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The New Hacker's Dictionary version 4.2.2 by Various editors

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(n. `fallthrough', var. `fall-through') 1. To exit a loop by
exhaustion, i.e., by having fulfilled its exit condition rather than
via a break or exception condition that exits from the middle of it.
This usage appears to be really old, dating from the 1940s and 1950s.
2. To fail a test that would have passed control to a subroutine or
some other distant portion of code. 3. In C, `fall-through' occurs
when the flow of execution in a switch statement reaches a case label
other than by jumping there from the switch header, passing a point
where one would normally expect to find a break. A trivial example:
switch (color)
case GREEN:
case PINK:
case RED:

The variant spelling /* FALL THRU */ is also common.

The effect of the above code is to do_green() when color is GREEN,
do_red() when color is RED, do_blue() on any other color other than
PINK, and (and this is the important part) do_pink() and then do_red()
when color is PINK. Fall-through is [4906]considered harmful by some,
though there are contexts (such as the coding of state machines) in
which it is natural; it is generally considered good practice to
include a comment highlighting the fall-through where one would
normally expect a break. See also [4907]Duff's device.

Node:fan, Next:[4908]fandango on core, Previous:[4909]fall through,
Up:[4910]= F =

fan n.

Without qualification, indicates a fan of science fiction, especially
one who goes to [4911]cons and tends to hang out with other fans. Many
hackers are fans, so this term has been imported from fannish slang;
however, unlike much fannish slang it is recognized by most
non-fannish hackers. Among SF fans the plural is correctly `fen', but
this usage is not automatic to hackers. "Laura reads the stuff
occasionally but isn't really a fan."

Node:fandango on core, Next:[4912]FAQ, Previous:[4913]fan, Up:[4914]=
F =

fandango on core n.

[Unix/C hackers, from the Iberian dance] In C, a wild pointer that
runs out of bounds, causing a [4915]core dump, or corrupts the
malloc(3) [4916]arena in such a way as to cause mysterious failures
later on, is sometimes said to have `done a fandango on core'. On
low-end personal machines without an MMU (or Windows boxes, which have
an MMU but use it incompetently), this can corrupt the OS itself,
causing massive lossage. Other frenetic dances such as the cha-cha or
the watusi, may be substituted. See [4917]aliasing bug,
[4918]precedence lossage, [4919]smash the stack, [4920]memory leak,
[4921]memory smash, [4922]overrun screw, [4923]core.

Node:FAQ, Next:[4924]FAQ list, Previous:[4925]fandango on core,
Up:[4926]= F =

FAQ /F-A-Q/ or /fak/ n.

[Usenet] 1. A Frequently Asked Question. 2. A compendium of
accumulated lore, posted periodically to high-volume newsgroups in an
attempt to forestall such questions. Some people prefer the term `FAQ
list' or `FAQL' /fa'kl/, reserving `FAQ' for sense 1.

This lexicon itself serves as a good example of a collection of one
kind of lore, although it is far too big for a regular FAQ posting.
Examples: "What is the proper type of NULL?" and "What's that funny
name for the # character?" are both Frequently Asked Questions.
Several FAQs refer readers to this file.

Node:FAQ list, Next:[4927]FAQL, Previous:[4928]FAQ, Up:[4929]= F =

FAQ list /F-A-Q list/ or /fak list/ n.

[common; Usenet] Syn [4930]FAQ, sense 2.

Node:FAQL, Next:[4931]faradize, Previous:[4932]FAQ list, Up:[4933]= F

FAQL /fa'kl/ n.

Syn. [4934]FAQ list.

Node:faradize, Next:[4935]farkled, Previous:[4936]FAQL, Up:[4937]= F =

faradize /far'*-di:z/ v.

[US Geological Survey] To start any hyper-addictive process or trend,
or to continue adding current to such a trend. Telling one user about
a new octo-tetris game you compiled would be a faradizing act -- in
two weeks you might find your entire department playing the faradic

Node:farkled, Next:[4938]farming, Previous:[4939]faradize, Up:[4940]=
F =

farkled /far'kld/ adj.

[DeVry Institute of Technology, Atlanta] Syn. [4941]hosed. Poss. owes
something to Yiddish `farblondjet' and/or the `Farkle Family' skits on
"Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In", a popular comedy show of the late

Node:farming, Next:[4942]fascist, Previous:[4943]farkled, Up:[4944]= F

farming n.

[Adelaide University, Australia] What the heads of a disk drive are
said to do when they plow little furrows in the magnetic media.
Associated with a [4945]crash. Typically used as follows: "Oh no, the
machine has just crashed; I hope the hard drive hasn't gone
[4946]farming again." No longer common; modern drives automatically
park their heads in a safe zone on power-down, so it takes a real
mechanical problem to induce this.

Node:fascist, Next:[4947]fat electrons, Previous:[4948]farming,
Up:[4949]= F =

fascist adj.

1. [common] Said of a computer system with excessive or annoying
security barriers, usage limits, or access policies. The implication
is that said policies are preventing hackers from getting interesting
work done. The variant `fascistic' seems to have been preferred at
MIT, poss. by analogy with `touristic' (see [4950]tourist or under the
influence of German/Yiddish `faschistisch'). 2. In the design of
languages and other software tools, `the fascist alternative' is the
most restrictive and structured way of capturing a particular
function; the implication is that this may be desirable in order to
simplify the implementation or provide tighter error checking. Compare
[4951]bondage-and-discipline language, although that term is global
rather than local.

Node:fat electrons, Next:[4952]fat-finger, Previous:[4953]fascist,
Up:[4954]= F =

fat electrons n.

Old-time hacker David Cargill's theory on the causation of computer
glitches. Your typical electric utility draws its line current out of
the big generators with a pair of coil taps located near the top of
the dynamo. When the normal tap brushes get dirty, they take them off
line to clean them up, and use special auxiliary taps on the bottom of
the coil. Now, this is a problem, because when they do that they get
not ordinary or `thin' electrons, but the fat'n'sloppy electrons that
are heavier and so settle to the bottom of the generator. These flow
down ordinary wires just fine, but when they have to turn a sharp
corner (as in an integrated-circuit via), they're apt to get stuck.
This is what causes computer glitches. [Fascinating. Obviously, fat
electrons must gain mass by [4955]bogon absorption --ESR] Compare
[4956]bogon, [4957]magic smoke.

Node:fat-finger, Next:[4958]faulty, Previous:[4959]fat electrons,
Up:[4960]= F =

fat-finger vt.

1. To introduce a typo while editing in such a way that the resulting
manglification of a configuration file does something useless,
damaging, or wildly unexpected. "NSI fat-fingered their DNS zone file
and took half the net down again." 2. More generally, any typo that
produces dramatically bad results.

Node:faulty, Next:[4961]fd leak, Previous:[4962]fat-finger, Up:[4963]=
F =

faulty adj.

Non-functional; buggy. Same denotation as [4964]bletcherous,
[4965]losing, q.v., but the connotation is much milder.

Node:fd leak, Next:[4966]fear and loathing, Previous:[4967]faulty,
Up:[4968]= F =

fd leak /F-D leek/ n.

A kind of programming bug analogous to a [4969]core leak, in which a
program fails to close file descriptors (`fd's) after file operations
are completed, and thus eventually runs out of them. See [4970]leak.

Node:fear and loathing, Next:[4971]feature, Previous:[4972]fd leak,
Up:[4973]= F =

fear and loathing n.

[from Hunter S. Thompson] A state inspired by the prospect of dealing
with certain real-world systems and standards that are totally
[4974]brain-damaged but ubiquitous -- Intel 8086s, or [4975]COBOL, or
[4976]EBCDIC, or any [4977]IBM machine bigger than a workstation.
"Ack! They want PCs to be able to talk to the AI machine. Fear and
loathing time!"

Node:feature, Next:[4978]feature creature, Previous:[4979]fear and
loathing, Up:[4980]= F =

feature n.

1. [common] A good property or behavior (as of a program). Whether it
was intended or not is immaterial. 2. [common] An intended property or
behavior (as of a program). Whether it is good or not is immaterial
(but if bad, it is also a [4981]misfeature). 3. A surprising property
or behavior; in particular, one that is purposely inconsistent because
it works better that way -- such an inconsistency is therefore a
[4982]feature and not a [4983]bug. This kind of feature is sometimes
called a [4984]miswart; see that entry for a classic example. 4. A
property or behavior that is gratuitous or unnecessary, though perhaps
also impressive or cute. For example, one feature of Common LISP's
format function is the ability to print numbers in two different
Roman-numeral formats (see [4985]bells whistles and gongs). 5. A
property or behavior that was put in to help someone else but that
happens to be in your way. 6. [common] A bug that has been documented.
To call something a feature sometimes means the author of the program
did not consider the particular case, and that the program responded
in a way that was unexpected but not strictly incorrect. A standard
joke is that a bug can be turned into a [4986]feature simply by
documenting it (then theoretically no one can complain about it
because it's in the manual), or even by simply declaring it to be
good. "That's not a bug, that's a feature!" is a common catchphrase.
See also [4987]feetch feetch, [4988]creeping featurism, [4989]wart,
[4990]green lightning.

The relationship among bugs, features, misfeatures, warts, and
miswarts might be clarified by the following hypothetical exchange
between two hackers on an airliner:

A: "This seat doesn't recline."

B: "That's not a bug, that's a feature. There is an emergency exit
door built around the window behind you, and the route has to be kept

A: "Oh. Then it's a misfeature; they should have increased the spacing
between rows here."

