Next:[4337]dynner, Previous:[4338]dusty deck, Up:[4339]= D

DWIM /dwim/

[acronym, `Do What I Mean'] 1. adj. Able to guess, sometimes even
correctly, the result intended when bogus input was provided. 2. n.
obs. The BBNLISP/INTERLISP function that attempted to accomplish this
feat by correcting many of the more common errors. See [4340]hairy. 3.
Occasionally, an interjection hurled at a balky computer, esp. when
one senses one might be tripping over legalisms (see [4341]legalese).
4. Of a person, someone whose directions are incomprehensible and
vague, but who nevertheless has the expectation that you will solve
the problem using the specific method he/she has in mind.

Warren Teitelman originally wrote DWIM to fix his typos and spelling
errors, so it was somewhat idiosyncratic to his style, and would often
make hash of anyone else's typos if they were stylistically different.
Some victims of DWIM thus claimed that the acronym stood for `Damn
Warren's Infernal Machine!'.

In one notorious incident, Warren added a DWIM feature to the command
interpreter used at Xerox PARC. One day another hacker there typed
delete *$ to free up some disk space. (The editor there named backup
files by appending $ to the original file name, so he was trying to
delete any backup files left over from old editing sessions.) It
happened that there weren't any editor backup files, so DWIM helpfully
reported *$ not found, assuming you meant 'delete *'. It then started
to delete all the files on the disk! The hacker managed to stop it
with a [4342]Vulcan nerve pinch after only a half dozen or so files
were lost.

The disgruntled victim later said he had been sorely tempted to go to
Warren's office, tie Warren down in his chair in front of his
workstation, and then type delete *$ twice.

DWIM is often suggested in jest as a desired feature for a complex
program; it is also occasionally described as the single instruction
the ideal computer would have. Back when proofs of program correctness
were in vogue, there were also jokes about `DWIMC' (Do What I Mean,
Correctly). A related term, more often seen as a verb, is DTRT (Do The
Right Thing); see [4343]Right Thing.

Node:dynner, Next:[4344]earthquake, Previous:[4345]DWIM, Up:[4346]= D

dynner /din'r/ n.

32 bits, by analogy with [4347]nybble and [4348]byte. Usage: rare and
extremely silly. See also [4349]playte, [4350]tayste, [4351]crumb.
General discussion of such terms is under [4352]nybble.

Node:= E =, Next:[4353]= F =, Previous:[4354]= D =, Up:[4355]The
Jargon Lexicon

= E =

* [4356]earthquake:
* [4357]Easter egg:
* [4358]Easter egging:
* [4359]eat flaming death:
* [4360]EBCDIC:
* [4361]echo:
* [4362]ECP:
* [4363]ed:
* [4364]egosurf:
* [4365]eighty-column mind:
* [4366]El Camino Bignum:
* [4367]elder days:
* [4368]elegant:
* [4369]elephantine:
* [4370]elevator controller:
* [4371]elite:
* [4372]ELIZA effect:
* [4373]elvish:
* [4374]EMACS:
* [4375]email:
* [4376]emoticon:
* [4377]EMP:
* [4378]empire:
* [4379]engine:
* [4380]English:
* [4381]enhancement:
* [4382]ENQ:
* [4383]EOF:
* [4384]EOL:
* [4385]EOU:
* [4386]epoch:
* [4387]epsilon:
* [4388]epsilon squared:
* [4389]era the:
* [4390]Eric Conspiracy:
* [4391]Eris:
* [4392]erotics:
* [4393]error 33:
* [4394]eurodemo:
* [4395]evil:
* [4396]evil and rude:
* [4397]Evil Empire:
* [4398]exa-:
* [4399]examining the entrails:
* [4400]EXCH:
* [4401]excl:
* [4402]EXE:
* [4403]exec:
* [4404]exercise left as an:
* [4405]Exon:
* [4406]Exploder:
* [4407]exploit:
* [4408]external memory:
* [4409]eye candy:
* [4410]eyeball search:

Node:earthquake, Next:[4411]Easter egg, Previous:[4412]dynner,
Up:[4413]= E =

earthquake n.

[IBM] The ultimate real-world shock test for computer hardware.
Hackish sources at IBM deny the rumor that the Bay Area quake of 1989
was initiated by the company to test quality-assurance procedures at
its California plants.

Node:Easter egg, Next:[4414]Easter egging, Previous:[4415]earthquake,
Up:[4416]= E =

Easter egg n.

[from the custom of the Easter Egg hunt observed in the U.S. and many
parts of Europe] 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 OSes
caused them to respond to the command make love with not war?. Many
personal computers have much more elaborate eggs hidden in ROM,
including lists of the developers' names, political exhortations,
snatches of music, and (in one case) graphics images of the entire
development team.

Node:Easter egging, Next:[4417]eat flaming death,
Previous:[4418]Easter egg, Up:[4419]= E =

Easter egging n.

[IBM] The act of replacing unrelated components more or less at random
in hopes that a malfunction will go away. Hackers consider this the
normal operating mode of [4420]field circus techs and do not love them
for it. See also the jokes under [4421]field circus. Compare
[4422]shotgun debugging.

Node:eat flaming death, Next:[4423]EBCDIC, Previous:[4424]Easter
egging, Up:[4425]= E =

eat flaming death imp.