B: "Yes. But if they'd increased spacing in only one section it would
have been a wart -- they would've had to make nonstandard-length
ceiling panels to fit over the displaced seats."

A: "A miswart, actually. If they increased spacing throughout they'd
lose several rows and a chunk out of the profit margin. So unequal
spacing would actually be the Right Thing."

B: "Indeed."

`Undocumented feature' is a common, allegedly humorous euphemism for a
[4991]bug. There's a related joke that is sometimes referred to as the
"one-question geek test". You say to someone "I saw a Volkswagen
Beetle today with a vanity license plate that read FEATURE". If he/she
laughs, he/she is a geek (see [4992]computer geek, sense 2).

Node:feature creature, Next:[4993]feature creep,
Previous:[4994]feature, Up:[4995]= F =

feature creature n.

[poss. fr. slang `creature feature' for a horror movie] 1. One who
loves to add features to designs or programs, perhaps at the expense
of coherence, concision, or [4996]taste. 2. Alternately, a mythical
being that induces otherwise rational programmers to perpetrate such
crocks. See also [4997]feeping creaturism, [4998]creeping featurism.

Node:feature creep, Next:[4999]feature key, Previous:[5000]feature
creature, Up:[5001]= F =

feature creep n.

[common] The result of [5002]creeping featurism, as in "Emacs has a
bad case of feature creep".

Node:feature key, Next:[5003]feature shock, Previous:[5004]feature
creep, Up:[5005]= F =

feature key n.

[common] The Macintosh key with the cloverleaf graphic on its keytop;
sometimes referred to as `flower', `pretzel', `clover', `propeller',
`beanie' (an apparent reference to the major feature of a propeller
beanie), [5006]splat, `open-apple' or (officially, in Mac
documentation) the `command key'. In French, the term `papillon'
(butterfly) has been reported. The proliferation of terms for this
creature may illustrate one subtle peril of iconic interfaces.

Many people have been mystified by the cloverleaf-like symbol that
appears on the feature key. Its oldest name is `cross of St. Hannes',
but it occurs in pre-Christian Viking art as a decorative motif.
Throughout Scandinavia today the road agencies use it to mark sites of
historical interest. Apple picked up the symbol from an early Mac
developer who happened to be Swedish. Apple documentation gives the
translation "interesting feature"!

There is some dispute as to the proper (Swedish) name of this symbol.
It technically stands for the word `sevärdhet' (thing worth seeing);
many of these are old churches. Some Swedes report as an idiom for the
sign the word `kyrka', cognate to English `church' and pronounced
(roughly) /chur'ka/ in modern Swedish. Others say this is nonsense.
Other idioms reported for the sign are `runa' (rune) or `runsten'
/roon'stn/ (runestone), derived from the fact that many of the
interesting features are Viking rune-stones. The term `fornminne'
/foorn'min'*/ (relic of antiquity, ancient monument) is also reported,
especially among those who think that the Mac itself is a relic of

Node:feature shock, Next:[5007]featurectomy, Previous:[5008]feature
key, Up:[5009]= F =

feature shock n.

[from Alvin Toffler's book title "Future Shock"] A user's (or
programmer's!) confusion when confronted with a package that has too
many features and poor introductory material.

Node:featurectomy, Next:[5010]feep, Previous:[5011]feature shock,
Up:[5012]= F =

featurectomy /fee`ch*r-ek't*-mee/ n.

The act of removing a feature from a program. Featurectomies come in
two flavors, the `righteous' and the `reluctant'. Righteous
featurectomies are performed because the remover believes the program
would be more elegant without the feature, or there is already an
equivalent and better way to achieve the same end. (Doing so is not
quite the same thing as removing a [5013]misfeature.) Reluctant
featurectomies are performed to satisfy some external constraint such
as code size or execution speed.

Node:feep, Next:[5014]feeper, Previous:[5015]featurectomy, Up:[5016]=
F =

feep /feep/

1. n. The soft electronic `bell' sound of a display terminal (except
for a VT-52); a beep (in fact, the microcomputer world seems to prefer
[5017]beep). 2. vi. To cause the display to make a feep sound. ASR-33s
(the original TTYs) do not feep; they have mechanical bells that ring.
Alternate forms: [5018]beep, `bleep', or just about anything suitably
onomatopoeic. (Jeff MacNelly, in his comic strip "Shoe", uses the word
`eep' for sounds made by computer terminals and video games; this is
perhaps the closest written approximation yet.) The term `breedle' was
sometimes heard at SAIL, where the terminal bleepers are not
particularly soft (they sound more like the musical equivalent of a
raspberry or Bronx cheer; for a close approximation, imagine the sound
of a Star Trek communicator's beep lasting for five seconds). The
`feeper' on a VT-52 has been compared to the sound of a '52 Chevy
stripping its gears. See also [5019]ding.

Node:feeper, Next:[5020]feeping creature, Previous:[5021]feep,
Up:[5022]= F =

feeper /fee'pr/ n.

The device in a terminal or workstation (usually a loudspeaker of some
kind) that makes the [5023]feep sound.

Node:feeping creature, Next:[5024]feeping creaturism,
Previous:[5025]feeper, Up:[5026]= F =

feeping creature n.

[from [5027]feeping creaturism] An unnecessary feature; a bit of
[5028]chrome that, in the speaker's judgment, is the camel's nose for
a whole horde of new features.

Node:feeping creaturism, Next:[5029]feetch feetch,
Previous:[5030]feeping creature, Up:[5031]= F =

feeping creaturism /fee'ping kree`ch*r-izm/ n.

A deliberate spoonerism for [5032]creeping featurism, meant to imply
that the system or program in question has become a misshapen creature
of hacks. This term isn't really well defined, but it sounds so neat
that most hackers have said or heard it. It is probably reinforced by
an image of terminals prowling about in the dark making their
customary noises.

Node:feetch feetch, Next:[5033]fence, Previous:[5034]feeping
creaturism, Up:[5035]= F =

feetch feetch /feech feech/ interj.

If someone tells you about some new improvement to a program, you
might respond: "Feetch, feetch!" The meaning of this depends
critically on vocal inflection. With enthusiasm, it means something
like "Boy, that's great! What a great hack!" Grudgingly or with
obvious doubt, it means "I don't know; it sounds like just one more
unnecessary and complicated thing". With a tone of resignation, it
means, "Well, I'd rather keep it simple, but I suppose it has to be

Node:fence, Next:[5036]fencepost error, Previous:[5037]feetch feetch,
Up:[5038]= F =

fence n. 1.

A sequence of one or more distinguished ([5039]out-of-band) characters
(or other data items), used to delimit a piece of data intended to be
treated as a unit (the computer-science literature calls this a
`sentinel'). The NUL (ASCII 0000000) character that terminates strings
in C is a fence. Hex FF is also (though slightly less frequently) used
this way. See [5040]zigamorph. 2. An extra data value inserted in an
array or other data structure in order to allow some normal test on
the array's contents also to function as a termination test. For
example, a highly optimized routine for finding a value in an array
might artificially place a copy of the value to be searched for after
the last slot of the array, thus allowing the main search loop to
search for the value without having to check at each pass whether the
end of the array had been reached. 3. [among users of optimizing
compilers] Any technique, usually exploiting knowledge about the
compiler, that blocks certain optimizations. Used when explicit
mechanisms are not available or are overkill. Typically a hack: "I
call a dummy procedure there to force a flush of the optimizer's
register-coloring info" can be expressed by the shorter "That's a
fence procedure".

Node:fencepost error, Next:[5041]fiber-seeking backhoe,
Previous:[5042]fence, Up:[5043]= F =

fencepost error n.

1. [common] A problem with the discrete equivalent of a boundary
condition, often exhibited in programs by iterative loops. From the
following problem: "If you build a fence 100 feet long with posts 10
feet apart, how many posts do you need?" (Either 9 or 11 is a better
answer than the obvious 10.) For example, suppose you have a long list
or array of items, and want to process items m through n; how many
items are there? The obvious answer is n - m, but that is off by one;
the right answer is n - m + 1. A program that used the `obvious'
formula would have a fencepost error in it. See also [5044]zeroth and
[5045]off-by-one error, and note that not all off-by-one errors are
fencepost errors. The game of Musical Chairs involves a catastrophic
off-by-one error where N people try to sit in N - 1 chairs, but it's
not a fencepost error. Fencepost errors come from counting things
rather than the spaces between them, or vice versa, or by neglecting
to consider whether one should count one or both ends of a row. 2.
[rare] An error induced by unexpected regularities in input values,
which can (for instance) completely thwart a theoretically efficient
binary tree or hash table implementation. (The error here involves the
difference between expected and worst case behaviors of an algorithm.)

Node:fiber-seeking backhoe, Next:[5046]FidoNet,
Previous:[5047]fencepost error, Up:[5048]= F =

fiber-seeking backhoe

[common among backbone ISP personnel] Any of a genus of large,
disruptive machines which routinely cut critical backbone links,
creating Internet outages and [5049]packet over air problems.

Node:FidoNet, Next:[5050]field circus, Previous:[5051]fiber-seeking
backhoe, Up:[5052]= F =

FidoNet n.

A worldwide hobbyist network of personal computers which exchanges
mail, discussion groups, and files. Founded in 1984 and originally
consisting only of IBM PCs and compatibles, FidoNet now includes such
diverse machines as Apple ][s, Ataris, Amigas, and Unix systems. For
years FidoNet actually grew faster than Usenet, but the advent of
cheap Internet access probably means its days are numbered. In early
1999 Fidonet has approximately 30,000 nodes, down from 38K in 1996.

Node:field circus, Next:[5053]field servoid, Previous:[5054]FidoNet,
Up:[5055]= F =

field circus n.

[a derogatory pun on `field service'] The field service organization
of any hardware manufacturer, but originally [5056]DEC. There is an
entire genre of jokes about field circus engineers:
Q: How can you recognize a field circus engineer
with a flat tire?
A: He's changing one tire at a time to see which one is flat.

Q: How can you recognize a field circus engineer
who is out of gas?
A: He's changing one tire at a time to see which one is flat.

Q: How can you tell it's your field circus engineer?
A: The spare is flat, too.

[See [5057]Easter egging for additional insight on these jokes.]

There is also the `Field Circus Cheer' (from the old [5058]plan file
for DEC on MIT-AI):
Maynard! Maynard!
Don't mess with us!
We're mean and we're tough!
If you get us confused
We'll screw up your stuff.

(DEC's service HQ, still extant under the Compaq regime, is located in
Maynard, Massachusetts.)

Node:field servoid, Next:[5059]Fight-o-net, Previous:[5060]field
circus, Up:[5061]= F =

field servoid [play on `android'] /fee'ld ser'voyd/ n.

Representative of a field service organization (see [5062]field
circus). This has many of the implications of [5063]droid.

Node:Fight-o-net, Next:[5064]File Attach, Previous:[5065]field
servoid, Up:[5066]= F =

Fight-o-net n.

[FidoNet] Deliberate distortion of [5067]FidoNet, often applied after
a flurry of [5068]flamage in a particular [5069]echo, especially the
SYSOP echo or Fidonews (see [5070]'Snooze).

Node:File Attach, Next:[5071]File Request, Previous:[5072]Fight-o-net,
Up:[5073]= F =

File Attach [FidoNet]

1. n. A file sent along with a mail message from one FidoNet to
another. 2. vt. Sending someone a file by using the File Attach option
in a FidoNet mailer.

Node:File Request, Next:[5074]file signature, Previous:[5075]File
Attach, Up:[5076]= F =

File Request [FidoNet]

1. n. The [5077]FidoNet equivalent of [5078]FTP, in which one FidoNet
system automatically dials another and [5079]snarfs one or more files.
Often abbreviated `FReq'; files are often announced as being
"available for FReq" in the same way that files are announced as being
"available for/by anonymous FTP" on the Internet. 2. vt. The act of
getting a copy of a file by using the File Request option of the
FidoNet mailer.

Node:file signature, Next:[5080]filk, Previous:[5081]File Request,
Up:[5082]= F =

file signature n.

A [5083]magic number, sense 3.

Node:filk, Next:[5084]film at 11, Previous:[5085]file signature,
Up:[5086]= F =

filk /filk/ n.,v.

[from SF fandom, where a typo for `folk' was adopted as a new word] A
popular or folk song with lyrics revised or completely new lyrics
and/or music, intended for humorous effect when read, and/or to be
sung late at night at SF conventions. There is a flourishing subgenre
of these called `computer filks', written by hackers and often
containing rather sophisticated technical humor. See [5087]double
bucky for an example. Compare [5088]grilf, [5089]hing, [5090]pr0n, and

Node:film at 11, Next:[5092]filter, Previous:[5093]filk, Up:[5094]= F

film at 11

[MIT: in parody of TV newscasters] 1. Used in conversation to announce
ordinary events, with a sarcastic implication that these events are
earth-shattering. "[5095]ITS crashes; film at 11." "Bug found in
scheduler; film at 11." 2. Also widely used outside MIT to indicate
that additional information will be available at some future time,
without the implication of anything particularly ordinary about the
referenced event. For example, "The mail file server died this
morning; we found garbage all over the root directory. Film at 11."
would indicate that a major failure had occurred but that the people
working on it have no additional information about it as yet; use of
the phrase in this way suggests gently that the problem is liable to
be fixed more quickly if the people doing the fixing can spend time
doing the fixing rather than responding to questions, the answers to
which will appear on the normal "11:00 news", if people will just be

The variant "MPEGs at 11" has recently been cited (MPEG is a
digital-video format.)

Node:filter, Next:[5096]Finagle's Law, Previous:[5097]film at 11,
Up:[5098]= F =

filter n.

[very common; orig. [5099]Unix, now also in [5100]MS-DOS] A program
that processes an input data stream into an output data stream in some
well-defined way, and does no I/O to anywhere else except possibly on
error conditions; one designed to be used as a stage in a `pipeline'
(see [5101]plumbing). Compare [5102]sponge.

Node:Finagle's Law, Next:[5103]fine, Previous:[5104]filter, Up:[5105]=
F =

Finagle's Law n.

The generalized or `folk' version of [5106]Murphy's Law, fully named
"Finagle's Law of Dynamic Negatives" and usually rendered "Anything
that can go wrong, will". One variant favored among hackers is "The
perversity of the Universe tends towards a maximum" (but see also
[5107]Hanlon's Razor). The label `Finagle's Law' was popularized by SF
author Larry Niven in several stories depicting a frontier culture of
asteroid miners; this `Belter' culture professed a religion and/or
running joke involving the worship of the dread god Finagle and his
mad prophet Murphy. Some technical and scientific cultures (e.g.,
paleontologists) know it under the name `Sod's Law'; this usage may be
more common in Great Britain.

Node:fine, Next:[5108]finger, Previous:[5109]Finagle's Law, Up:[5110]=
F =

fine adj.

[WPI] Good, but not good enough to be [5111]cuspy. The word `fine' is
used elsewhere, of course, but without the implicit comparison to the
higher level implied by [5112]cuspy.

Node:finger, Next:[5113]finger trouble, Previous:[5114]fine,
Up:[5115]= F =


[WAITS, via BSD Unix] 1. n. A program that displays information about
a particular user or all users logged on the system, or a remote
system. Typically shows full name, last login time, idle time,
terminal line, and terminal location (where applicable). May also
display a [5116]plan file left by the user (see also [5117]Hacking X
for Y). 2. vt. To apply finger to a username. 3. vt. By extension, to
check a human's current state by any means. "Foodp?" "T!" "OK, finger
Lisa and see if she's idle." 4. Any picture (composed of ASCII
characters) depicting `the finger'. Originally a humorous component of
one's plan file to deter the curious fingerer (sense 2), it has
entered the arsenal of some [5118]flamers.

Node:finger trouble, Next:[5119]finger-pointing syndrome,
Previous:[5120]finger, Up:[5121]= F =

finger trouble n.

Mistyping, typos, or generalized keyboard incompetence (this is
surprisingly common among hackers, given the amount of time they spend
at keyboards). "I keep putting colons at the end of statements instead
of semicolons", "Finger trouble again, eh?".

Node:finger-pointing syndrome, Next:[5122]finn, Previous:[5123]finger
trouble, Up:[5124]= F =

finger-pointing syndrome n.

All-too-frequent result of bugs, esp. in new or experimental
configurations. The hardware vendor points a finger at the software.
The software vendor points a finger at the hardware. All the poor
users get is the finger.

Node:finn, Next:[5125]firebottle, Previous:[5126]finger-pointing
syndrome, Up:[5127]= F =

finn v.

[IRC] To pull rank on somebody based on the amount of time one has
spent on [5128]IRC. The term derives from the fact that IRC was
originally written in Finland in 1987. There may be some influence
from the `Finn' character in William Gibson's seminal cyberpunk novel
"Count Zero", who at one point says to another (much younger)
character "I have a pair of shoes older than you are, so shut up!"

Node:firebottle, Next:[5129]firefighting, Previous:[5130]finn,
Up:[5131]= F =

firebottle n.obs.

A large, primitive, power-hungry active electrical device, similar in
function to a FET but constructed out of glass, metal, and vacuum.
Characterized by high cost, low density, low reliability,
high-temperature operation, and high power dissipation. Sometimes
mistakenly called a `tube' in the U.S. or a `valve' in England;
another hackish term is [5132]glassfet.

Node:firefighting, Next:[5133]firehose syndrome,
Previous:[5134]firebottle, Up:[5135]= F =

firefighting n.

1. What sysadmins have to do to correct sudden operational problems.
An opposite of hacking. "Been hacking your new newsreader?" "No, a
power glitch hosed the network and I spent the whole afternoon
fighting fires." 2. The act of throwing lots of manpower and late
nights at a project, esp. to get it out before deadline. See also
[5136]gang bang, [5137]Mongolian Hordes technique; however, the term
`firefighting' connotes that the effort is going into chasing bugs
rather than adding features.

Node:firehose syndrome, Next:[5138]firewall code,
Previous:[5139]firefighting, Up:[5140]= F =

firehose syndrome n.

In mainstream folklore it is observed that trying to drink from a
firehose can be a good way to rip your lips off. On computer networks,
the absence or failure of flow control mechanisms can lead to
situations in which the sending system sprays a massive flood of
packets at an unfortunate receiving system, more than it can handle.
Compare [5141]overrun, [5142]buffer overflow.

Node:firewall code, Next:[5143]firewall machine,
Previous:[5144]firehose syndrome, Up:[5145]= F =

firewall code n.

1. The code you put in a system (say, a telephone switch) to make sure
that the users can't do any damage. Since users always want to be able
to do everything but never want to suffer for any mistakes, the
construction of a firewall is a question not only of defensive coding
but also of interface presentation, so that users don't even get
curious about those corners of a system where they can burn
themselves. 2. Any sanity check inserted to catch a [5146]can't happen
error. Wise programmers often change code to fix a bug twice: once to
fix the bug, and once to insert a firewall which would have arrested
the bug before it did quite as much damage.