A construction popularized among hackers by the infamous [4426]CPU
Wars comic; supposedly derive from a famously turgid line in a
WWII-era anti-Nazi propaganda comic that ran "Eat flaming death,
non-Aryan mongrels!" or something of the sort (however, it is also
reported that the Firesign Theatre's 1975 album "In The Next World,
You're On Your Own" a character won the right to scream "Eat flaming
death, fascist media pigs" in the middle of Oscar night on a game
show; this may have been an influence). Used in humorously overblown
expressions of hostility. "Eat flaming death, [4427]EBCDIC users!"

Node:EBCDIC, Next:[4428]echo, Previous:[4429]eat flaming death,
Up:[4430]= E =

EBCDIC /eb's*-dik/, /eb'see`dik/, or /eb'k*-dik/ n.

[abbreviation, Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code] An
alleged character set used on IBM [4431]dinosaurs. It exists in at
least six mutually incompatible versions, all featuring such delights
as non-contiguous letter sequences and the absence of several ASCII
punctuation characters fairly important for modern computer languages
(exactly which characters are absent varies according to which version
of EBCDIC you're looking at). IBM adapted EBCDIC from [4432]punched
card code in the early 1960s and promulgated it as a customer-control
tactic (see [4433]connector conspiracy), spurning the already
established ASCII standard. Today, IBM claims to be an open-systems
company, but IBM's own description of the EBCDIC variants and how to
convert between them is still internally classified top-secret,
burn-before-reading. Hackers blanch at the very name of EBCDIC and
consider it a manifestation of purest [4434]evil. See also [4435]fear
and loathing.

Node:echo, Next:[4436]ECP, Previous:[4437]EBCDIC, Up:[4438]= E =

echo [FidoNet] n.

A [4439]topic group on [4440]FidoNet's echomail system. Compare

Node:ECP, Next:[4442]ed, Previous:[4443]echo, Up:[4444]= E =

ECP /E-C-P/ n.

See [4445]spam and [4446]velveeta.

Node:ed, Next:[4447]egosurf, Previous:[4448]ECP, Up:[4449]= E =

ed n.

"ed is the standard text editor." Line taken from original the
[4450]Unix manual page on ed, an ancient line-oriented editor that is
by now used only by a few [4451]Real Programmers, and even then only
for batch operations. The original line is sometimes uttered near the
beginning of an emacs vs. vi holy war on [4452]Usenet, with the (vain)
hope to quench the discussion before it really takes off. Often
followed by a standard text describing the many virtues of ed (such as
the small memory [4453]footprint on a Timex Sinclair, and the
consistent (because nearly non-existent) user interface).

Node:egosurf, Next:[4454]eighty-column mind, Previous:[4455]ed,
Up:[4456]= E =

egosurf vi.

To search the net for your name or links to your web pages. Perhaps
connected to long-established SF-fan slang `egoscan', to search for
one's name in a fanzine.

Node:eighty-column mind, Next:[4457]El Camino Bignum,
Previous:[4458]egosurf, Up:[4459]= E =

eighty-column mind n.

[IBM] The sort said to be possessed by persons for whom the transition
from [4460]punched card to tape was traumatic (nobody has dared tell
them about disks yet). It is said that these people, including
(according to an old joke) the founder of IBM, will be buried `face
down, 9-edge first' (the 9-edge being the bottom of the card). This
directive is inscribed on IBM's 1402 and 1622 card readers and is
referenced in a famous bit of doggerel called "The Last Bug", the
climactic lines of which are as follows:
He died at the console
Of hunger and thirst.
Next day he was buried,
Face down, 9-edge first.

The eighty-column mind was thought by most hackers to dominate IBM's
customer base and its thinking. This only began to change in the
mid-1990s when IBM began to reinvent itself after the triumph of the
[4461]killer micro. See [4462]IBM, [4463]fear and loathing, [4464]card
walloper. A copy of "The Last Bug" lives on the the GNU site at

Node:El Camino Bignum, Next:[4466]elder days,
Previous:[4467]eighty-column mind, Up:[4468]= E =

El Camino Bignum /el' k*-mee'noh big'nuhm/ n.

The road mundanely called El Camino Real, running along San Francisco
peninsula. It originally extended all the way down to Mexico City;
many portions of the old road are still intact. Navigation on the San
Francisco peninsula is usually done relative to El Camino Real, which
defines [4469]logical north and south even though it isn't really
north-south in many places. El Camino Real runs right past Stanford
University and so is familiar to hackers.

The Spanish word `real' (which has two syllables: /ray-ahl'/) means
`royal'; El Camino Real is `the royal road'. In the FORTRAN language,
a `real' quantity is a number typically precise to seven significant
digits, and a `double precision' quantity is a larger floating-point
number, precise to perhaps fourteen significant digits (other
languages have similar `real' types).

When a hacker from MIT visited Stanford in 1976, he remarked what a
long road El Camino Real was. Making a pun on `real', he started
calling it `El Camino Double Precision' -- but when the hacker was
told that the road was hundreds of miles long, he renamed it `El
Camino Bignum', and that name has stuck. (See [4470]bignum.)

[GLS has since let slip that the unnamed hacker in this story was in
fact himself --ESR]

In recent years, the synonym `El Camino Virtual' has been reported as
an alternate at IBM and Amdahl sites in the Valley. Mathematically
literate hackers in the Valley have also been heard to refer to some
major cross-street intersecting El Camino Real as "El Camino
Imaginary". One popular theory is that the intersection is located
near Moffett Field - where they keep all those complex planes.