Node:firewall machine, Next:[5147]fireworks mode,
Previous:[5148]firewall code, Up:[5149]= F =

firewall machine n.

A dedicated gateway machine with special security precautions on it,
used to service outside network connections and dial-in lines. The
idea is to protect a cluster of more loosely administered machines
hidden behind it from [5150]crackers. The typical firewall is an
inexpensive micro-based Unix box kept clean of critical data, with a
bunch of modems and public network ports on it but just one carefully
watched connection back to the rest of the cluster. The special
precautions may include threat monitoring, callback, and even a
complete [5151]iron box keyable to particular incoming IDs or activity
patterns. Syn. [5152]flytrap, [5153]Venus flytrap.

[When first coined in the mid-1980s this term was pure jargon. Now
(1999) it is techspeak, and has been retained only as an example of
uptake --ESR]

Node:fireworks mode, Next:[5154]firmware, Previous:[5155]firewall
machine, Up:[5156]= F =

fireworks mode n.

1. The mode a machine is sometimes said to be in when it is performing
a [5157]crash and burn operation. 2. There is (or was) a more specific
meaning of this term in the Amiga community. The word fireworks
described the effects of a particularly serious crash which prevented
the video pointer(s) from getting reset at the start of the vertical
blank. This caused the DAC to scroll through the entire contents of
CHIP (video or video+CPU) memory. Since each bit plane would scroll
separately this was quite a spectacular effect.

Node:firmware, Next:[5158]firmy, Previous:[5159]fireworks mode,
Up:[5160]= F =

firmware /ferm'weir/ n.

Embedded software contained in EPROM or flash memory. It isn't quite
hardware, but at least doesn't have to be loaded from a disk like
regular software. Hacker usage differs from straight techspeak in that
hackers don't normally apply it to stuff that you can't possibly get
at, such as the program that runs a pocket calculator. Instead, it
implies that the firmware could be changed, even if doing so would
mean opening a box and plugging in a new chip. A computer's BIOS is
the classic example, although nowadays there is firmware in disk
controllers, modems, video cards and even CD-ROM drives.

Node:firmy, Next:[5161]fish, Previous:[5162]firmware, Up:[5163]= F =

firmy /fer'mee/ n.

Syn. [5164]stiffy (a 3.5-inch floppy disk).

Node:fish, Next:[5165]FISH queue, Previous:[5166]firmy, Up:[5167]= F =

fish n.

[Adelaide University, Australia] 1. Another [5168]metasyntactic
variable. See [5169]foo. Derived originally from the Monty Python skit
in the middle of "The Meaning of Life" entitled "Find the Fish". 2. A
pun for `microfiche'. A microfiche file cabinet may be referred to as
a `fish tank'.

Node:FISH queue, Next:[5170]FITNR, Previous:[5171]fish, Up:[5172]= F =

FISH queue n.

[acronym, by analogy with FIFO (First In, First Out)] `First In, Still
Here'. A joking way of pointing out that processing of a particular
sequence of events or requests has stopped dead. Also `FISH mode' and
`FISHnet'; the latter may be applied to any network that is running
really slowly or exhibiting extreme flakiness.

Node:FITNR, Next:[5173]fix, Previous:[5174]FISH queue, Up:[5175]= F =

FITNR // adj.

[Thinking Machines, Inc.] Fixed In The Next Release. A written-only
notation attached to bug reports. Often wishful thinking.

Node:fix, Next:[5176]FIXME, Previous:[5177]FITNR, Up:[5178]= F =

fix n.,v.

What one does when a problem has been reported too many times to be

Node:FIXME, Next:[5179]flag, Previous:[5180]fix, Up:[5181]= F =

FIXME imp.

[common] A standard tag often put in C comments near a piece of code
that needs work. The point of doing so is that a grep or a similar
pattern-matching tool can find all such places quickly.
/* FIXME: note this is common in [5182]GNU code. */

Compare [5183]XXX.

Node:flag, Next:[5184]flag day, Previous:[5185]FIXME, Up:[5186]= F =

flag n.

[very common] A variable or quantity that can take on one of two
values; a bit, particularly one that is used to indicate one of two
outcomes or is used to control which of two things is to be done.
"This flag controls whether to clear the screen before printing the
message." "The program status word contains several flag bits." Used
of humans analogously to [5187]bit. See also [5188]hidden flag,
[5189]mode bit.

Node:flag day, Next:[5190]flaky, Previous:[5191]flag, Up:[5192]= F =

flag day n.

A software change that is neither forward- nor backward-compatible,
and which is costly to make and costly to reverse. "Can we install
that without causing a flag day for all users?" This term has nothing
to do with the use of the word [5193]flag to mean a variable that has
two values. It came into use when a massive change was made to the
[5194]Multics timesharing system to convert from the short-lived 1965
version of the ASCII code to the 1967 version (in draft at the time);
this was scheduled for Flag Day (a U.S. holiday), June 14, 1966. The
actual change moved the code point for the ASCII newline character;
this required that all of the Multics source code, documentation, and
device drivers be changed simultaneously. See also [5195]backward

Node:flaky, Next:[5196]flamage, Previous:[5197]flag day, Up:[5198]= F

flaky adj.

(var sp. `flakey') Subject to frequent [5199]lossage. This use is of
course related to the common slang use of the word to describe a
person as eccentric, crazy, or just unreliable. A system that is flaky
is working, sort of -- enough that you are tempted to try to use it --
but fails frequently enough that the odds in favor of finishing what
you start are low. Commonwealth hackish prefers [5200]dodgy or

Node:flamage, Next:[5202]flame, Previous:[5203]flaky, Up:[5204]= F =

flamage /flay'm*j/ n.

[very common] Flaming verbiage, esp. high-noise, low-signal postings
to [5205]Usenet or other electronic [5206]fora. Often in the phrase
`the usual flamage'. `Flaming' is the act itself; `flamage' the
content; a `flame' is a single flaming message. See [5207]flame, also

Node:flame, Next:[5209]flame bait, Previous:[5210]flamage, Up:[5211]=
F =


[at MIT, orig. from the phrase `flaming asshole'] 1. vi. To post an
email message intended to insult and provoke. 2. vi. To speak
incessantly and/or rabidly on some relatively uninteresting subject or
with a patently ridiculous attitude. 3. vt. Either of senses 1 or 2,
directed with hostility at a particular person or people. 4. n. An
instance of flaming. When a discussion degenerates into useless
controversy, one might tell the participants "Now you're just flaming"
or "Stop all that flamage!" to try to get them to cool down (so to

The term may have been independently invented at several different
places. It has been reported from MIT, Carleton College and RPI (among
many other places) from as far back as 1969, and from the University
of Virginia in the early 1960s.

It is possible that the hackish sense of `flame' is much older than
that. The poet Chaucer was also what passed for a wizard hacker in his
time; he wrote a treatise on the astrolabe, the most advanced
computing device of the day. In Chaucer's "Troilus and Cressida",
Cressida laments her inability to grasp the proof of a particular
mathematical theorem; her uncle Pandarus then observes that it's
called "the fleminge of wrecches." This phrase seems to have been
intended in context as "that which puts the wretches to flight" but
was probably just as ambiguous in Middle English as "the flaming of
wretches" would be today. One suspects that Chaucer would feel right
at home on Usenet.

Node:flame bait, Next:[5212]flame on, Previous:[5213]flame, Up:[5214]=
F =

flame bait n.

[common] A posting intended to trigger a [5215]flame war, or one that
invites flames in reply. See also [5216]troll.

Node:flame on, Next:[5217]flame war, Previous:[5218]flame bait,
Up:[5219]= F =

flame on vi.,interj.

1. To begin to [5220]flame. The punning reference to Marvel Comics's
Human Torch is no longer widely recognized. 2. To continue to flame.
See [5221]rave, [5222]burble.

Node:flame war, Next:[5223]flamer, Previous:[5224]flame on, Up:[5225]=
F =

flame war n.

[common] (var. `flamewar') An acrimonious dispute, especially when
conducted on a public electronic forum such as [5226]Usenet.

Node:flamer, Next:[5227]flap, Previous:[5228]flame war, Up:[5229]= F =

flamer n.

[common] One who habitually [5230]flames. Said esp. of obnoxious
[5231]Usenet personalities.

Node:flap, Next:[5232]flarp, Previous:[5233]flamer, Up:[5234]= F =

flap vt.

1. [obs.] To unload a DECtape (so it goes flap, flap, flap...).
Old-time hackers at MIT tell of the days when the disk was device 0
and DEC microtapes were 1, 2,... and attempting to flap device 0 would
instead start a motor banging inside a cabinet near the disk. 2. By
extension, to unload any magnetic tape. See also [5235]macrotape.
Modern cartridge tapes no longer actually flap, but the usage has
remained. (The term could well be re-applied to DEC's TK50 cartridge
tape drive, a spectacularly misengineered contraption which makes a
loud flapping sound, almost like an old reel-type lawnmower, in one of
its many tape-eating failure modes.)

Node:flarp, Next:[5236]flash crowd, Previous:[5237]flap, Up:[5238]= F

flarp /flarp/ n.

[Rutgers University] Yet another [5239]metasyntactic variable (see
[5240]foo). Among those who use it, it is associated with a legend
that any program not containing the word `flarp' somewhere will not
work. The legend is discreetly silent on the reliability of programs
which do contain the magic word.

Node:flash crowd, Next:[5241]flat, Previous:[5242]flarp, Up:[5243]= F

flash crowd

Larry Niven's 1973 SF short story "Flash Crowd" predicted that one
consequence of cheap teleportation would be huge crowds materializing
almost instantly at the sites of interesting news stories. Twenty
years later the term passed into common use on the Internet to
describe exponential spikes in website or server usage when one passes
a certain threshold of popular interest (this may also be called
[5244]slashdot effect).

Node:flat, Next:[5245]flat-ASCII, Previous:[5246]flash crowd,
Up:[5247]= F =

flat adj.

1. [common] Lacking any complex internal structure. "That [5248]bitty
box has only a flat filesystem, not a hierarchical one." The verb form
is [5249]flatten. 2. Said of a memory architecture (like that of the
VAX or 680x0) that is one big linear address space (typically with
each possible value of a processor register corresponding to a unique
core address), as opposed to a `segmented' architecture (like that of
the 80x86) in which addresses are composed from a base-register/offset
pair (segmented designs are generally considered [5250]cretinous).

Note that sense 1 (at least with respect to filesystems) is usually
used pejoratively, while sense 2 is a [5251]Good Thing.

Node:flat-ASCII, Next:[5252]flat-file, Previous:[5253]flat, Up:[5254]=
F =

flat-ASCII adj.

[common] Said of a text file that contains only 7-bit ASCII characters
and uses only ASCII-standard control characters (that is, has no
embedded codes specific to a particular text formatter markup
language, or output device, and no [5255]meta-characters). Syn.
[5256]plain-ASCII. Compare [5257]flat-file.

Node:flat-file, Next:[5258]flatten, Previous:[5259]flat-ASCII,
Up:[5260]= F =

flat-file adj.

A [5261]flattened representation of some database or tree or network
structure as a single file from which the structure could implicitly
be rebuilt, esp. one in [5262]flat-ASCII form. See also

Node:flatten, Next:[5264]flavor, Previous:[5265]flat-file, Up:[5266]=
F =

flatten vt.

[common] To remove structural information, esp. to filter something
with an implicit tree structure into a simple sequence of leaves; also
tends to imply mapping to [5267]flat-ASCII. "This code flattens an
expression with parentheses into an equivalent [5268]canonical form."

Node:flavor, Next:[5269]flavorful, Previous:[5270]flatten, Up:[5271]=
F =

flavor n.

1. [common] Variety, type, kind. "DDT commands come in two flavors."
"These lights come in two flavors, big red ones and small green ones."
"Linux is a flavor of Unix" See [5272]vanilla. 2. The attribute that
causes something to be [5273]flavorful. Usually used in the phrase
"yields additional flavor". "This convention yields additional flavor
by allowing one to print text either right-side-up or upside-down."
See [5274]vanilla. This usage was certainly reinforced by the
terminology of quantum chromodynamics, in which quarks (the
constituents of, e.g., protons) come in six flavors (up, down,
strange, charm, top, bottom) and three colors (red, blue, green) --
however, hackish use of `flavor' at MIT predated QCD. 3. The term for
`class' (in the object-oriented sense) in the LISP Machine Flavors
system. Though the Flavors design has been superseded (notably by the
Common LISP CLOS facility), the term `flavor' is still used as a
general synonym for `class' by some LISP hackers.

Node:flavorful, Next:[5275]flippy, Previous:[5276]flavor, Up:[5277]= F

flavorful adj.

Full of [5278]flavor (sense 2); esthetically pleasing. See
[5279]random and [5280]losing for antonyms. See also the entries for
[5281]taste and [5282]elegant.

Node:flippy, Next:[5283]flood, Previous:[5284]flavorful, Up:[5285]= F

flippy /flip'ee/ n.

A single-sided floppy disk altered for double-sided use by addition of
a second write-notch, so called because it must be flipped over for
the second side to be accessible. No longer common.

Node:flood, Next:[5286]flowchart, Previous:[5287]flippy, Up:[5288]= F

flood v.

[common] 1. To overwhelm a network channel with mechanically-generated
traffic; especially used of IP, TCP/IP, UDP, or ICMP denial-of-service
attacks. 2. To dump large amounts of text onto an [5289]IRC channel.
This is especially rude when the text is uninteresting and the other
users are trying to carry on a serious conversation. Also used in a
similar sense on Usenet. 3. [Usenet] To post an unusually large number
or volume of files on a related topic.

Node:flowchart, Next:[5290]flower key, Previous:[5291]flood,
Up:[5292]= F =

flowchart n.

[techspeak] An archaic form of visual control-flow specification
employing arrows and `speech balloons' of various shapes. Hackers
never use flowcharts, consider them extremely silly, and associate
them with [5293]COBOL programmers, [5294]card wallopers, and other
lower forms of life. This attitude follows from the observations that
flowcharts (at least from a hacker's point of view) are no easier to
read than code, are less precise, and tend to fall out of sync with
the code (so that they either obfuscate it rather than explaining it,
or require extra maintenance effort that doesn't improve the code).
See also [5295]PDL, sense 1.

Node:flower key, Next:[5296]flush, Previous:[5297]flowchart,
Up:[5298]= F =

flower key n.

[Mac users] See [5299]feature key.

Node:flush, Next:[5300]flypage, Previous:[5301]flower key, Up:[5302]=
F =

flush v.

1. [common] To delete something, usually superfluous, or to abort an
operation. "All that nonsense has been flushed." 2. [Unix/C] To force
buffered I/O to disk, as with an fflush(3) call. This is not an abort
or deletion as in sense 1, but a demand for early completion! 3. To
leave at the end of a day's work (as opposed to leaving for a meal).
"I'm going to flush now." "Time to flush." 4. To exclude someone from
an activity, or to ignore a person.

`Flush' was standard ITS terminology for aborting an output operation;
one spoke of the text that would have been printed, but was not, as
having been flushed. It is speculated that this term arose from a
vivid image of flushing unwanted characters by hosing down the
internal output buffer, washing the characters away before they could
be printed. The Unix/C usage, on the other hand, was propagated by the
fflush(3) call in C's standard I/O library (though it is reported to
have been in use among BLISS programmers at [5303]DEC and on Honeywell
and IBM machines as far back as 1965). Unix/C hackers found the ITS
usage confusing, and vice versa.

Node:flypage, Next:[5304]Flyspeck 3, Previous:[5305]flush, Up:[5306]=
F =

flypage /fli:'payj/ n.

(alt. `fly page') A [5307]banner, sense 1.

Node:Flyspeck 3, Next:[5308]flytrap, Previous:[5309]flypage,
Up:[5310]= F =

Flyspeck 3 n.

Standard name for any font that is so tiny as to be unreadable (by
analogy with names like `Helvetica 10' for 10-point Helvetica). Legal
boilerplate is usually printed in Flyspeck 3.

Node:flytrap, Next:[5311]FM, Previous:[5312]Flyspeck 3, Up:[5313]= F =

flytrap n.

[rare] See [5314]firewall machine.

Node:FM, Next:[5315]fnord, Previous:[5316]flytrap, Up:[5317]= F =

FM /F-M/ n.

1. [common] Not `Frequency Modulation' but rather an abbreviation for
`Fucking Manual', the back-formation from [5318]RTFM. Used to refer to
the manual itself in the [5319]RTFM. "Have you seen the Networking FM
lately?" 2. Abbreviation for "Fucking Magic", used in the sense of
[5320]black magic.

Node:fnord, Next:[5321]FOAF, Previous:[5322]FM, Up:[5323]= F =

fnord n.

[from the "Illuminatus Trilogy"] 1. A word used in email and news
postings to tag utterances as surrealist mind-play or humor, esp. in
connection with [5324]Discordianism and elaborate conspiracy theories.
"I heard that David Koresh is sharing an apartment in Argentina with
Hitler. (Fnord.)" "Where can I fnord get the Principia Discordia
from?" 2. A [5325]metasyntactic variable, commonly used by hackers
with ties to [5326]Discordianism or the [5327]Church of the SubGenius.

Node:FOAF, Next:[5328]FOD, Previous:[5329]fnord, Up:[5330]= F =

FOAF // n.

[Usenet; common] Acronym for `Friend Of A Friend'. The source of an
unverified, possibly untrue story. This term was not originated by
hackers (it is used in Jan Brunvand's books on urban folklore), but is
much better recognized on Usenet and elsewhere than in mainstream

Node:FOD, Next:[5331]fold case, Previous:[5332]FOAF, Up:[5333]= F =

FOD /fod/ v.

[Abbreviation for `Finger of Death', originally a spell-name from
fantasy gaming] To terminate with extreme prejudice and with no regard
for other people. From [5334]MUDs where the wizard command `FOD
' results in the immediate and total death of ,
usually as punishment for obnoxious behavior. This usage migrated to
other circumstances, such as "I'm going to fod the process that is
burning all the cycles." Compare [5335]gun.

In aviation, FOD means Foreign Object Damage, e.g., what happens when
a jet engine sucks up a rock on the runway or a bird in flight. Finger
of Death is a distressingly apt description of what this generally
does to the engine.

Node:fold case, Next:[5336]followup, Previous:[5337]FOD, Up:[5338]= F

fold case v.

See [5339]smash case. This term tends to be used more by people who
don't mind that their tools smash case. It also connotes that case is
ignored but case distinctions in data processed by the tool in
question aren't destroyed.

Node:followup, Next:[5340]fontology, Previous:[5341]fold case,
Up:[5342]= F =

followup n.

[common] On Usenet, a [5343]posting generated in response to another
posting (as opposed to a [5344]reply, which goes by email rather than
being broadcast). Followups include the ID of the [5345]parent message
in their headers; smart news-readers can use this information to
present Usenet news in `conversation' sequence rather than
order-of-arrival. See [5346]thread.

Node:fontology, Next:[5347]foo, Previous:[5348]followup, Up:[5349]= F

fontology n.

[XEROX PARC] The body of knowledge dealing with the construction and
use of new fonts (e.g., for window systems and typesetting software).
It has been said that fontology recapitulates file-ogeny.

[Unfortunately, this reference to the embryological dictum that
"Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" is not merely a joke. On the
Macintosh, for example, System 7 has to go through contortions to
compensate for an earlier design error that created a whole different
set of abstractions for fonts parallel to `files' and `folders' --ESR]

Node:foo, Next:[5350]foobar, Previous:[5351]fontology, Up:[5352]= F =

foo /foo/

1. interj. Term of disgust. 2. [very common] Used very generally as a
sample name for absolutely anything, esp. programs and files (esp.
scratch files). 3. First on the standard list of [5353]metasyntactic
variables used in syntax examples. See also [5354]bar, [5355]baz,
[5356]qux, [5357]quux, [5358]corge, [5359]grault, [5360]garply,
[5361]waldo, [5362]fred, [5363]plugh, [5364]xyzzy, [5365]thud.

When `foo' is used in connection with `bar' it has generally traced to
the WWII-era Army slang acronym [5366]FUBAR (`Fucked Up Beyond All
Repair'), later modified to [5367]foobar. Early versions of the Jargon
File interpreted this change as a post-war bowdlerization, but it it
now seems more likely that FUBAR was itself a derivative of `foo'
perhaps influenced by German `furchtbar' (terrible) - `foobar' may
actually have been the original form.

For, it seems, the word `foo' itself had an immediate prewar history
in comic strips and cartoons. The earliest documented uses were in the
"Smokey Stover" comic strip popular in the 1930s, which frequently
included the word "foo". Bill Holman, the author of the strip, filled
it with odd jokes and personal contrivances, including other nonsense
phrases such as "Notary Sojac" and "1506 nix nix". According to the
[5368]Warner Brothers Cartoon Companion Holman claimed to have found
the word "foo" on the bottom of a Chinese figurine. This is plausible;
Chinese statuettes often have apotropaic inscriptions, and this may
have been the Chinese word `fu' (sometimes transliterated `foo'),
which can mean "happiness" when spoken with the proper tone (the
lion-dog guardians flanking the steps of many Chinese restaurants are
properly called "fu dogs"). English speakers' reception of Holman's
`foo' nonsense word was undoubtedly influenced by Yiddish `feh' and
English `fooey' and `fool'.

Holman's strip featured a firetruck called the Foomobile that rode on
two wheels. The comic strip was tremendously popular in the late
1930s, and legend has it that a manufacturer in Indiana even produced
an operable version of Holman's Foomobile. According to the
Encyclopedia of American Comics, `Foo' fever swept the U.S., finding
its way into popular songs and generating over 500 `Foo Clubs.' The
fad left `foo' references embedded in popular culture (including a
couple of appearances in Warner Brothers cartoons of 1938-39) but with
their origins rapidly forgotten.

One place they are known to have remained live is in the U.S. military
during the WWII years. In 1944-45, the term `foo fighters' was in use
by radar operators for the kind of mysterious or spurious trace that
would later be called a UFO (the older term resurfaced in popular
American usage in 1995 via the name of one of the better grunge-rock
bands). Informants connected the term to the Smokey Stover strip.

The U.S. and British militaries frequently swapped slang terms during
the war (see [5369]kluge and [5370]kludge for another important
example) Period sources reported that `FOO' became a semi-legendary
subject of WWII British-army graffiti more or less equivalent to the
American Kilroy. Where British troops went, the graffito "FOO was
here" or something similar showed up. Several slang dictionaries aver
that FOO probably came from Forward Observation Officer, but this
(like the contemporaneous "FUBAR") was probably a [5371]backronym .
Forty years later, Paul Dickson's excellent book "Words" (Dell, 1982,
ISBN 0-440-52260-7) traced "Foo" to an unspecified British naval
magazine in 1946, quoting as follows: "Mr. Foo is a mysterious Second
World War product, gifted with bitter omniscience and sarcasm."

Earlier versions of this entry suggested the possibility that hacker
usage actually sprang from "FOO, Lampoons and Parody", the title of a
comic book first issued in September 1958, a joint project of Charles
and Robert Crumb. Though Robert Crumb (then in his mid-teens) later
became one of the most important and influential artists in
underground comics, this venture was hardly a success; indeed, the
brothers later burned most of the existing copies in disgust. The
title FOO was featured in large letters on the front cover. However,
very few copies of this comic actually circulated, and students of
Crumb's `oeuvre' have established that this title was a reference to
the earlier Smokey Stover comics. The Crumbs may also have been
influenced by a short-lived Canadian parody magazine named `Foo'
published in 1951-52.

An old-time member reports that in the 1959 "Dictionary of the TMRC
Language", compiled at [5372]TMRC, there was an entry that went
something like this:

FOO: The first syllable of the sacred chant phrase "FOO MANE PADME
HUM." Our first obligation is to keep the foo counters turning.

(For more about the legendary foo counters, see [5373]TMRC.) This
definition used Bill Holman's nonsense word, only then two decades old
and demonstrably still live in popular culture and slang, to a
[5374]ha ha only serious analogy with esoteric Tibetan Buddhism.
Today's hackers would find it difficult to resist elaborating a joke
like that, and it is not likely 1959's were any less susceptible.
Almost the entire staff of what later became the MIT AI Lab was
involved with TMRC, and the word spread from there.

Node:foobar, Next:[5375]fool, Previous:[5376]foo, Up:[5377]= F =

foobar n.

[very common] Another widely used [5378]metasyntactic variable; see
[5379]foo for etymology. Probably originally propagated through
DECsystem manuals by Digital Equipment Corporation ([5380]DEC) in
1960s and early 1970s; confirmed sightings there go back to 1972.
Hackers do not generally use this to mean [5381]FUBAR in either the
slang or jargon sense. See also [5382]Fred Foobar. In RFC1639,
"FOOBAR" was made an abbreviation for "FTP Operation Over Big Address
Records", but this was an obvious [5383]backronym.

Node:fool, Next:[5384]fool file, Previous:[5385]foobar, Up:[5386]= F =

fool n.

As used by hackers, specifically describes a person who habitually
reasons from obviously or demonstrably incorrect premises and cannot
be persuaded by evidence to do otherwise; it is not generally used in
its other senses, i.e., to describe a person with a native incapacity
to reason correctly, or a clown. Indeed, in hackish experience many
fools are capable of reasoning all too effectively in executing their
errors. See also [5387]cretin, [5388]loser, [5389]fool file.

The Algol 68-R compiler used to initialize its storage to the
character string "F00LF00LF00LF00L..." because as a pointer or as a
floating point number it caused a crash, and as an integer or a
character string it was very recognizable in a dump. Sadly, one day a
very senior professor at Nottingham University wrote a program that
called him a fool. He proceeded to demonstrate the correctness of this
assertion by lobbying the university (not quite successfully) to
forbid the use of Algol on its computers. See also [5390]DEADBEEF.

Node:fool file, Next:[5391]Foonly, Previous:[5392]fool, Up:[5393]= F =

fool file n.

[Usenet] A notional repository of all the most dramatically and
abysmally stupid utterances ever. An entire subgenre of [5394]sig
blocks consists of the header "From the fool file:" followed by some
quote the poster wishes to represent as an immortal gem of dimwittery;
for this usage to be really effective, the quote has to be so
obviously wrong as to be laughable. More than one Usenetter has
achieved an unwanted notoriety by being quoted in this way.

Node:Foonly, Next:[5395]footprint, Previous:[5396]fool file,
Up:[5397]= F =

Foonly n.

1. The [5398]PDP-10 successor that was to have been built by the Super
Foonly project at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
along with a new operating system. (The name itself came from FOO NLI,
an error message emitted by a PDP-10 assembler at SAIL meaning "FOO is
Not a Legal Identifier". The intention was to leapfrog from the old
[5399]DEC timesharing system SAIL was then running to a new
generation, bypassing TENEX which at that time was the ARPANET
standard. ARPA funding for both the Super Foonly and the new operating
system was cut in 1974. Most of the design team went to DEC and
contributed greatly to the design of the PDP-10 model KL10. 2. The
name of the company formed by Dave Poole, one of the principal Super
Foonly designers, and one of hackerdom's more colorful personalities.
Many people remember the parrot which sat on Poole's shoulder and was
a regular companion. 3. Any of the machines built by Poole's company.
The first was the F-1 (a.k.a. Super Foonly), which was the
computational engine used to create the graphics in the movie "TRON".
The F-1 was the fastest PDP-10 ever built, but only one was ever made.
The effort drained Foonly of its financial resources, and the company
turned towards building smaller, slower, and much less expensive
machines. Unfortunately, these ran not the popular [5400]TOPS-20 but a
TENEX variant called Foonex; this seriously limited their market.
Also, the machines shipped were actually wire-wrapped engineering
prototypes requiring individual attention from more than usually
competent site personnel, and thus had significant reliability
problems. Poole's legendary temper and unwillingness to suffer fools
gladly did not help matters. By the time of the Jupiter project
cancellation in 1983, Foonly's proposal to build another F-1 was
eclipsed by the [5401]Mars, and the company never quite recovered. See
the [5402]Mars entry for the continuation and moral of this story.

Node:footprint, Next:[5403]for free, Previous:[5404]Foonly, Up:[5405]=
F =

footprint n.

1. The floor or desk area taken up by a piece of hardware. 2. [IBM]
The audit trail (if any) left by a crashed program (often in plural,
`footprints'). See also [5406]toeprint. 3. RAM footprint: The minimum
amount of RAM which an OS or other program takes; this figure gives
one an idea of how much will be left for other applications. How
actively this RAM is used is another matter entirely. Recent
tendencies to featuritis and software bloat can expand the RAM
footprint of an OS to the point of making it nearly unusable in
practice. [This problem is, thankfully, limited to operating systems
so stupid that they don't do virtual memory - ESR]

Node:for free, Next:[5407]for the rest of us,
Previous:[5408]footprint, Up:[5409]= F =

for free adj.

[common] Said of a capability of a programming language or hardware
that is available by its design without needing cleverness to
implement: "In APL, we get the matrix operations for free." "And owing
to the way revisions are stored in this system, you get revision trees
for free." The term usually refers to a serendipitous feature of doing
things a certain way (compare [5410]big win), but it may refer to an
intentional but secondary feature.

Node:for the rest of us, Next:[5411]for values of, Previous:[5412]for
free, Up:[5413]= F =

for the rest of us adj.

[from the Mac slogan "The computer for the rest of us"] 1. Used to
describe a [5414]spiffy product whose affordability shames other
comparable products, or (more often) used sarcastically to describe
[5415]spiffy but very overpriced products. 2. Describes a program with
a limited interface, deliberately limited capabilities,
non-orthogonality, inability to compose primitives, or any other
limitation designed to not `confuse' a naive user. This places an
upper bound on how far that user can go before the program begins to
get in the way of the task instead of helping accomplish it. Used in
reference to Macintosh software which doesn't provide obvious
capabilities because it is thought that the poor lusers might not be
able to handle them. Becomes `the rest of them' when used in
third-party reference; thus, "Yes, it is an attractive program, but
it's designed for The Rest Of Them" means a program that superficially
looks neat but has no depth beyond the surface flash. See also
[5416]WIMP environment, [5417]Macintrash, [5418]point-and-drool
interface, [5419]user-friendly.

Node:for values of, Next:[5420]fora, Previous:[5421]for the rest of
us, Up:[5422]= F =

for values of

[MIT] A common rhetorical maneuver at MIT is to use any of the
canonical [5423]random numbers as placeholders for variables. "The max
function takes 42 arguments, for arbitrary values of 42." "There are
69 ways to leave your lover, for 69 = 50." This is especially likely
when the speaker has uttered a random number and realizes that it was
not recognized as such, but even `non-random' numbers are occasionally
used in this fashion. A related joke is that pi equals 3 -- for small
values of pi and large values of 3.

Historical note: at MIT this usage has traditionally been traced to
the programming language MAD (Michigan Algorithm Decoder), an
Algol-58-like language that was the most common choice among
mainstream (non-hacker) users at MIT in the mid-60s. It inherited from
Algol-58 a control structure FOR VALUES OF X = 3, 7, 99 DO ... that
would repeat the indicated instructions for each value in the list
(unlike the usual FOR that only works for arithmetic sequences of
values). MAD is long extinct, but similar for-constructs still
flourish (e.g., in Unix's shell languages).

Node:fora, Next:[5424]foreground, Previous:[5425]for values of,
Up:[5426]= F =

fora pl.n.

Plural of [5427]forum.

Node:foreground, Next:[5428]fork, Previous:[5429]fora, Up:[5430]= F =

foreground vt.

[Unix; common] To bring a task to the top of one's [5431]stack for
immediate processing, and hackers often use it in this sense for
non-computer tasks. "If your presentation is due next week, I guess
I'd better foreground writing up the design document."

Technically, on a time-sharing system, a task executing in foreground
is one able to accept input from and return output to the user; oppose
[5432]background. Nowadays this term is primarily associated with
[5433]Unix, but it appears first to have been used in this sense on
OS/360. Normally, there is only one foreground task per terminal (or
terminal window); having multiple processes simultaneously reading the
keyboard is a good way to [5434]lose.

Node:fork, Next:[5435]fork bomb, Previous:[5436]foreground, Up:[5437]=
F =


In the open-source community, a fork is what occurs when two (or more)
versions of a software package's source code are being developed in
parallel which once shared a common code base, and these multiple
versions of the source code have irreconcilable differences between
them. This should not be confused with a development branch, which may
later be folded back into the original source code base. Nor should it
be confused with what happens when a new distribution of Linux or some
other distribution is created, because that largely assembles pieces
than can and will be used in other distributions without conflict.

Forking is uncommon; in fact, it is so uncommon that individual
instances loom large in hacker folklore. Notable in this class were
the [5438]http://www.xemacs.org/About/XEmacsVsGNUemacs.php, the
GCC/EGCS fork (later healed by a merger) and the forks among the
FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD operating systems.

Node:fork bomb, Next:[5439]forked, Previous:[5440]fork, Up:[5441]= F =

fork bomb n.

[Unix] A particular species of [5442]wabbit that can be written in one
line of C (main() {for(;;)fork();}) or shell ($0 & $0 &) on any Unix
system, or occasionally created by an egregious coding bug. A fork
bomb process `explodes' by recursively spawning copies of itself
(using the Unix system call fork(2)). Eventually it eats all the
process table entries and effectively wedges the system. Fortunately,
fork bombs are relatively easy to spot and kill, so creating one
deliberately seldom accomplishes more than to bring the just wrath of
the gods down upon the perpetrator. See also [5443]logic bomb.

Node:forked, Next:[5444]Fortrash, Previous:[5445]fork bomb, Up:[5446]=
F =

forked adj.,vi.

1. [common after 1997, esp. in the Linux community] An open-source
software project is said to have forked or be forked when the project
group fissions into two or more parts pursuing separate lines of
development (or, less commonly, when a third party unconnected to the
project group ). Forking is considered a [5447]Bad Thing - not merely
because it implies a lot of wasted effort in the future, but because
forks tend to be accompanied by a great deal of strife and acrimony
between the successor groups over issues of legitimacy, succession,
and design direction. There is serious social pressure against
forking. As a result, major forks (such as the Gnu-Emacs/XEmacs split,
the fissionings of the 386BSD group into three daughter project, and
the short-lived GCC/EGCS split) are rare enough that they are
remembered individually in hacker folklore. 2. [Unix; uncommon; prob.
influenced by a mainstream expletive] Terminally slow, or dead.
Originated when one system was slowed to a snail's pace by an
inadvertent [5448]fork bomb.

Node:Fortrash, Next:[5449]fortune cookie, Previous:[5450]forked,
Up:[5451]= F =

Fortrash /for'trash/ n.

Hackerism for the FORTRAN (FORmula TRANslator) language, referring to
its primitive design, gross and irregular syntax, limited control
constructs, and slippery, exception-filled semantics.

Node:fortune cookie, Next:[5452]forum, Previous:[5453]Fortrash,
Up:[5454]= F =

fortune cookie n.

[WAITS, via Unix; common] A random quote, item of trivia, joke, or
maxim printed to the user's tty at login time or (less commonly) at
logout time. Items from this lexicon have often been used as fortune
cookies. See [5455]cookie file.

Node:forum, Next:[5456]fossil, Previous:[5457]fortune cookie,
Up:[5458]= F =

forum n.

[Usenet, GEnie, CI$; pl. `fora' or `forums'] Any discussion group
accessible through a dial-in [5459]BBS, a [5460]mailing list, or a
[5461]newsgroup (see [5462]the network). A forum functions much like a
bulletin board; users submit [5463]postings for all to read and
discussion ensues. Contrast real-time chat via [5464]talk mode or
point-to-point personal [5465]email.

Node:fossil, Next:[5466]four-color glossies, Previous:[5467]forum,
Up:[5468]= F =

fossil n.

1. In software, a misfeature that becomes understandable only in
historical context, as a remnant of times past retained so as not to
break compatibility. Example: the retention of octal as default base
for string escapes in [5469]C, in spite of the better match of
hexadecimal to ASCII and modern byte-addressable architectures. See
[5470]dusty deck. 2. More restrictively, a feature with past but no
present utility. Example: the force-all-caps (LCASE) bits in the V7
and [5471]BSD Unix tty driver, designed for use with monocase
terminals. (In a perversion of the usual backward-compatibility goal,
this functionality has actually been expanded and renamed in some
later [5472]USG Unix releases as the IUCLC and OLCUC bits.) 3. The
FOSSIL (Fido/Opus/Seadog Standard Interface Level) driver
specification for serial-port access to replace the [5473]brain-dead
routines in the IBM PC ROMs. Fossils are used by most MS-DOS [5474]BBS
software in preference to the `supported' ROM routines, which do not
support interrupt-driven operation or setting speeds above 9600; the
use of a semistandard FOSSIL library is preferable to the [5475]bare
metal serial port programming otherwise required. Since the FOSSIL
specification allows additional functionality to be hooked in, drivers
that use the [5476]hook but do not provide serial-port access
themselves are named with a modifier, as in `video fossil'.

Node:four-color glossies, Next:[5477]frag, Previous:[5478]fossil,
Up:[5479]= F =

four-color glossies n.

1. Literature created by [5480]marketroids that allegedly contains
technical specs but which is in fact as superficial as possible
without being totally [5481]content-free. "Forget the four-color
glossies, give me the tech ref manuals." Often applied as an
indication of superficiality even when the material is printed on
ordinary paper in black and white. Four-color-glossy manuals are never
useful for solving a problem. 2. [rare] Applied by extension to manual
pages that don't contain enough information to diagnose why the
program doesn't produce the expected or desired output.

Node:frag, Next:[5482]fragile, Previous:[5483]four-color glossies,
Up:[5484]= F =

frag n.,v.

[from Vietnam-era U.S. military slang via the games Doom and Quake] 1.
To kill another player's [5485]avatar in a multiuser game. "I hold the
office Quake record with 40 frags." 2. To completely ruin something.
"Forget that power supply, the lightning strike fragged it. See also

Node:fragile, Next:[5487]fred, Previous:[5488]frag, Up:[5489]= F =

fragile adj.

Syn [5490]brittle.

Node:fred, Next:[5491]Fred Foobar, Previous:[5492]fragile, Up:[5493]=
F =

fred n.

1. The personal name most frequently used as a [5494]metasyntactic
variable (see [5495]foo). Allegedly popular because it's easy for a
non-touch-typist to type on a standard QWERTY keyboard. In Great
Britain, `fred', `jim' and `sheila' are common metasyntactic variables
because their uppercase versions were official names given to the 3
memory areas that held I/O status registers on the lovingly-remembered
BBC Microcomputer! (It is reported that SHEILA was poked the most
often.) Unlike [5496]J. Random Hacker or `J. Random Loser', the name
`fred' has no positive or negative loading (but see [5497]Dr. Fred
Mbogo). See also [5498]barney. 2. An acronym for `Flipping Ridiculous
Electronic Device'; other F-verbs may be substituted for `flipping'.

Node:Fred Foobar, Next:[5499]frednet, Previous:[5500]fred, Up:[5501]=
F =

Fred Foobar n.

[5502]J. Random Hacker's cousin. Any typical human being, more or less
synomous with `someone' except that Fred Foobar can be
[5503]backreferenced by name later on. "So Fred Foobar will enter his
phone number into the database, and it'll be archived with the others.
Months later, when Fred searches..." See also [5504]Bloggs Family and
[5505]Dr. Fred Mbogo

Node:frednet, Next:[5506]free software, Previous:[5507]Fred Foobar,
Up:[5508]= F =

frednet /fred'net/ n.

Used to refer to some [5509]random and uncommon protocol encountered
on a network. "We're implementing bridging in our router to solve the
frednet problem."

Node:free software, Next:[5510]freeware, Previous:[5511]frednet,
Up:[5512]= F =

free software n.

As defined by Richard M. Stallman and used by the Free Software
movement, this means software that gives users enough freedom to be
used by the free software community. Specifically, users must be free
to modify the software for their private use, and free to redistribute
it either with or without modifications, either commercially or
noncommercially, either gratis or charging a distribution fee. Free
software has existed since the dawn of computing; Free Software as a
movement began in 1984 with the GNU Project. See also [5513]open

Node:freeware, Next:[5514]freeze, Previous:[5515]free software,
Up:[5516]= F =

freeware n.

[common] Free software, often written by enthusiasts and distributed
by users' groups, or via electronic mail, local bulletin boards,
[5517]Usenet, or other electronic media. At one time, `freeware' was a
trademark of Andrew Fluegelman, the author of the well-known MS-DOS
comm program PC-TALK III. It wasn't enforced after his mysterious
disappearance and presumed death in 1984. See [5518]shareware,

Node:freeze, Next:[5520]fried, Previous:[5521]freeware, Up:[5522]= F =

freeze v.

To lock an evolving software distribution or document against changes
so it can be released with some hope of stability. Carries the strong
implication that the item in question will `unfreeze' at some future
date. "OK, fix that bug and we'll freeze for release."

There are more specific constructions on this term. A `feature
freeze', for example, locks out modifications intended to introduce
new features but still allows bugfixes and completion of existing
features; a `code freeze' connotes no more changes at all. At Sun
Microsystems and elsewhere, one may also hear references to `code
slush' -- that is, an almost-but-not-quite frozen state.

Node:fried, Next:[5523]frink, Previous:[5524]freeze, Up:[5525]= F =

fried adj.

1. [common] Non-working due to hardware failure; burnt out. Especially
used of hardware brought down by a `power glitch' (see [5526]glitch),
[5527]drop-outs, a short, or some other electrical event. (Sometimes
this literally happens to electronic circuits! In particular,
resistors can burn out and transformers can melt down, emitting
noxious smoke -- see [5528]friode, [5529]SED and [5530]LER. However,
this term is also used metaphorically.) Compare [5531]frotzed. 2.
[common] Of people, exhausted. Said particularly of those who continue
to work in such a state. Often used as an explanation or excuse.
"Yeah, I know that fix destroyed the file system, but I was fried when
I put it in." Esp. common in conjunction with `brain': "My brain is
fried today, I'm very short on sleep."

Node:frink, Next:[5532]friode, Previous:[5533]fried, Up:[5534]= F =

frink /frink/ v.

The unknown ur-verb, fill in your own meaning. Found esp. on the
Usenet newsgroup alt.fan.lemurs, where it is said that the lemurs know
what `frink' means, but they aren't telling. Compare [5535]gorets.

Node:friode, Next:[5536]fritterware, Previous:[5537]frink, Up:[5538]=
F =

friode /fri:'ohd/ n.

[TMRC] A reversible (that is, fused or blown) diode. Compare
[5539]fried; see also [5540]SED, [5541]LER.

Node:fritterware, Next:[5542]frob, Previous:[5543]friode, Up:[5544]= F

fritterware n.

An excess of capability that serves no productive end. The canonical
example is font-diddling software on the Mac (see [5545]macdink); the
term describes anything that eats huge amounts of time for quite
marginal gains in function but seduces people into using it anyway.
See also [5546]window shopping.

Node:frob, Next:[5547]frobnicate, Previous:[5548]fritterware,
Up:[5549]= F =

frob /frob/ 1. n.

[MIT; very common] The [5550]TMRC definition was "FROB = a protruding
arm or trunnion"; by metaphoric extension, a `frob' is any random
small thing; an object that you can comfortably hold in one hand;
something you can frob (sense 2). See [5551]frobnitz. 2. vt.
Abbreviated form of [5552]frobnicate. 3. [from the [5553]MUD world] A
command on some MUDs that changes a player's experience level (this
can be used to make wizards); also, to request [5554]wizard privileges
on the `professional courtesy' grounds that one is a wizard elsewhere.
The command is actually `frobnicate' but is universally abbreviated to
the shorter form.

Node:frobnicate, Next:[5555]frobnitz, Previous:[5556]frob, Up:[5557]=
F =

frobnicate /frob'ni-kayt/ vt.

[Poss. derived from [5558]frobnitz, and usually abbreviated to
[5559]frob, but `frobnicate' is recognized as the official full form.]
To manipulate or adjust, to tweak. One frequently frobs bits or other
2-state devices. Thus: "Please frob the light switch" (that is, flip
it), but also "Stop frobbing that clasp; you'll break it". One also
sees the construction `to frob a frob'. See [5560]tweak and

Usage: frob, twiddle, and tweak sometimes connote points along a
continuum. `Frob' connotes aimless manipulation; `twiddle' connotes
gross manipulation, often a coarse search for a proper setting;
`tweak' connotes fine-tuning. If someone is turning a knob on an
oscilloscope, then if he's carefully adjusting it, he is probably
tweaking it; if he is just turning it but looking at the screen, he is
probably twiddling it; but if he's just doing it because turning a
knob is fun, he's frobbing it. The variant `frobnosticate' has been
recently reported.

Node:frobnitz, Next:[5562]frog, Previous:[5563]frobnicate, Up:[5564]=
F =

frobnitz /frob'nits/, pl. `frobnitzem' /frob'nit-zm/ or `frobni'
/frob'ni:/ n.

[TMRC] An unspecified physical object, a widget. Also refers to
electronic black boxes. This rare form is usually abbreviated to
`frotz', or more commonly to [5565]frob. Also used are `frobnule'
(/frob'n[y]ool/) and `frobule' (/frob'yool/). Starting perhaps in
1979, `frobozz' /fr*-boz'/ (plural: `frobbotzim' /fr*-bot'zm/) has
also become very popular, largely through its exposure as a name via
[5566]Zork. These variants can also be applied to nonphysical objects,
such as data structures.

Pete Samson, compiler of the original [5567]TMRC lexicon, adds, "Under
the TMRC [railroad] layout were many storage boxes, managed (in 1958)
by David R. Sawyer. Several had fanciful designations written on them,
such as `Frobnitz Coil Oil'. Perhaps DRS intended Frobnitz to be a
proper name, but the name was quickly taken for the thing". This was
almost certainly the origin of the term.

Node:frog, Next:[5568]frogging, Previous:[5569]frobnitz, Up:[5570]= F

frog alt. `phrog'

1. interj. Term of disgust (we seem to have a lot of them). 2. Used as
a name for just about anything. See [5571]foo. 3. n. Of things, a
crock. 4. n. Of people, somewhere in between a turkey and a toad. 5.
`froggy': adj. Similar to [5572]bagbiting, but milder. "This froggy
program is taking forever to run!"

Node:frogging, Next:[5573]front end, Previous:[5574]frog, Up:[5575]= F

frogging [University of Waterloo] v.

1. Partial corruption of a text file or input stream by some bug or
consistent glitch, as opposed to random events like line noise or
media failures. Might occur, for example, if one bit of each incoming
character on a tty were stuck, so that some characters were correct
and others were not. See [5576]terminak for a historical example and
compare [5577]dread high-bit disease. 2. By extension, accidental
display of text in a mode where the output device emits special
symbols or mnemonics rather than conventional ASCII. This often
happens, for example, when using a terminal or comm program on a
device like an IBM PC with a special `high-half' character set and

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