Node:elder days, Next:[4471]elegant, Previous:[4472]El Camino Bignum,
Up:[4473]= E =

elder days n.

The heroic age of hackerdom (roughly, pre-1980); the era of the
[4474]PDP-10, [4475]TECO, [4476]ITS, and the ARPANET. This term has
been rather consciously adopted from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy epic
"The Lord of the Rings". Compare [4477]Iron Age; see also [4478]elvish
and [4479]Great Worm.

Node:elegant, Next:[4480]elephantine, Previous:[4481]elder days,
Up:[4482]= E =

elegant adj.

[common; from mathematical usage] Combining simplicity, power, and a
certain ineffable grace of design. Higher praise than `clever',
`winning', or even [4483]cuspy.

The French aviator, adventurer, and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,
probably best known for his classic children's book "The Little
Prince", was also an aircraft designer. He gave us perhaps the best
definition of engineering elegance when he said "A designer knows he
has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but
when there is nothing left to take away."

Node:elephantine, Next:[4484]elevator controller,
Previous:[4485]elegant, Up:[4486]= E =

elephantine adj.

Used of programs or systems that are both conspicuous [4487]hogs
(owing perhaps to poor design founded on [4488]brute force and
ignorance) and exceedingly [4489]hairy in source form. An elephantine
program may be functional and even friendly, but (as in the old joke
about being in bed with an elephant) it's tough to have around all the
same (and, like a pachyderm, difficult to maintain). In extreme cases,
hackers have been known to make trumpeting sounds or perform
expressive proboscatory mime at the mention of the offending program.
Usage: semi-humorous. Compare `has the elephant nature' and the
somewhat more pejorative [4490]monstrosity. See also
[4491]second-system effect and [4492]baroque.

Node:elevator controller, Next:[4493]elite,
Previous:[4494]elephantine, Up:[4495]= E =

elevator controller n.

An archetypal dumb embedded-systems application, like [4496]toaster
(which superseded it). During one period (1983-84) in the
deliberations of ANSI X3J11 (the C standardization committee) this was
the canonical example of a really stupid, memory-limited computation
environment. "You can't require printf(3) to be part of the default
runtime library -- what if you're targeting an elevator controller?"
Elevator controllers became important rhetorical weapons on both sides
of several [4497]holy wars.

Node:elite, Next:[4498]ELIZA effect, Previous:[4499]elevator
controller, Up:[4500]= E =

elite adj.

Clueful. Plugged-in. One of the cognoscenti. Also used as a general
positive adjective. This term is not actually native hacker slang; it
is used primarily by crackers and [4501]warez d00dz, for which reason
hackers use it only with heavy irony. The term used to refer to the
folks allowed in to the "hidden" or "privileged" sections of BBSes in
the early 1980s (which, typically, contained pirated software).
Frequently, early boards would only let you post, or even see, a
certain subset of the sections (or `boards') on a BBS. Those who got
to the frequently legendary `triple super secret' boards were elite.
Misspellings of this term in warez d00dz style abound; the forms
`eleet', and `31337' (among others) have been sighted.

A true hacker would be more likely to use `wizardly'. Oppose

Node:ELIZA effect, Next:[4503]elvish, Previous:[4504]elite, Up:[4505]=
E =

ELIZA effect /*-li:'z* *-fekt'/ n.

[AI community] The tendency of humans to attach associations to terms
from prior experience. For example, there is nothing magic about the
symbol + that makes it well-suited to indicate addition; it's just
that people associate it with addition. Using + or `plus' to mean
addition in a computer language is taking advantage of the ELIZA

This term comes from the famous ELIZA program by Joseph Weizenbaum,
which simulated a Rogerian psychotherapist by rephrasing many of the
patient's statements as questions and posing them to the patient. It
worked by simple pattern recognition and substitution of key words
into canned phrases. It was so convincing, however, that there are
many anecdotes about people becoming very emotionally caught up in
dealing with ELIZA. All this was due to people's tendency to attach to
words meanings which the computer never put there. The ELIZA effect is
a [4506]Good Thing when writing a programming language, but it can
blind you to serious shortcomings when analyzing an Artificial
Intelligence system. Compare [4507]ad-hockery; see also
[4508]AI-complete. Sources for a clone of the original Eliza are
available at

Node:elvish, Next:[4510]EMACS, Previous:[4511]ELIZA effect, Up:[4512]=
E =

elvish n.

1. The Tengwar of Feanor, a table of letterforms resembling the
beautiful Celtic half-uncial hand of the "Book of Kells". Invented and
described by J. R. R. Tolkien in "The Lord of The Rings" as an
orthography for his fictional `elvish' languages, this system (which
is both visually and phonetically [4513]elegant) has long fascinated
hackers (who tend to be intrigued by artificial languages in general).
It is traditional for graphics printers, plotters, window systems, and
the like to support a Feanorian typeface as one of their demo items.
See also [4514]elder days. 2. By extension, any odd or unreadable
typeface produced by a graphics device. 3. The typeface mundanely
called `Böcklin', an art-Noveau display font.

Node:EMACS, Next:[4515]email, Previous:[4516]elvish, Up:[4517]= E =

EMACS /ee'maks/ n.

[from Editing MACroS] The ne plus ultra of hacker editors, a
programmable text editor with an entire LISP system inside it. It was
originally written by Richard Stallman in [4518]TECO under [4519]ITS
at the MIT AI lab; AI Memo 554 described it as "an advanced,
self-documenting, customizable, extensible real-time display editor".
It has since been reimplemented any number of times, by various
hackers, and versions exist that run under most major operating
systems. Perhaps the most widely used version, also written by
Stallman and now called "[4520]GNU EMACS" or [4521]GNUMACS, runs
principally under Unix. (Its close relative XEmacs is the second most
popular version.) It includes facilities to run compilation
subprocesses and send and receive mail or news; many hackers spend up
to 80% of their [4522]tube time inside it. Other variants include
[4523]GOSMACS, CCA EMACS, UniPress EMACS, Montgomery EMACS, jove,
epsilon, and MicroEMACS. (Though we use the original all-caps spelling
here, it is nowadays very commonly `Emacs'.)

Some EMACS versions running under window managers iconify as an
overflowing kitchen sink, perhaps to suggest the one feature the
editor does not (yet) include. Indeed, some hackers find EMACS too
[4524]heavyweight and [4525]baroque for their taste, and expand the
name as `Escape Meta Alt Control Shift' to spoof its heavy reliance on
keystrokes decorated with [4526]bucky bits. Other spoof expansions
include `Eight Megabytes And Constantly Swapping' (from when that was
a lot of [4527]core), `Eventually malloc()s All Computer Storage', and
`EMACS Makes A Computer Slow' (see [4528]recursive acronym). See also

Node:email, Next:[4530]emoticon, Previous:[4531]EMACS, Up:[4532]= E =

email /ee'mayl/

(also written `e-mail' and `E-mail') 1. n. Electronic mail
automatically passed through computer networks and/or via modems over
common-carrier lines. Contrast [4533]snail-mail, [4534]paper-net,
[4535]voice-net. See [4536]network address. 2. vt. To send electronic

Oddly enough, the word `emailed' is actually listed in the OED; it
means "embossed (with a raised pattern) or perh. arranged in a net or
open work". A use from 1480 is given. The word is probably derived
from French `émaillé' (enameled) and related to Old French
`emmailleüre' (network). A French correspondent tells us that in
modern French, `email' is a hard enamel obtained by heating special
paints in a furnace; an `emailleur' (no final e) is a craftsman who
makes email (he generally paints some objects (like, say, jewelry) and
cooks them in a furnace).

There are numerous spelling variants of this word. In Internet traffic
up to 1995, `email' predominates, `e-mail' runs a not-too-distant
second, and `E-mail' and `Email' are a distant third and fourth.

Node:emoticon, Next:[4537]EMP, Previous:[4538]email, Up:[4539]= E =

emoticon /ee-moh'ti-kon/ n.

[common] An ASCII glyph used to indicate an emotional state in email
or news. Although originally intended mostly as jokes, emoticons (or
some other explicit humor indication) are virtually required under
certain circumstances in high-volume text-only communication forums
such as Usenet; the lack of verbal and visual cues can otherwise cause
what were intended to be humorous, sarcastic, ironic, or otherwise
non-100%-serious comments to be badly misinterpreted (not always even
by [4540]newbies), resulting in arguments and [4541]flame wars.

Hundreds of emoticons have been proposed, but only a few are in common
use. These include:

`smiley face' (for humor, laughter, friendliness, occasionally

`frowney face' (for sadness, anger, or upset)

`half-smiley' ([4542]ha ha only serious); also known as
`semi-smiley' or `winkey face'.

`wry face'

(These may become more comprehensible if you tilt your head sideways,
to the left.)

The first two listed are by far the most frequently encountered.
Hyphenless forms of them are common on CompuServe, GEnie, and BIX; see
also [4543]bixie. On [4544]Usenet, `smiley' is often used as a generic
term synonymous with [4545]emoticon, as well as specifically for the
happy-face emoticon.

It appears that the emoticon was invented by one Scott Fahlman on the
CMU [4546]bboard systems sometime between early 1981 and mid-1982. He
later wrote: "I wish I had saved the original post, or at least
recorded the date for posterity, but I had no idea that I was starting
something that would soon pollute all the world's communication
channels." [GLS confirms that he remembers this original posting].

Note for the [4547]newbie: Overuse of the smiley is a mark of
loserhood! More than one per paragraph is a fairly sure sign that
you've gone over the line.

Node:EMP, Next:[4548]empire, Previous:[4549]emoticon, Up:[4550]= E =


See [4551]spam.

Node:empire, Next:[4552]engine, Previous:[4553]EMP, Up:[4554]= E =

empire n.

Any of a family of military simulations derived from a game written by
Peter Langston many years ago. A number of multi-player variants of
varying degrees of sophistication exist, and one single-player version
implemented for both Unix and VMS; the latter is even available as
MS-DOS freeware. All are notoriously addictive. Of various commercial
derivatives the best known is probably "Empire Deluxe" on PCs and

Modern empire is a real-time wargame played over the internet by up to
120 players. Typical games last from 24 hours (blitz) to a couple of
months (long term). The amount of sleep you can get while playing is a
function of the rate at which updates occur and the number of
co-rulers of your country. Empire server software is available for
unix-like machines, and clients for Unix and other platforms. A
comprehensive history of the game is available at
[4555]http://www.empire.cx/infopages/History.php. The Empire resource
site is at [4556]http://www.empire.cx/.

Node:engine, Next:[4557]English, Previous:[4558]empire, Up:[4559]= E =

engine n.

1. A piece of hardware that encapsulates some function but can't be
used without some kind of [4560]front end. Today we have, especially,
`print engine': the guts of a laser printer. 2. An analogous piece of
software; notionally, one that does a lot of noisy crunching, such as
a `database engine'.

The hacker senses of `engine' are actually close to its original,
pre-Industrial-Revolution sense of a skill, clever device, or
instrument (the word is cognate to `ingenuity'). This sense had not
been completely eclipsed by the modern connotation of
power-transducing machinery in Charles Babbage's time, which explains
why he named the stored-program computer that he designed in 1844 the
`Analytical Engine'.

Node:English, Next:[4561]enhancement, Previous:[4562]engine,
Up:[4563]= E =


1. n. obs. The source code for a program, which may be in any
language, as opposed to the linkable or executable binary produced
from it by a compiler. The idea behind the term is that to a real
hacker, a program written in his favorite programming language is at
least as readable as English. Usage: mostly by old-time hackers,
though recognizable in context. Today the prefereed shorthand is
sinply [4564]source. 2. The official name of the database language
used by the old Pick Operating System, actually a sort of crufty,
brain-damaged SQL with delusions of grandeur. The name permitted
[4565]marketroids to say "Yes, and you can program our computers in
English!" to ignorant [4566]suits without quite running afoul of the
truth-in-advertising laws.

Node:enhancement, Next:[4567]ENQ, Previous:[4568]English, Up:[4569]= E

enhancement n.

Common [4570]marketroid-speak for a bug [4571]fix. This abuse of
language is a popular and time-tested way to turn incompetence into
increased revenue. A hacker being ironic would instead call the fix a
[4572]feature -- or perhaps save some effort by declaring the bug
itself to be a feature.

Node:ENQ, Next:[4573]EOF, Previous:[4574]enhancement, Up:[4575]= E =

ENQ /enkw/ or /enk/

[from the ASCII mnemonic ENQuire for 0000101] An on-line convention
for querying someone's availability. After opening a [4576]talk mode
connection to someone apparently in heavy hack mode, one might type
SYN SYN ENQ? (the SYNs representing notional synchronization bytes),
and expect a return of [4577]ACK or [4578]NAK depending on whether or
not the person felt interruptible. Compare [4579]ping, [4580]finger,
and the usage of FOO? listed under [4581]talk mode.

Node:EOF, Next:[4582]EOL, Previous:[4583]ENQ, Up:[4584]= E =

EOF /E-O-F/ n.

[abbreviation, `End Of File'] 1. [techspeak] The [4585]out-of-band
value returned by C's sequential character-input functions (and their
equivalents in other environments) when end of file has been reached.
This value is usually -1 under C libraries postdating V6 Unix, but was
originally 0. DOS hackers think EOF is ^Z, and a few Amiga hackers
think it's ^\. 2. [Unix] The keyboard character (usually control-D,
the ASCII EOT (End Of Transmission) character) that is mapped by the
terminal driver into an end-of-file condition. 3. Used by extension in
non-computer contexts when a human is doing something that can be
modeled 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 [4586]JCL manual." See also [4587]EOL.

Node:EOL, Next:[4588]EOU, Previous:[4589]EOF, Up:[4590]= E =

EOL /E-O-L/ n.

[End Of Line] Syn. for [4591]newline, derived perhaps from the
original CDC6600 Pascal. Now rare, but widely recognized and
occasionally used for brevity. Used in the example entry under
[4592]BNF. See also [4593]EOF.

Node:EOU, Next:[4594]epoch, Previous:[4595]EOL, Up:[4596]= E =

EOU /E-O-U/ n.

The mnemonic of a mythical ASCII control character (End Of User) that
would make an ASR-33 Teletype explode on receipt. This construction
parodies the numerous obscure delimiter and control characters left in
ASCII from the days when it was associated more with wire-service
teletypes than computers (e.g., FS, GS, RS, US, EM, SUB, ETX, and esp.
EOT). It is worth remembering that ASR-33s were big, noisy mechanical
beasts with a lot of clattering parts; the notion that one might
explode was nowhere near as ridiculous as it might seem to someone
sitting in front of a [4597]tube or flatscreen today.

Node:epoch, Next:[4598]epsilon, Previous:[4599]EOU, Up:[4600]= E =

epoch n.

[Unix: prob. from astronomical timekeeping] The time and date
corresponding to 0 in an operating system's clock and timestamp
values. Under most Unix versions the epoch is 00:00:00 GMT, January 1,
1970; under VMS, it's 00:00:00 of November 17, 1858 (base date of the
U.S. Naval Observatory's ephemerides); on a Macintosh, it's the
midnight beginning January 1 1904. System time is measured in seconds
or [4601]ticks past the epoch. Weird problems may ensue when the clock
wraps around (see [4602]wrap around), which is not necessarily a rare
event; on systems counting 10 ticks per second, a signed 32-bit count
of ticks is good only for 6.8 years. The 1-tick-per-second clock of
Unix is good only until January 18, 2038, assuming at least some
software continues to consider it signed and that word lengths don't
increase by then. See also [4603]wall time. Microsoft Windows, on the
other hand, has an epoch problem every 49.7 days - but this is seldom
noticed as Windows is almost incapable of staying up continuously for
that long.

Node:epsilon, Next:[4604]epsilon squared, Previous:[4605]epoch,
Up:[4606]= E =


[see [4607]delta] 1. n. A small quantity of anything. "The cost is
epsilon." 2. adj. Very small, negligible; less than [4608]marginal.
"We can get this feature for epsilon cost." 3. `within epsilon of':
close enough to be indistinguishable for all practical purposes, even
closer than being `within delta of'. "That's not what I asked for, but
it's within epsilon of what I wanted." Alternatively, it may mean not
close enough, but very little is required to get it there: "My program
is within epsilon of working."

Node:epsilon squared, Next:[4609]era the, Previous:[4610]epsilon,
Up:[4611]= E =

epsilon squared n.

A quantity even smaller than [4612]epsilon, as small in comparison to
epsilon as epsilon is to something normal; completely negligible. If
you buy a supercomputer for a million dollars, the cost of the
thousand-dollar terminal to go with it is [4613]epsilon, and the cost
of the ten-dollar cable to connect them is epsilon squared. Compare
[4614]lost in the underflow, [4615]lost in the noise.

Node:era the, Next:[4616]Eric Conspiracy, Previous:[4617]epsilon
squared, Up:[4618]= E =

era n.

Syn. [4619]epoch. Webster's Unabridged makes these words almost
synonymous, but `era' more often connotes a span of time rather than a
point in time, whereas the reverse is true for [4620]epoch. The
[4621]epoch usage is recommended.

Node:Eric Conspiracy, Next:[4622]Eris, Previous:[4623]era the,
Up:[4624]= E =

Eric Conspiracy n.

A shadowy group of mustachioed hackers named Eric first pinpointed as
a sinister conspiracy by an infamous talk.bizarre posting ca. 1987;
this was doubtless influenced by the numerous `Eric' jokes in the
Monty Python oeuvre. There do indeed seem to be considerably more
mustachioed Erics in hackerdom than the frequency of these three
traits can account for unless they are correlated in some arcane way.
Well-known examples include Eric Allman (he of the `Allman style'
described under [4625]indent style) and Erik Fair (co-author of NNTP);
your editor has heard from more than sixty others by email, and the
organization line `Eric Conspiracy Secret Laboratories' now emanates
regularly from more than one site. See the Eric Conspiracy Web Page at
[4626]http://www.ccil.org/~esr/ecsl/ for full details.

Node:Eris, Next:[4627]erotics, Previous:[4628]Eric Conspiracy,
Up:[4629]= E =

Eris /e'ris/ n.

The Greek goddess of Chaos, Discord, Confusion, and Things You Know
Not Of; her name was latinized to Discordia and she was worshiped by
that name in Rome. Not a very friendly deity in the Classical
original, she was reinvented as a more benign personification of
creative anarchy starting in 1959 by the adherents of
[4630]Discordianism and has since been a semi-serious subject of
veneration in several `fringe' cultures, including hackerdom. See
[4631]Discordianism, [4632]Church of the SubGenius.

Node:erotics, Next:[4633]error 33, Previous:[4634]Eris, Up:[4635]= E =

erotics /ee-ro'tiks/ n.

[Helsinki University of Technology, Finland] n. English-language
university slang for electronics. Often used by hackers in Helsinki,
maybe because good electronics excites them and makes them warm.

Node:error 33, Next:[4636]eurodemo, Previous:[4637]erotics, Up:[4638]=
E =

error 33 [XEROX PARC] n.

1. Predicating one research effort upon the success of another. 2.
Allowing your own research effort to be placed on the critical path of
some other project (be it a research effort or not).

Node:eurodemo, Next:[4639]evil, Previous:[4640]error 33, Up:[4641]= E

eurodemo /yoor'o-dem`-o/

a [4642]demo, sense 4

Node:evil, Next:[4643]evil and rude, Previous:[4644]eurodemo,
Up:[4645]= E =

evil adj.

As used by hackers, implies that some system, program, person, or
institution is sufficiently maldesigned as to be not worth the bother
of dealing with. Unlike the adjectives in the
[4646]cretinous/[4647]losing/[4648]brain-damaged series, `evil' does
not imply incompetence or bad design, but rather a set of goals or
design criteria fatally incompatible with the speaker's. This usage is
more an esthetic and engineering judgment than a moral one in the
mainstream sense. "We thought about adding a [4649]Blue Glue interface
but decided it was too evil to deal with." "[4650]TECO is neat, but it
can be pretty evil if you're prone to typos." Often pronounced with
the first syllable lengthened, as /eeee'vil/. Compare [4651]evil and

Node:evil and rude, Next:[4652]Evil Empire, Previous:[4653]evil,
Up:[4654]= E =

evil and rude adj.

Both [4655]evil and [4656]rude, but with the additional connotation
that the rudeness was due to malice rather than incompetence. Thus,
for example: Microsoft's Windows NT is evil because it's a competent
implementation of a bad design; it's rude because it's gratuitously
incompatible with Unix in places where compatibility would have been
as easy and effective to do; but it's evil and rude because the
incompatibilities are apparently there not to fix design bugs in Unix
but rather to lock hapless customers and developers into the Microsoft
way. Hackish evil and rude is close to the mainstream sense of `evil'.

Node:Evil Empire, Next:[4657]exa-, Previous:[4658]evil and rude,
Up:[4659]= E =

Evil Empire n.

[from Ronald Reagan's famous characterization of the communist Soviet
Union] Formerly [4660]IBM, now [4661]Microsoft. Functionally, the
company most hackers love to hate at any given time. Hackers like to
see themselves as romantic rebels against the Evil Empire, and
frequently adopt this role to the point of ascribing rather more power
and malice to the Empire than it actually has. See also [4662]Borg and
search for [4663]Evil Empire pages on the Web.

Node:exa-, Next:[4664]examining the entrails, Previous:[4665]Evil
Empire, Up:[4666]= E =

exa- /ek's*/ pref.

[SI] See [4667]quantifiers.

Node:examining the entrails, Next:[4668]EXCH, Previous:[4669]exa-,
Up:[4670]= E =

examining the entrails n.

The process of [4671]grovelling through a [4672]core dump or hex image
in an attempt to discover the bug that brought a program or system
down. The reference is to divination from the entrails of a sacrified
animal. Compare [4673]runes, [4674]incantation, [4675]black art,
[4676]desk check.

Node:EXCH, Next:[4677]excl, Previous:[4678]examining the entrails,
Up:[4679]= E =

EXCH /eks'ch*/ or /eksch/ vt.

To exchange two things, each for the other; to swap places. If you
point to two people sitting down and say "Exch!", you are asking them
to trade places. EXCH, meaning EXCHange, was originally the name of a
PDP-10 instruction that exchanged the contents of a register and a
memory location. Many newer hackers are probably thinking instead of
the [4680]PostScript exchange operator (which is usually written in

Node:excl, Next:[4681]EXE, Previous:[4682]EXCH, Up:[4683]= E =

excl /eks'kl/ n.

Abbreviation for `exclamation point'. See [4684]bang, [4685]shriek,

Node:EXE, Next:[4687]exec, Previous:[4688]excl, Up:[4689]= E =

EXE /eks'ee/ or /eek'see/ or /E-X-E/ n.

An executable binary file. Some operating systems (notably MS-DOS,
VMS, and TWENEX) use the extension .EXE to mark such files. This usage
is also occasionally found among Unix programmers even though Unix
executables don't have any required suffix.

Node:exec, Next:[4690]exercise left as an, Previous:[4691]EXE,
Up:[4692]= E =

exec /eg-zek'/ or /eks'ek/ vt., n.

1. [Unix: from `execute'] Synonym for [4693]chain, derives from the
exec(2) call. 2. [from `executive'] obs. The command interpreter for
an [4694]OS (see [4695]shell); term esp. used around mainframes, and
prob. derived from UNIVAC's archaic EXEC 2 and EXEC 8 operating
systems. 3. At IBM and VM/CMS shops, the equivalent of a shell command
file (among VM/CMS users).

The mainstream `exec' as an abbreviation for (human) executive is not
used. To a hacker, an `exec' is a always a program, never a person.

Node:exercise left as an, Next:[4696]Exon, Previous:[4697]exec,
Up:[4698]= E =

exercise, left as an adj.

[from technical books] Used to complete a proof when one doesn't mind
a [4699]handwave, or to avoid one entirely. The complete phrase is:
"The proof [or `the rest'] is left as an exercise for the reader."
This comment has occasionally been attached to unsolved research
problems by authors possessed of either an evil sense of humor or a
vast faith in the capabilities of their audiences.

Node:Exon, Next:[4700]Exploder, Previous:[4701]exercise left as an,
Up:[4702]= E =

Exon /eks'on/ excl.

A generic obscenity that quickly entered wide use on the Internet and
Usenet after [4703]Black Thursday. From the last name of Senator James
Exon (Democrat-Nebraska), primary author of the [4704]CDA.

Node:Exploder, Next:[4705]exploit, Previous:[4706]Exon, Up:[4707]= E =

Exploder n.

Used within Microsoft to refer to the Windows Explorer, the interface
component of Windows 95 and WinNT 4. Our spies report that most of the
heavy guns at MS came from a Unix background and use command line
utilities; even they are scornful of the over-gingerbreaded [4708]WIMP
environments that they have been called upon to create.

Node:exploit, Next:[4709]external memory, Previous:[4710]Exploder,
Up:[4711]= E =

exploit n.

[originally cracker slang] 1. A vulnerability in software that can be
used for breaking security or otherwise attacking an Internet host
over the network. The [4712]Ping O' Death is a famous exploit. 2. More
grammatically, a program that exploits an exploit in sense 1,

Node:external memory, Next:[4713]eye candy, Previous:[4714]exploit,
Up:[4715]= E =

external memory n.

A memo pad, palmtop computer, or written notes. "Hold on while I write
that to external memory". The analogy is with store or DRAM versus
nonvolatile disk storage on computers.

Node:eye candy, Next:[4716]eyeball search, Previous:[4717]external
memory, Up:[4718]= E =

eye candy /i:' kand`ee/ n.

[from mainstream slang "ear candy"] A display of some sort that's
presented to [4719]lusers to keep them distracted while the program
performs necessary background tasks. "Give 'em some eye candy while
the back-end [4720]slurps that [4721]BLOB into core." Reported as
mainstream usage among players of graphics-heavy computer games. We're
also told this term is mainstream slang for soft pornography, but that
sense does not appear to be live among hackers.

Node:eyeball search, Next:[4722]face time, Previous:[4723]eye candy,
Up:[4724]= E =

eyeball search n.,v.

To look for something in a mass of code or data with one's own native
optical sensors, as opposed to using some sort of pattern matching
software like [4725]grep or any other automated search tool. Also
called a [4726]vgrep; compare [4727]vdiff, [4728]desk check.

Node:= F =, Next:[4729]= G =, Previous:[4730]= E =, Up:[4731]The
Jargon Lexicon

= F =

* [4732]face time:
* [4733]factor:
* [4734]fairings:
* [4735]fall over:
* [4736]fall through:
* [4737]fan:
* [4738]fandango on core:
* [4739]FAQ:
* [4740]FAQ list:
* [4741]FAQL:
* [4742]faradize:
* [4743]farkled:
* [4744]farming:
* [4745]fascist:
* [4746]fat electrons:
* [4747]fat-finger:
* [4748]faulty:
* [4749]fd leak:
* [4750]fear and loathing:
* [4751]feature:
* [4752]feature creature:
* [4753]feature creep:
* [4754]feature key:
* [4755]feature shock:
* [4756]featurectomy:
* [4757]feep:
* [4758]feeper:
* [4759]feeping creature:
* [4760]feeping creaturism:
* [4761]feetch feetch:
* [4762]fence:
* [4763]fencepost error:
* [4764]fiber-seeking backhoe:
* [4765]FidoNet:
* [4766]field circus:
* [4767]field servoid:
* [4768]Fight-o-net:
* [4769]File Attach:
* [4770]File Request:
* [4771]file signature:
* [4772]filk:
* [4773]film at 11:
* [4774]filter:
* [4775]Finagle's Law:
* [4776]fine:
* [4777]finger:
* [4778]finger trouble:
* [4779]finger-pointing syndrome:
* [4780]finn:
* [4781]firebottle:
* [4782]firefighting:
* [4783]firehose syndrome:
* [4784]firewall code:
* [4785]firewall machine:
* [4786]fireworks mode:
* [4787]firmware:
* [4788]firmy:
* [4789]fish:
* [4790]FISH queue:
* [4791]FITNR:
* [4792]fix:
* [4793]FIXME:
* [4794]flag:
* [4795]flag day:
* [4796]flaky:
* [4797]flamage:
* [4798]flame:
* [4799]flame bait:
* [4800]flame on:
* [4801]flame war:
* [4802]flamer:
* [4803]flap:
* [4804]flarp:
* [4805]flash crowd:
* [4806]flat:
* [4807]flat-ASCII:
* [4808]flat-file:
* [4809]flatten:
* [4810]flavor:
* [4811]flavorful:
* [4812]flippy:
* [4813]flood:
* [4814]flowchart:
* [4815]flower key:
* [4816]flush:
* [4817]flypage:
* [4818]Flyspeck 3:
* [4819]flytrap:
* [4820]FM:
* [4821]fnord:
* [4822]FOAF:
* [4823]FOD:
* [4824]fold case:
* [4825]followup:
* [4826]fontology:
* [4827]foo:
* [4828]foobar:
* [4829]fool:
* [4830]fool file:
* [4831]Foonly:
* [4832]footprint:
* [4833]for free:
* [4834]for the rest of us:
* [4835]for values of:
* [4836]fora:
* [4837]foreground:
* [4838]fork:
* [4839]fork bomb:
* [4840]forked:
* [4841]Fortrash:
* [4842]fortune cookie:
* [4843]forum:
* [4844]fossil:
* [4845]four-color glossies:
* [4846]frag:
* [4847]fragile:
* [4848]fred:
* [4849]Fred Foobar:
* [4850]frednet:
* [4851]free software:
* [4852]freeware:
* [4853]freeze:
* [4854]fried:
* [4855]frink:
* [4856]friode:
* [4857]fritterware:
* [4858]frob:
* [4859]frobnicate:
* [4860]frobnitz:
* [4861]frog:
* [4862]frogging:
* [4863]front end:
* [4864]frotz:
* [4865]frotzed:
* [4866]frowney:
* [4867]FRS:
* [4868]fry:
* [4869]fscking:
* [4870]FSF:
* [4871]FTP:
* [4872]-fu:
* [4873]FUBAR:
* [4874]fuck me harder:
* [4875]FUD:
* [4876]FUD wars:
* [4877]fudge:
* [4878]fudge factor:
* [4879]fuel up:
* [4880]Full Monty:
* [4881]fum:
* [4882]functino:
* [4883]funky:
* [4884]funny money:
* [4885]furrfu:
* [4886]fuzzball:

Node:face time, Next:[4887]factor, Previous:[4888]eyeball search,
Up:[4889]= F =

face time n.

[common] Time spent interacting with somebody face-to-face (as opposed
to via electronic links). "Oh, yeah, I spent some face time with him
at the last Usenix."

Node:factor, Next:[4890]fairings, Previous:[4891]face time, Up:[4892]=
F =

factor n.

See [4893]coefficient of X.

Node:fairings, Next:[4894]fall over, Previous:[4895]factor, Up:[4896]=
F =

fairings n. /fer'ingz/

[FreeBSD; orig. a typo for `fairness'] A term thrown out in discussion
whenever a completely and transparently nonsensical argument in one's
favor(?) seems called for, e,g. at the end of a really long thread for
which the outcome is no longer even cared about since everyone is now
so sick of it; or in rebuttal to another nonsensical argument ("Change
the loader to look for /kernel.pl? What about fairings?")

Node:fall over, Next:[4897]fall through, Previous:[4898]fairings,
Up:[4899]= F =

fall over vi.

[IBM] Yet another synonym for [4900]crash or [4901]lose. `Fall over
hard' equates to [4902]crash and burn.

Node:fall through, Next:[4903]fan, Previous:[4904]fall over,
Up:[4905]= F =

fall through v.

Book of the day: