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The New Hacker's Dictionary version 4.2.2 by Various editors

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with the bit-parity assumption wrong. A hacker sufficiently familiar
with ASCII bit patterns might be able to read the display anyway.

Node:front end, Next:[5578]frotz, Previous:[5579]frogging, Up:[5580]=
F =

front end n.

1. An intermediary computer that does set-up and filtering for another
(usually more powerful but less friendly) machine (a `back end'). 2.
What you're talking to when you have a conversation with someone who
is making replies without paying attention. "Look at the dancing
elephants!" "Uh-huh." "Do you know what I just said?" "Sorry, you were
talking to the front end." 3. Software that provides an interface to
another program `behind' it, which may not be as user-friendly.
Probably from analogy with hardware front-ends (see sense 1) that
interfaced with mainframes.

Node:frotz, Next:[5581]frotzed, Previous:[5582]front end, Up:[5583]= F

frotz /frots/

1. n. See [5584]frobnitz. 2. `mumble frotz': An interjection of
mildest disgust.

Node:frotzed, Next:[5585]frowney, Previous:[5586]frotz, Up:[5587]= F =

frotzed /frotst/ adj.

[5588]down because of hardware problems. Compare [5589]fried. A
machine that is merely frotzed may be fixable without replacing parts,
but a fried machine is more seriously damaged.

Node:frowney, Next:[5590]FRS, Previous:[5591]frotzed, Up:[5592]= F =

frowney n.

(alt. `frowney face') See [5593]emoticon.

Node:FRS, Next:[5594]fry, Previous:[5595]frowney, Up:[5596]= F =

FRS // n.,obs.

Abbreviation for "Freely Redistributable Software" which entered
general use on the Internet in 1995 after years of low-level confusion
over what exactly to call software written to be passed around and
shared (contending terms including [5597]freeware, [5598]shareware,
and `sourceware' were never universally felt to be satisfactory for
various subtle reasons). The first formal conference on freely
redistributable software was held in Cambridge, Massachussetts, in
February 1996 (sponsored by the Free Software Foundation). The
conference organizers used the FRS abbreviation heavily in its calls
for papers and other literature during 1995. The term was in steady
though not common use until 1998 and the invention of [5599]open

Node:fry, Next:[5600]fscking, Previous:[5601]FRS, Up:[5602]= F =


1. vi. To fail. Said especially of smoke-producing hardware failures.
More generally, to become non-working. Usage: never said of software,
only of hardware and humans. See [5603]fried, [5604]magic smoke. 2.
vt. To cause to fail; to [5605]roach, [5606]toast, or [5607]hose a
piece of hardware. Never used of software or humans, but compare

Node:fscking, Next:[5609]FSF, Previous:[5610]fry, Up:[5611]= F =

fscking /fus'-king/ or /eff'-seek-ing/ adj.

[Usenet; common] Fucking, in the expletive sense (it refers to the
Unix filesystem-repair command fsck(1), of which it can be said that
if you have to use it at all you are having a bad day). Originated on
[5612]scary devil monastery and the bofh.net newsgroups, but became
much more widespread following the passage of [5613]CDA. Also
occasionally seen in the variant "What the fsck?"

Node:FSF, Next:[5614]FTP, Previous:[5615]fscking, Up:[5616]= F =

FSF /F-S-F/ abbrev.

Common abbreviation (both spoken and written) for the name of the Free
Software Foundation, a nonprofit educational association formed to
support the [5617]GNU project.

Node:FTP, Next:[5618]-fu, Previous:[5619]FSF, Up:[5620]= F =

FTP /F-T-P/, not /fit'ip/

1. [techspeak] n. The File Transfer Protocol for transmitting files
between systems on the Internet. 2. vt. To [5621]beam a file using the
File Transfer Protocol. 3. Sometimes used as a generic even for file
transfers not using [5622]FTP. "Lemme get a copy of "Wuthering
Heights" ftp'd from uunet."

Node:-fu, Next:[5623]FUBAR, Previous:[5624]FTP, Up:[5625]= F =


[common; generalized from `kung-fu'] Combining form denoting expert
practice of a skill. "That's going to take some serious code-fu."
First sighted in connection with the GIMP's remote-scripting facility,
script-fu, in 1998.

Node:FUBAR, Next:[5626]fuck me harder, Previous:[5627]-fu, Up:[5628]=
F =


The Failed UniBus Address Register in a VAX. A good example of how
jargon can occasionally be snuck past the [5629]suits; see
[5630]foobar, and [5631]foo for a fuller etymology.

Node:fuck me harder, Next:[5632]FUD, Previous:[5633]FUBAR, Up:[5634]=
F =

fuck me harder excl.

Sometimes uttered in response to egregious misbehavior, esp. in
software, and esp. of misbehaviors which seem unfairly persistent (as
though designed in by the imp of the perverse). Often theatrically
elaborated: "Aiighhh! Fuck me with a piledriver and 16 feet of
curare-tipped wrought-iron fence and no lubricants!" The phrase is
sometimes heard abbreviated `FMH' in polite company.

[This entry is an extreme example of the hackish habit of coining
elaborate and evocative terms for lossage. Here we see a quite
self-conscious parody of mainstream expletives that has become a
running gag in part of the hacker culture; it illustrates the hackish
tendency to turn any situation, even one of extreme frustration, into
an intellectual game (the point being, in this case, to creatively
produce a long-winded description of the most anatomically absurd
mental image possible -- the short forms implicitly allude to all the
ridiculous long forms ever spoken). Scatological language is actually
relatively uncommon among hackers, and there was some controversy over
whether this entry ought to be included at all. As it reflects a live
usage recognizably peculiar to the hacker culture, we feel it is in
the hackish spirit of truthfulness and opposition to all forms of
censorship to record it here. --ESR & GLS]

Node:FUD, Next:[5635]FUD wars, Previous:[5636]fuck me harder,
Up:[5637]= F =

FUD /fuhd/ n.

Defined by Gene Amdahl after he left IBM to found his own company:
"FUD is the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that IBM sales people instill
in the minds of potential customers who might be considering [Amdahl]
products." The idea, of course, was to persuade them to go with safe
IBM gear rather than with competitors' equipment. This implicit
coercion was traditionally accomplished by promising that Good Things
would happen to people who stuck with IBM, but Dark Shadows loomed
over the future of competitors' equipment or software. See [5638]IBM.
After 1990 the term FUD was associated increasingly frequently with
[5639]Microsoft, and has become generalized to refer to any kind of
disinformation used as a competitive weapon.

Node:FUD wars, Next:[5640]fudge, Previous:[5641]FUD, Up:[5642]= F =

FUD wars /fuhd worz/ n.

[from [5643]FUD] Political posturing engaged in by hardware and
software vendors ostensibly committed to standardization but actually
willing to fragment the market to protect their own shares. The Unix
International vs. OSF conflict about Unix standards was one
outstanding example; Microsoft vs. Netscape vs. W3C about HTML
standards is another.

Node:fudge, Next:[5644]fudge factor, Previous:[5645]FUD wars,
Up:[5646]= F =


1. vt. To perform in an incomplete but marginally acceptable way,
particularly with respect to the writing of a program. "I didn't feel
like going through that pain and suffering, so I fudged it -- I'll fix
it later." 2. n. The resulting code.

Node:fudge factor, Next:[5647]fuel up, Previous:[5648]fudge,
Up:[5649]= F =

fudge factor n.

[common] A value or parameter that is varied in an ad hoc way to
produce the desired result. The terms `tolerance' and [5650]slop are
also used, though these usually indicate a one-sided leeway, such as a
buffer that is made larger than necessary because one isn't sure
exactly how large it needs to be, and it is better to waste a little
space than to lose completely for not having enough. A fudge factor,
on the other hand, can often be tweaked in more than one direction. A
good example is the `fuzz' typically allowed in floating-point
calculations: two numbers being compared for equality must be allowed
to differ by a small amount; if that amount is too small, a
computation may never terminate, while if it is too large, results
will be needlessly inaccurate. Fudge factors are frequently adjusted
incorrectly by programmers who don't fully understand their import.
See also [5651]coefficient of X.

Node:fuel up, Next:[5652]Full Monty, Previous:[5653]fudge factor,
Up:[5654]= F =

fuel up vi.

To eat or drink hurriedly in order to get back to hacking. "Food-p?"
"Yeah, let's fuel up." "Time for a [5655]great-wall!" See also
[5656]oriental food.

Node:Full Monty, Next:[5657]fum, Previous:[5658]fuel up, Up:[5659]= F

Full Monty n.

See [5660]monty, sense 2.

Node:fum, Next:[5661]functino, Previous:[5662]Full Monty, Up:[5663]= F

fum n.

[XEROX PARC] At PARC, often the third of the standard
[5664]metasyntactic variables (after [5665]foo and [5666]bar).
Competes with [5667]baz, which is more common outside PARC.

Node:functino, Next:[5668]funky, Previous:[5669]fum, Up:[5670]= F =

functino n.

[uncommon, U.K.; originally a serendipitous typo in 1994] A pointer to
a function in C and C++. By association with sub-atomic particles such
as the neutrino, it accurately conveys an impression of smallness (one
pointer is four bytes on most systems) and speed (hackers can and do
use arrays of functinos to replace a switch() statement).

Node:funky, Next:[5671]funny money, Previous:[5672]functino,
Up:[5673]= F =

funky adj.

Said of something that functions, but in a slightly strange, klugey
way. It does the job and would be difficult to change, so its obvious
non-optimality is left alone. Often used to describe interfaces. The
more bugs something has that nobody has bothered to fix because
workarounds are easier, the funkier it is. [5674]TECO and UUCP are
funky. The Intel i860's exception handling is extraordinarily funky.
Most standards acquire funkiness as they age. "The new mailer is
installed, but is still somewhat funky; if it bounces your mail for no
reason, try resubmitting it." "This UART is pretty funky. The data
ready line is active-high in interrupt mode and active-low in DMA

Node:funny money, Next:[5675]furrfu, Previous:[5676]funky, Up:[5677]=
F =

funny money n.

1. Notional `dollar' units of computing time and/or storage handed to
students at the beginning of a computer course; also called `play
money' or `purple money' (in implicit opposition to real or `green'
money). In New Zealand and Germany the odd usage `paper money' has
been recorded; in Germany, the particularly amusing synonym `transfer
ruble' commemmorates the funny money used for trade between COMECON
countries back when the Soviet Bloc still existed. When your funny
money ran out, your account froze and you needed to go to a professor
to get more. Fortunately, the plunging cost of timesharing cycles has
made this less common. The amounts allocated were almost invariably
too small, even for the non-hackers who wanted to slide by with
minimum work. In extreme cases, the practice led to small-scale black
markets in bootlegged computer accounts. 2. By extension, phantom
money or quantity tickets of any kind used as a resource-allocation
hack within a system. Antonym: `real money'.

Node:furrfu, Next:[5678]fuzzball, Previous:[5679]funny money,
Up:[5680]= F =

furrfu excl.

[Usenet; written, only rarely spoken] Written-only equivalent of
"Sheesh!"; it is, in fact, "sheesh" modified by [5681]rot13. Evolved
in mid-1992 as a response to notably silly postings repeating urban
myths on the Usenet newsgroup alt.folklore.urban, after some posters
complained that "Sheesh!" as a response to [5682]newbies was being
overused. See also [5683]FOAF.

Node:fuzzball, Next:[5684]G, Previous:[5685]furrfu, Up:[5686]= F =

fuzzball n.

[TCP/IP hackers] A DEC LSI-11 running a particular suite of homebrewed
software written by Dave Mills and assorted co-conspirators, used in
the early 1980s for Internet protocol testbedding and experimentation.
These were used as NSFnet backbone sites in its early 56kb-line days;
a few were still active on the Internet as late as mid-1993, doing odd
jobs such as network time service.

Node:= G =, Next:[5687]= H =, Previous:[5688]= F =, Up:[5689]The
Jargon Lexicon

= G =

* [5690]G:
* [5691]g-file:
* [5692]gabriel:
* [5693]gag:
* [5694]gang bang:
* [5695]garbage collect:
* [5696]garply:
* [5697]gas:
* [5698]gaseous:
* [5699]Gates's Law:
* [5700]gawble:
* [5701]GC:
* [5702]GCOS:
* [5703]GECOS:
* [5704]gedanken:
* [5705]geef:
* [5706]geek code:
* [5707]geek out:
* [5708]gen:
* [5709]gender mender:
* [5710]General Public Virus:
* [5711]generate:
* [5712]Genius From Mars Technique:
* [5713]gensym:
* [5714]Get a life!:
* [5715]Get a real computer!:
* [5716]GFR:
* [5717]gib:
* [5718]GIFs at 11:
* [5719]gig:
* [5720]giga-:
* [5721]GIGO:
* [5722]gilley:
* [5723]gillion:
* [5724]ginger:
* [5725]GIPS:
* [5726]glark:
* [5727]glass:
* [5728]glass tty:
* [5729]glassfet:
* [5730]glitch:
* [5731]glob:
* [5732]glork:
* [5733]glue:
* [5734]gnarly:
* [5735]GNU:
* [5736]gnubie:
* [5737]GNUMACS:
* [5738]go flatline:
* [5739]go root:
* [5740]go-faster stripes:
* [5741]GoAT:
* [5742]gobble:
* [5743]Godwin's Law:
* [5744]Godzillagram:
* [5745]golden:
* [5746]golf-ball printer:
* [5747]gonk:
* [5748]gonkulator:
* [5749]gonzo:
* [5750]Good Thing:
* [5751]gopher:
* [5752]gopher hole:
* [5753]gorets:
* [5754]gorilla arm:
* [5755]gorp:
* [5756]GOSMACS:
* [5757]Gosperism:
* [5758]gotcha:
* [5759]GPL:
* [5760]GPV:
* [5761]grault:
* [5762]gray goo:
* [5763]Great Renaming:
* [5764]Great Runes:
* [5765]Great Worm:
* [5766]great-wall:
* [5767]Green Book:
* [5768]green bytes:
* [5769]green card:
* [5770]green lightning:
* [5771]green machine:
* [5772]Green's Theorem:
* [5773]greenbar:
* [5774]grep:
* [5775]gribble:
* [5776]grilf:
* [5777]grind:
* [5778]grind crank:
* [5779]gripenet:
* [5780]gritch:
* [5781]grok:
* [5782]gronk:
* [5783]gronk out:
* [5784]gronked:
* [5785]grovel:
* [5786]grue:
* [5787]grunge:
* [5788]gubbish:
* [5789]Guido:
* [5790]guiltware:
* [5791]gumby:
* [5792]gun:
* [5793]gunch:
* [5794]gunpowder chicken:
* [5795]gurfle:
* [5796]guru:
* [5797]guru meditation:
* [5798]gweep:

Node:G, Next:[5799]g-file, Previous:[5800]fuzzball, Up:[5801]= G =

G pref.,suff.

[SI] See [5802]quantifiers.

Node:g-file, Next:[5803]gabriel, Previous:[5804]G, Up:[5805]= G =

g-file n.

[Commodore BBS culture] Any file that is written with the intention of
being read by a human rather than a machine, such as the Jargon File,
documentation, humor files, hacker lore, and technical materials.

This term survives from the nearly forgotten Commodore 64 underground
and BBS community. In the early 80s, C-Net had emerged as the most
popular C64 BBS software for systems which encouraged messaging (as
opposed to file transfer). There were three main options for files:
Program files (p-files), which served the same function as `doors' in
today's systems, UD files (the user upload/download section), and
g-files. Anything that was meant to be read was included in g-files.

Node:gabriel, Next:[5806]gag, Previous:[5807]g-file, Up:[5808]= G =

gabriel /gay'bree-*l/ n.

[for Dick Gabriel, SAIL LISP hacker and volleyball fanatic] An
unnecessary (in the opinion of the opponent) stalling tactic, e.g.,
tying one's shoelaces or combing one's hair repeatedly, asking the
time, etc. Also used to refer to the perpetrator of such tactics.
Also, `pulling a Gabriel', `Gabriel mode'.

Node:gag, Next:[5809]gang bang, Previous:[5810]gabriel, Up:[5811]= G =

gag vi.

Equivalent to [5812]choke, but connotes more disgust. "Hey, this is
FORTRAN code. No wonder the C compiler gagged." See also [5813]barf.

Node:gang bang, Next:[5814]garbage collect, Previous:[5815]gag,
Up:[5816]= G =

gang bang n.

The use of large numbers of loosely coupled programmers in an attempt
to wedge a great many features into a product in a short time. Though
there have been memorable gang bangs (e.g., that over-the-weekend
assembler port mentioned in Steven Levy's "Hackers"), most are
perpetrated by large companies trying to meet deadlines; the
inevitable result is enormous buggy masses of code entirely lacking in
[5817]orthogonality. When market-driven managers make a list of all
the features the competition has and assign one programmer to
implement each, the probability of maintaining a coherent (or even
functional) design goes infinitesimal. See also [5818]firefighting,
[5819]Mongolian Hordes technique, [5820]Conway's Law.

Node:garbage collect, Next:[5821]garply, Previous:[5822]gang bang,
Up:[5823]= G =

garbage collect vi.

(also `garbage collection', n.) See [5824]GC.

Node:garply, Next:[5825]gas, Previous:[5826]garbage collect,
Up:[5827]= G =

garply /gar'plee/ n.

[Stanford] Another metasyntactic variable (see [5828]foo); once
popular among SAIL hackers.

Node:gas, Next:[5829]gaseous, Previous:[5830]garply, Up:[5831]= G =


[as in `gas chamber'] 1. interj. A term of disgust and hatred,
implying that gas should be dispensed in generous quantities, thereby
exterminating the source of irritation. "Some loser just reloaded the
system for no reason! Gas!" 2. interj. A suggestion that someone or
something ought to be flushed out of mercy. "The system's getting
[5832]wedged every few minutes. Gas!" 3. vt. To [5833]flush (sense 1).
"You should gas that old crufty software." 4. [IBM] n. Dead space in
nonsequentially organized files that was occupied by data that has
since been deleted; the compression operation that removes it is
called `degassing' (by analogy, perhaps, with the use of the same term
in vacuum technology). 5. [IBM] n. Empty space on a disk that has been
clandestinely allocated against future need.

Node:gaseous, Next:[5834]Gates's Law, Previous:[5835]gas, Up:[5836]= G

gaseous adj.

Deserving of being [5837]gassed. Disseminated by Geoff Goodfellow
while at SRI; became particularly popular after the Moscone-Milk
killings in San Francisco, when it was learned that the defendant Dan
White (a politician who had supported Proposition 7) would get the gas
chamber under Proposition 7 if convicted of first-degree murder (he
was eventually convicted of manslaughter).

Node:Gates's Law, Next:[5838]gawble, Previous:[5839]gaseous,
Up:[5840]= G =

Gates's Law

"The speed of software halves every 18 months." This oft-cited law is
an ironic comment on the tendency of software bloat to outpace the
every-18-month doubling in hardware caopacity per dollar predicted by
[5841]Moore's Law. The reference is to Bill Gates; Microsoft is widely
considered among the worst if not the worst of the perpetrators of

Node:gawble, Next:[5842]GC, Previous:[5843]Gates's Law, Up:[5844]= G =

gawble /gaw'bl/ n.

See [5845]chawmp.

Node:GC, Next:[5846]GCOS, Previous:[5847]gawble, Up:[5848]= G =

GC /G-C/

[from LISP terminology; `Garbage Collect'] 1. vt. To clean up and
throw away useless things. "I think I'll GC the top of my desk today."
When said of files, this is equivalent to [5849]GFR. 2. vt. To
recycle, reclaim, or put to another use. 3. n. An instantiation of the
garbage collector process.

`Garbage collection' is computer-science techspeak for a particular
class of strategies for dynamically but transparently reallocating
computer memory (i.e., without requiring explicit allocation and
deallocation by higher-level software). One such strategy involves
periodically scanning all the data in memory and determining what is
no longer accessible; useless data items are then discarded so that
the memory they occupy can be recycled and used for another purpose.
Implementations of the LISP language usually use garbage collection.

In jargon, the full phrase is sometimes heard but the [5850]abbrev GC
is more frequently used because it is shorter. Note that there is an
ambiguity in usage that has to be resolved by context: "I'm going to
garbage-collect my desk" usually means to clean out the drawers, but
it could also mean to throw away or recycle the desk itself.

Node:GCOS, Next:[5851]GECOS, Previous:[5852]GC, Up:[5853]= G =

GCOS /jee'kohs/ n.

A [5854]quick-and-dirty [5855]clone of System/360 DOS that emerged
from GE around 1970; originally called GECOS (the General Electric
Comprehensive Operating System). Later kluged to support primitive
timesharing and transaction processing. After the buyout of GE's
computer division by Honeywell, the name was changed to General
Comprehensive Operating System (GCOS). Other OS groups at Honeywell
began referring to it as `God's Chosen Operating System', allegedly in
reaction to the GCOS crowd's uninformed and snotty attitude about the
superiority of their product. All this might be of zero interest,
except for two facts: (1) The GCOS people won the political war, and
this led in the orphaning and eventual death of Honeywell
[5856]Multics, and (2) GECOS/GCOS left one permanent mark on Unix.
Some early Unix systems at Bell Labs used GCOS machines for print
spooling and various other services; the field added to /etc/passwd to
carry GCOS ID information was called the `GECOS field' and survives
today as the pw_gecos member used for the user's full name and other
human-ID information. GCOS later played a major role in keeping
Honeywell a dismal also-ran in the mainframe market, and was itself
mostly ditched for Unix in the late 1980s when Honeywell began to
retire its aging [5857]big iron designs.

Node:GECOS, Next:[5858]gedanken, Previous:[5859]GCOS, Up:[5860]= G =

GECOS /jee'kohs/ n.

See [5861]GCOS.

Node:gedanken, Next:[5862]geef, Previous:[5863]GECOS, Up:[5864]= G =

gedanken /g*-dahn'kn/ adj.

Ungrounded; impractical; not well-thought-out; untried; untested.

`Gedanken' is a German word for `thought'. A thought experiment is one
you carry out in your head. In physics, the term `gedanken experiment'
is used to refer to an experiment that is impractical to carry out,
but useful to consider because it can be reasoned about theoretically.
(A classic gedanken experiment of relativity theory involves thinking
about a man in an elevator accelerating through space.) Gedanken
experiments are very useful in physics, but must be used with care.
It's too easy to idealize away some important aspect of the real world
in constructing the `apparatus'.

Among hackers, accordingly, the word has a pejorative connotation. It
is typically used of a project, especially one in artificial
intelligence research, that is written up in grand detail (typically
as a Ph.D. thesis) without ever being implemented to any great extent.
Such a project is usually perpetrated by people who aren't very good
hackers or find programming distasteful or are just in a hurry. A
`gedanken thesis' is usually marked by an obvious lack of intuition
about what is programmable and what is not, and about what does and
does not constitute a clear specification of an algorithm. See also
[5865]AI-complete, [5866]DWIM.

Node:geef, Next:[5867]geek code, Previous:[5868]gedanken, Up:[5869]= G

geef v.

[ostensibly from `gefingerpoken'] vt. Syn. [5870]mung. See also

Node:geek code, Next:[5872]geek out, Previous:[5873]geef, Up:[5874]= G

geek code n.

(also "Code of the Geeks"). A set of codes commonly used in [5875]sig
blocks to broadcast the interests, skills, and aspirations of the
poster. Features a G at the left margin followed by numerous letter
codes, often suffixed with plusses or minuses. Because many net users
are involved in computer science, the most common prefix is `GCS'. To
see a copy of the current code, browse [5876]http://www.geekcode.com.
Here is a sample geek code (that of Robert Hayden, the code's
inventor) from that page:
Version: 3.1
GED/J d-- s:++>: a- C++(++++)$ ULUO++ P+>+++ L++ !E---- W+(---) N+++
o+ K+++ w+(---) O- M+$>++ V-- PS++(+++)>$ PE++(+)>$ Y++ PGP++ t- 5+++
X++ R+++>$ tv+ b+ DI+++ D+++ G+++++>$ e++$>++++ h r-- y+**

The geek code originated in 1993; it was inspired (according to the
inventor) by previous "bear", "smurf" and "twink"
style-and-sexual-preference codes from lesbian and gay
[5877]newsgroups. It has in turn spawned imitators; there is now even
a "Saturn geek code" for owners of the Saturn car. See also
[5878]computer geek.

Node:geek out, Next:[5879]gen, Previous:[5880]geek code, Up:[5881]= G

geek out vi.

To temporarily enter techno-nerd mode while in a non-hackish context,
for example at parties held near computer equipment. Especially used
when you need to do or say something highly technical and don't have
time to explain: "Pardon me while I geek out for a moment." See
[5882]computer geek; see also [5883]propeller head.

Node:gen, Next:[5884]gender mender, Previous:[5885]geek out,
Up:[5886]= G =

gen /jen/ n.,v.

Short for [5887]generate, used frequently in both spoken and written

Node:gender mender, Next:[5888]General Public Virus,
Previous:[5889]gen, Up:[5890]= G =

gender mender n.

[common] A cable connector shell with either two male or two female
connectors on it, used to correct the mismatches that result when some
[5891]loser didn't understand the RS232C specification and the
distinction between DTE and DCE. Used esp. for RS-232C parts in either
the original D-25 or the IBM PC's bogus D-9 format. Also called
`gender bender', `gender blender', `sex changer', and even `homosexual
adapter;' however, there appears to be some confusion as to whether a
`male homosexual adapter' has pins on both sides (is doubly male) or
sockets on both sides (connects two males).

Node:General Public Virus, Next:[5892]generate, Previous:[5893]gender
mender, Up:[5894]= G =

General Public Virus n.

Pejorative name for some versions of the [5895]GNU project
[5896]copyleft or General Public License (GPL), which requires that
any tools or [5897]apps incorporating copylefted code must be
source-distributed on the same anti-proprietary terms as GNU stuff.
Thus it is alleged that the copyleft `infects' software generated with
GNU tools, which may in turn infect other software that reuses any of
its code. The Free Software Foundation's official position as of
January 1991 is that copyright law limits the scope of the GPL to
"programs textually incorporating significant amounts of GNU code",
and that the `infection' is not passed on to third parties unless
actual GNU source is transmitted. Nevertheless, widespread suspicion
that the [5898]copyleft language is `boobytrapped' has caused many
developers to avoid using GNU tools and the GPL. Changes in the
language of the version 2.0 GPL did not eliminate this problem.

Node:generate, Next:[5899]Genius From Mars Technique,
Previous:[5900]General Public Virus, Up:[5901]= G =

generate vt.

To produce something according to an algorithm or program or set of
rules, or as a (possibly unintended) side effect of the execution of
an algorithm or program. The opposite of [5902]parse. This term
retains its mechanistic connotations (though often humorously) when
used of human behavior. "The guy is rational most of the time, but
mention nuclear energy around him and he'll generate [5903]infinite

Node:Genius From Mars Technique, Next:[5904]gensym,
Previous:[5905]generate, Up:[5906]= G =

Genius From Mars Technique n.

[TMRC] A visionary quality which enables one to ignore the standard
approach and come up with a totally unexpected new algorithm. An
attack on a problem from an offbeat angle that no one has ever thought
of before, but that in retrospect makes total sense. Compare
[5907]grok, [5908]zen.

Node:gensym, Next:[5909]Get a life!, Previous:[5910]Genius From Mars
Technique, Up:[5911]= G =

gensym /jen'sim/

[from MacLISP for `generated symbol'] 1. v. To invent a new name for
something temporary, in such a way that the name is almost certainly
not in conflict with one already in use. 2. n. The resulting name. The
canonical form of a gensym is `Gnnnn' where nnnn represents a number;
any LISP hacker would recognize G0093 (for example) as a gensym. 3. A
freshly generated data structure with a gensymmed name. Gensymmed
names are useful for storing or uniquely identifying crufties (see

Node:Get a life!, Next:[5913]Get a real computer!,
Previous:[5914]gensym, Up:[5915]= G =

Get a life! imp.

Hacker-standard way of suggesting that the person to whom it is
directed has succumbed to terminal geekdom (see [5916]computer geek).
Often heard on [5917]Usenet, esp. as a way of suggesting that the
target is taking some obscure issue of [5918]theology too seriously.
This exhortation was popularized by William Shatner on a 1987
"Saturday Night Live" episode in a speech that ended "Get a life!",
but some respondents believe it to have been in use before then. It
was certainly in wide use among hackers for years before achieving
mainstream currency via the sitcom "Get A Life" in 1990.

Node:Get a real computer!, Next:[5919]GFR, Previous:[5920]Get a life!,
Up:[5921]= G =

Get a real computer! imp.

Typical hacker response to news that somebody is having trouble
getting work done on a system that (a) is single-tasking, (b) has no
hard disk, or (c) has an address space smaller than 16 megabytes. This
is as of early 1996; note that the threshold for `real computer' rises
with time. See [5922]bitty box and [5923]toy.

Node:GFR, Next:[5924]gib, Previous:[5925]Get a real computer!,
Up:[5926]= G =

GFR /G-F-R/ vt.

[ITS: from `Grim File Reaper', an ITS and LISP Machine utility] To
remove a file or files according to some program-automated or
semi-automatic manual procedure, especially one designed to reclaim
mass storage space or reduce name-space clutter (the original GFR
actually moved files to tape). Often generalized to pieces of data
below file level. "I used to have his phone number, but I guess I
[5927]GFRed it." See also [5928]prowler, [5929]reaper. Compare
[5930]GC, which discards only provably worthless stuff.

Node:gib, Next:[5931]GIFs at 11, Previous:[5932]GFR, Up:[5933]= G =

gib /jib/

1. vi. To destroy utterly. Like [5934]frag, but much more violent and
final. "There's no trace left. You definitely gibbed that bug". 2. n.
Remnants after total obliteration.

Originated first by id software in the game Quake. It's short for
giblets (thus pronounced "jib"), and referred to the bloody remains of
slain opponents. Eventually the word was verbed, and leaked into
general usage afterward.

Node:GIFs at 11, Next:[5935]gig, Previous:[5936]gib, Up:[5937]= G =

GIFs at 11

[Fidonet] Fidonet alternative to [5938]film at 11, especially in
echoes (Fidonet topic areas) where uuencoded GIFs are permitted. Other
formats, especially JPEG and MPEG, may be referenced instead.

Node:gig, Next:[5939]giga-, Previous:[5940]GIFs at 11, Up:[5941]= G =

gig /jig/ or /gig/ n.

[SI] See [5942]quantifiers.

Node:giga-, Next:[5943]GIGO, Previous:[5944]gig, Up:[5945]= G =

giga- /ji'ga/ or /gi'ga/ pref.

[SI] See [5946]quantifiers.

Node:GIGO, Next:[5947]gilley, Previous:[5948]giga-, Up:[5949]= G =

GIGO /gi:'goh/ [acronym]

1. `Garbage In, Garbage Out' -- usually said in response to
[5950]lusers who complain that a program didn't "do the right thing"
when given imperfect input or otherwise mistreated in some way. Also
commonly used to describe failures in human decision making due to
faulty, incomplete, or imprecise data. 2. `Garbage In, Gospel Out':
this more recent expansion is a sardonic comment on the tendency human
beings have to put excessive trust in `computerized' data.

Node:gilley, Next:[5951]gillion, Previous:[5952]GIGO, Up:[5953]= G =

gilley n.

[Usenet] The unit of analogical [5954]bogosity. According to its
originator, the standard for one gilley was "the act of
bogotoficiously comparing the shutting down of 1000 machines for a day
with the killing of one person". The milligilley has been found to
suffice for most normal conversational exchanges.

Node:gillion, Next:[5955]ginger, Previous:[5956]gilley, Up:[5957]= G =

gillion /gil'y*n/ or /jil'y*n/ n.

[formed from [5958]giga- by analogy with mega/million and
tera/trillion] 10^9. Same as an American billion or a British
`milliard'. How one pronounces this depends on whether one speaks
[5959]giga- with a hard or soft `g'.

Node:ginger, Next:[5960]GIPS, Previous:[5961]gillion, Up:[5962]= G =

ginger n.

See [5963]saga.

Node:GIPS, Next:[5964]glark, Previous:[5965]ginger, Up:[5966]= G =

GIPS /gips/ or /jips/ n.

[analogy with [5967]MIPS] Giga-Instructions per Second (also possibly
`Gillions of Instructions per Second'; see [5968]gillion). In 1991,
this is used of only a handful of highly parallel machines, but this
is expected to change. Compare [5969]KIPS.

Node:glark, Next:[5970]glass, Previous:[5971]GIPS, Up:[5972]= G =

glark /glark/ vt.

To figure something out from context. "The System III manuals are
pretty poor, but you can generally glark the meaning from context."
Interestingly, the word was originally `glork'; the context was "This
gubblick contains many nonsklarkish English flutzpahs, but the overall
pluggandisp can be glorked [sic] from context" (David Moser, quoted by
Douglas Hofstadter in his "Metamagical Themas" column in the January
1981 "Scientific American"). It is conjectured that hacker usage
mutated the verb to `glark' because [5973]glork was already an
established jargon term (some hackers do report using the original
term). Compare [5974]grok, [5975]zen.

Node:glass, Next:[5976]glass tty, Previous:[5977]glark, Up:[5978]= G =

glass n.

[IBM] Synonym for [5979]silicon.

Node:glass tty, Next:[5980]glassfet, Previous:[5981]glass, Up:[5982]=
G =

glass tty /glas T-T-Y/ or /glas ti'tee/ n.

A terminal that has a display screen but which, because of hardware or
software limitations, behaves like a teletype or some other printing
terminal, thereby combining the disadvantages of both: like a printing
terminal, it can't do fancy display hacks, and like a display
terminal, it doesn't produce hard copy. An example is the early `dumb'
version of Lear-Siegler ADM 3 (without cursor control). See
[5983]tube, [5984]tty; compare [5985]dumb terminal, [5986]smart
terminal. See "[5987]TV Typewriters" (Appendix A) for an interesting
true story about a glass tty.

Node:glassfet, Next:[5988]glitch, Previous:[5989]glass tty, Up:[5990]=
G =

glassfet /glas'fet/ n.

[by analogy with MOSFET, the acronym for `Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor
Field-Effect Transistor'] Syn. [5991]firebottle, a humorous way to
refer to a vacuum tube.

Node:glitch, Next:[5992]glob, Previous:[5993]glassfet, Up:[5994]= G =

glitch /glich/

[very common; from German `glitschig' to slip, via Yiddish `glitshen',
to slide or skid] 1. n. A sudden interruption in electric service,
sanity, continuity, or program function. Sometimes recoverable. An
interruption in electric service is specifically called a `power
glitch' (also [5995]power hit), of grave concern because it usually
crashes all the computers. In jargon, though, a hacker who got to the
middle of a sentence and then forgot how he or she intended to
complete it might say, "Sorry, I just glitched". 2. vi. To commit a
glitch. See [5996]gritch. 3. vt. [Stanford] To scroll a display
screen, esp. several lines at a time. [5997]WAITS terminals used to do
this in order to avoid continuous scrolling, which is distracting to
the eye. 4. obs. Same as [5998]magic cookie, sense 2.

All these uses of `glitch' derive from the specific technical meaning
the term has in the electronic hardware world, where it is now
techspeak. A glitch can occur when the inputs of a circuit change, and
the outputs change to some [5999]random value for some very brief time
before they settle down to the correct value. If another circuit
inspects the output at just the wrong time, reading the random value,
the results can be very wrong and very hard to debug (a glitch is one
of many causes of electronic [6000]heisenbugs).

Node:glob, Next:[6001]glork, Previous:[6002]glitch, Up:[6003]= G =

glob /glob/, not /glohb/ v.,n.

[Unix; common] To expand special characters in a wildcarded name, or
the act of so doing (the action is also called `globbing'). The Unix
conventions for filename wildcarding have become sufficiently
pervasive that many hackers use some of them in written English,
especially in email or news on technical topics. Those commonly
encountered include the following:

wildcard for any string (see also [6004]UN*X)

wildcard for any single character (generally read this way only
at the beginning or in the middle of a word)

delimits a wildcard matching any of the enclosed characters

alternation of comma-separated alternatives; thus,
`foo{baz,qux}' would be read as `foobaz' or `fooqux'

Some examples: "He said his name was [KC]arl" (expresses ambiguity).
"I don't read talk.politics.*" (any of the talk.politics subgroups on
[6005]Usenet). Other examples are given under the entry for [6006]X.
Note that glob patterns are similar, but not identical, to those used
in [6007]regexps.

Historical note: The jargon usage derives from glob, the name of a
subprogram that expanded wildcards in archaic pre-Bourne versions of
the Unix shell.

Node:glork, Next:[6008]glue, Previous:[6009]glob, Up:[6010]= G =

glork /glork/

1. interj. Term of mild surprise, usually tinged with outrage, as when
one attempts to save the results of two hours of editing and finds
that the system has just crashed. 2. Used as a name for just about
anything. See [6011]foo. 3. vt. Similar to [6012]glitch, but usually
used reflexively. "My program just glorked itself." 4. Syn. for
[6013]glark, which see.

Node:glue, Next:[6014]gnarly, Previous:[6015]glork, Up:[6016]= G =

glue n.

Generic term for any interface logic or protocol that connects two
component blocks. For example, [6017]Blue Glue is IBM's SNA protocol,
and hardware designers call anything used to connect large VLSI's or
circuit blocks `glue logic'.

Node:gnarly, Next:[6018]GNU, Previous:[6019]glue, Up:[6020]= G =

gnarly /nar'lee/ adj.

Both [6021]obscure and [6022]hairy (sense 1). "[6023]Yow! -- the tuned
assembler implementation of BitBlt is really gnarly!" From a similar
but less specific usage in surfer slang.

Node:GNU, Next:[6024]gnubie, Previous:[6025]gnarly, Up:[6026]= G =

GNU /gnoo/, not /noo/

1. [acronym: `GNU's Not Unix!', see [6027]recursive acronym] A
Unix-workalike development effort of the Free Software Foundation
headed by Richard Stallman [6028], founder of Usenet's anarchic alt.*

Node:gnubie, Next:[6035]GNUMACS, Previous:[6036]GNU, Up:[6037]= G =

gnubie /noo'bee/ n.

Written-only variant of [6038]newbie in common use on IRC channels,
which implies specifically someone who is new to the Linux/open
source/free software world.

Node:GNUMACS, Next:[6039]go flatline, Previous:[6040]gnubie,
Up:[6041]= G =

GNUMACS /gnoo'maks/ n.

[contraction of `GNU EMACS'] Often-heard abbreviated name for the
[6042]GNU project's flagship tool, [6043]EMACS. Used esp. in contrast

Node:go flatline, Next:[6044]go root, Previous:[6045]GNUMACS,
Up:[6046]= G =

go flatline v.

[from cyberpunk SF, refers to flattening of EEG traces upon
brain-death] (also adjectival `flatlined'). 1. To [6047]die,
terminate, or fail, esp. irreversibly. In hacker parlance, this is
used of machines only, human death being considered somewhat too
serious a matter to employ jargon-jokes about. 2. To go completely
quiescent; said of machines undergoing controlled shutdown. "You can
suffer file damage if you shut down Unix but power off before the
system has gone flatline." 3. Of a video tube, to fail by losing
vertical scan, so all one sees is a bright horizontal line bisecting
the screen.

Node:go root, Next:[6048]go-faster stripes, Previous:[6049]go
flatline, Up:[6050]= G =

go root vi.

[Unix; common] To temporarily enter [6051]root mode in order to
perform a privileged operation. This use is deprecated in Australia,
where v. `root' is a synonym for "fuck".

Node:go-faster stripes, Next:[6052]GoAT, Previous:[6053]go root,
Up:[6054]= G =

go-faster stripes n.

[UK] Syn. [6055]chrome. Mainstream in some parts of UK.

Node:GoAT, Next:[6056]gobble, Previous:[6057]go-faster stripes,
Up:[6058]= G =

GoAT //

[Usenet] Abbreviation: "Go Away, Troll". See [6059]troll.

Node:gobble, Next:[6060]Godwin's Law, Previous:[6061]GoAT, Up:[6062]=
G =

gobble vt.

1. To consume, usu. used with `up'. "The output spy gobbles characters
out of a [6063]tty output buffer." 2. To obtain, usu. used with
`down'. "I guess I'll gobble down a copy of the documentation
tomorrow." See also [6064]snarf.

Node:Godwin's Law, Next:[6065]Godzillagram, Previous:[6066]gobble,
Up:[6067]= G =

Godwin's Law prov.

[Usenet] "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a
comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." There is a
tradition in many groups that, once this occurs, that thread is over,
and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever
argument was in progress. Godwin's Law thus practically guarantees the
existence of an upper bound on thread length in those groups. However
there is also a widely- recognized codicil that any intentional
triggering of Godwin's Law in order to invoke its thread-ending
effects will be unsuccessful.

Node:Godzillagram, Next:[6068]golden, Previous:[6069]Godwin's Law,
Up:[6070]= G =

Godzillagram /god-zil'*-gram/ n.

[from Japan's national hero] 1. A network packet that in theory is a
broadcast to every machine in the universe. The typical case is an IP
datagram whose destination IP address is [].
Fortunately, few gateways are foolish enough to attempt to implement
this case! 2. A network packet of maximum size. An IP Godzillagram has
65,536 octets. Compare [6071]super source quench, [6072]Christmas tree
packet, [6073]martian.

Node:golden, Next:[6074]golf-ball printer,
Previous:[6075]Godzillagram, Up:[6076]= G =

golden adj.

[prob. from folklore's `golden egg'] When used to describe a magnetic
medium (e.g., `golden disk', `golden tape'), describes one containing
a tested, up-to-spec, ready-to-ship software version. Compare

Node:golf-ball printer, Next:[6078]gonk, Previous:[6079]golden,
Up:[6080]= G =

golf-ball printer n. obs.

The IBM 2741, a slow but letter-quality printing device and terminal
based on the IBM Selectric typewriter. The `golf ball' was a little
spherical frob bearing reversed embossed images of 88 different
characters arranged on four parallels of latitude; one could change
the font by swapping in a different golf ball. The print element spun
and jerked alarmingly in action and when in motion was sometimes
described as an `infuriated golf ball'. This was the technology that
enabled APL to use a non-EBCDIC, non-ASCII, and in fact completely
non-standard character set. This put it 10 years ahead of its time --
where it stayed, firmly rooted, for the next 20, until character
displays gave way to programmable bit-mapped devices with the
flexibility to support other character sets.

Node:gonk, Next:[6081]gonkulator, Previous:[6082]golf-ball printer,
Up:[6083]= G =

gonk /gonk/ vi.,n.

1. To prevaricate or to embellish the truth beyond any reasonable
recognition. In German the term is (mythically) `gonken'; in Spanish
the verb becomes `gonkar'. "You're gonking me. That story you just
told me is a bunch of gonk." In German, for example, "Du gonkst mich"
(You're pulling my leg). See also [6084]gonkulator. 2. [British] To
grab some sleep at an odd time; compare [6085]gronk out.

Node:gonkulator, Next:[6086]gonzo, Previous:[6087]gonk, Up:[6088]= G =

gonkulator /gon'kyoo-lay-tr/ n.

[common; from the 1960s "Hogan's Heroes" TV series] A pretentious
piece of equipment that actually serves no useful purpose. Usually
used to describe one's least favorite piece of computer hardware. See

Node:gonzo, Next:[6090]Good Thing, Previous:[6091]gonkulator,
Up:[6092]= G =

gonzo /gon'zoh/ adj.

[from Hunter S. Thompson] 1. With total commitment, total
concentration, and a mad sort of panache. (Thompson's original sense.)
2. More loosely: Overwhelming; outrageous; over the top; very large,
esp. used of collections of source code, source files, or individual
functions. Has some of the connotations of [6093]moby and [6094]hairy,
but without the implication of obscurity or complexity.

Node:Good Thing, Next:[6095]gopher, Previous:[6096]gonzo, Up:[6097]= G

Good Thing n.,adj.

[very common; often capitalized; always pronounced as if capitalized.]
1. Self-evidently wonderful to anyone in a position to notice: "A
language that manages dynamic memory automatically for you is a Good
Thing." 2. Something that can't possibly have any ill side-effects and
may save considerable grief later: "Removing the self-modifying code
from that shared library would be a Good Thing." 3. When said of
software tools or libraries, as in "YACC is a Good Thing",
specifically connotes that the thing has drastically reduced a
programmer's work load. Oppose [6098]Bad Thing.

Node:gopher, Next:[6099]gopher hole, Previous:[6100]Good Thing,
Up:[6101]= G =

gopher n.

A type of Internet service first floated around 1991 and obsolesced
around 1995 by the World Wide Web. Gopher presents a menuing interface
to a tree or graph of links; the links can be to documents, runnable
programs, or other gopher menus arbitrarily far across the net.

Some claim that the gopher software, which was originally developed at
the University of Minnesota, was named after the Minnesota Gophers (a
sports team). Others claim the word derives from American slang
`gofer' (from "go for", dialectal "go fer"), one whose job is to run
and fetch things. Finally, observe that gophers dig long tunnels, and
the idea of tunneling through the net to find information was a
defining metaphor for the developers. Probably all three things were
true, but with the first two coming first and the gopher-tunnel
metaphor serendipitously adding flavor and impetus to the project as
it developed out of its concept stage.

Node:gopher hole, Next:[6102]gorets, Previous:[6103]gopher, Up:[6104]=
G =

gopher hole n.

1. Any access to a [6105]gopher. 2. [Amateur Packet Radio] The
terrestrial analog of a [6106]wormhole (sense 2), from which this term
was coined. A gopher hole links two amateur packet relays through some
non-ham radio medium.

Node:gorets, Next:[6107]gorilla arm, Previous:[6108]gopher hole,
Up:[6109]= G =

gorets /gor'ets/ n.

The unknown ur-noun, fill in your own meaning. Found esp. on the
Usenet newsgroup alt.gorets, which seems to be a running contest to
redefine the word by implication in the funniest and most peculiar
way, with the understanding that no definition is ever final. [A
correspondent from the Former Soviet Union informs me that `gorets' is
Russian for `mountain dweller'. Another from France informs me that
`goret' is archaic French for a young pig --ESR] Compare [6110]frink.

Node:gorilla arm, Next:[6111]gorp, Previous:[6112]gorets, Up:[6113]= G

gorilla arm n.

The side-effect that destroyed touch-screens as a mainstream input
technology despite a promising start in the early 1980s. It seems the
designers of all those [6114]spiffy touch-menu systems failed to
notice that humans aren't designed to hold their arms in front of
their faces making small motions. After more than a very few
selections, the arm begins to feel sore, cramped, and oversized -- the
operator looks like a gorilla while using the touch screen and feels
like one afterwards. This is now considered a classic cautionary tale
to human-factors designers; "Remember the gorilla arm!" is shorthand
for "How is this going to fly in real use?".

Node:gorp, Next:[6115]GOSMACS, Previous:[6116]gorilla arm, Up:[6117]=
G =

gorp /gorp/ n.

[CMU: perhaps from the canonical hiker's food, Good Old Raisins and
Peanuts] Another [6118]metasyntactic variable, like [6119]foo and

Node:GOSMACS, Next:[6121]Gosperism, Previous:[6122]gorp, Up:[6123]= G

GOSMACS /goz'maks/ n.

[contraction of `Gosling EMACS'] The first [6124]EMACS-in-C
implementation, predating but now largely eclipsed by [6125]GNUMACS.
Originally freeware; a commercial version was modestly popular as
`UniPress EMACS' during the 1980s. The author, James Gosling, went on
to invent [6126]NeWS and the programming language Java; the latter
earned him [6127]demigod status.

Node:Gosperism, Next:[6128]gotcha, Previous:[6129]GOSMACS, Up:[6130]=
G =

Gosperism /gos'p*r-izm/ n.

A hack, invention, or saying due to [6131]elder days arch-hacker R.
William (Bill) Gosper. This notion merits its own term because there
are so many of them. Many of the entries in [6132]HAKMEM are
Gosperisms; see also [6133]life.

Node:gotcha, Next:[6134]GPL, Previous:[6135]Gosperism, Up:[6136]= G =

gotcha n.

A [6137]misfeature of a system, especially a programming language or
environment, that tends to breed bugs or mistakes because it both
enticingly easy to invoke and completely unexpected and/or
unreasonable in its outcome. For example, a classic gotcha in [6138]C
is the fact that if (a=b) {code;} is syntactically valid and sometimes
even correct. It puts the value of b into a and then executes code if
a is non-zero. What the programmer probably meant was if (a==b)
{code;}, which executes code if a and b are equal.

Node:GPL, Next:[6139]GPV, Previous:[6140]gotcha, Up:[6141]= G =

GPL /G-P-L/ n.

Abbreviation for `General Public License' in widespread use; see
[6142]copyleft, [6143]General Public Virus. Often mis-expanded as `GNU
Public License'.

Node:GPV, Next:[6144]grault, Previous:[6145]GPL, Up:[6146]= G =

GPV /G-P-V/ n.

Abbrev. for [6147]General Public Virus in widespread use.

Node:grault, Next:[6148]gray goo, Previous:[6149]GPV, Up:[6150]= G =

grault /grawlt/ n.

Yet another [6151]metasyntactic variable, invented by Mike Gallaher
and propagated by the [6152]GOSMACS documentation. See [6153]corge.

Node:gray goo, Next:[6154]Great Renaming, Previous:[6155]grault,
Up:[6156]= G =

gray goo n.

A hypothetical substance composed of [6157]sagans of sub-micron-sized
self-replicating robots programmed to make copies of themselves out of
whatever is available. The image that goes with the term is one of the
entire biosphere of Earth being eventually converted to robot goo.
This is the simplest of the [6158]nanotechnology disaster scenarios,
easily refuted by arguments from energy requirements and elemental
abundances. Compare [6159]blue goo.

Node:Great Renaming, Next:[6160]Great Runes, Previous:[6161]gray goo,
Up:[6162]= G =

Great Renaming n.

The [6163]flag day in 1987 on which all of the non-local groups on the
[6164]Usenet had their names changed from the net.- format to the
current multiple-hierarchies scheme. Used esp. in discussing the
history of newsgroup names. "The oldest sources group is
comp.sources.misc; before the Great Renaming, it was net.sources."
There is a [6165]Great Renaming FAQ on the Web.

Node:Great Runes, Next:[6166]Great Worm, Previous:[6167]Great
Renaming, Up:[6168]= G =

Great Runes n.

Uppercase-only text or display messages. Some archaic operating
systems still emit these. See also [6169]runes, [6170]smash case,
[6171]fold case.

There is a widespread legend (repeated by earlier versions of this
entry, though tagged as folklore) that the uppercase-only support of
various old character codes and I/O equipment was chosen by a
religious person in a position of power at the Teletype Company
because supporting both upper and lower cases was too expensive and
supporting lower case only would have made it impossible to spell
`God' correctly. Not true; the upper-case interpretation of
teleprinter codes was well established by 1870, long before Teletype
was even founded.

Node:Great Worm, Next:[6172]great-wall, Previous:[6173]Great Runes,
Up:[6174]= G =

Great Worm n.

The 1988 Internet [6175]worm perpetrated by [6176]RTM. This is a play
on Tolkien (compare [6177]elvish, [6178]elder days). In the fantasy
history of his Middle Earth books, there were dragons powerful enough
to lay waste to entire regions; two of these (Scatha and Glaurung)
were known as "the Great Worms". This usage expresses the connotation
that the RTM crack was a sort of devastating watershed event in hacker
history; certainly it did more to make non-hackers nervous about the
Internet than anything before or since.

Node:great-wall, Next:[6179]Green Book, Previous:[6180]Great Worm,
Up:[6181]= G =

great-wall vi.,n.

[from SF fandom] A mass expedition to an oriental restaurant, esp. one
where food is served family-style and shared. There is a common
heuristic about the amount of food to order, expressed as "Get N - 1
entrees"; the value of N, which is the number of people in the group,
can be inferred from context (see [6182]N). See [6183]oriental food,
[6184]ravs, [6185]stir-fried random.

Node:Green Book, Next:[6186]green bytes, Previous:[6187]great-wall,
Up:[6188]= G =

Green Book n.

1. One of the three standard [6189]PostScript references: "PostScript
Language Program Design", bylined `Adobe Systems' (Addison-Wesley,
1988; QA76.73.P67P66 ISBN 0-201-14396-8); see also [6190]Red Book,
[6191]Blue Book, and the [6192]White Book (sense 2). 2. Informal name
for one of the three standard references on SmallTalk: "Smalltalk-80:
Bits of History, Words of Advice", by Glenn Krasner (Addison-Wesley,
1983; QA76.8.S635S58; ISBN 0-201-11669-3) (this, too, is associated
with blue and red books). 3. The "X/Open Compatibility Guide", which
defines an international standard [6193]Unix environment that is a
proper superset of POSIX/SVID; also includes descriptions of a
standard utility toolkit, systems administrations features, and the
like. This grimoire is taken with particular seriousness in Europe.
See [6194]Purple Book. 4. The IEEE 1003.1 POSIX Operating Systems
Interface standard has been dubbed "The Ugly Green Book". 5. Any of
the 1992 standards issued by the CCITT's tenth plenary assembly. These
include, among other things, the X.400 email standard and the Group 1
through 4 fax standards. See also [6195]book titles.

Node:green bytes, Next:[6196]green card, Previous:[6197]Green Book,
Up:[6198]= G =

green bytes n.

(also `green words') 1. Meta-information embedded in a file, such as
the length of the file or its name; as opposed to keeping such
information in a separate description file or record. The term comes
from an IBM user's group meeting (ca. 1962) at which these two
approaches were being debated and the diagram of the file on the
blackboard had the `green bytes' drawn in green. 2. By extension, the
non-data bits in any self-describing format. "A GIF file contains,
among other things, green bytes describing the packing method for the
image." Compare [6199]out-of-band, [6200]zigamorph, [6201]fence (sense

Node:green card, Next:[6202]green lightning, Previous:[6203]green
bytes, Up:[6204]= G =

green card n.

[after the "IBM System/360 Reference Data" card] A summary of an
assembly language, even if the color is not green and not a card. Less
frequently used now because of the decrease in the use of assembly
language. "I'll go get my green card so I can check the addressing
mode for that instruction."

The original green card became a yellow card when the System/370 was
introduced, and later a yellow booklet. An anecdote from IBM refers to
a scene that took place in a programmers' terminal room at Yorktown in
1978. A [6205]luser overheard one of the programmers ask another "Do
you have a green card?" The other grunted and passed the first a thick
yellow booklet. At this point the luser turned a delicate shade of
olive and rapidly left the room, never to return.

In fall 2000 it was reported from Electronic Data Systems that the
green card for 370 machines has been a blue-green booklet since 1989.

Node:green lightning, Next:[6206]green machine, Previous:[6207]green
card, Up:[6208]= G =

green lightning n.

[IBM] 1. Apparently random flashing streaks on the face of 3278-9
terminals while a new symbol set is being downloaded. This hardware
bug was left deliberately unfixed, as some genius within IBM suggested
it would let the user know that `something is happening'. That, it
certainly does. Later microprocessor-driven IBM color graphics
displays were actually programmed to produce green lightning! 2.
[proposed] Any bug perverted into an alleged feature by adroit
rationalization or marketing. "Motorola calls the CISC cruft in the
88000 architecture `compatibility logic', but I call it green
lightning". See also [6209]feature (sense 6).

Node:green machine, Next:[6210]Green's Theorem, Previous:[6211]green
lightning, Up:[6212]= G =

green machine n.

A computer or peripheral device that has been designed and built to
military specifications for field equipment (that is, to withstand
mechanical shock, extremes of temperature and humidity, and so forth).
Comes from the olive-drab `uniform' paint used for military equipment.

Node:Green's Theorem, Next:[6213]greenbar, Previous:[6214]green
machine, Up:[6215]= G =

Green's Theorem prov.

[TMRC] For any story, in any group of people there will be at least
one person who has not heard the story. A refinement of the theorem
states that there will be exactly one person (if there were more than
one, it wouldn't be as bad to re-tell the story). [The name of this
theorem is a play on a fundamental theorem in calculus. --ESR]

Node:greenbar, Next:[6216]grep, Previous:[6217]Green's Theorem,
Up:[6218]= G =

greenbar n.

A style of fanfolded continuous-feed paper with alternating green and
white bars on it, especially used in old-style line printers. This
slang almost certainly dates way back to mainframe days.

Node:grep, Next:[6219]gribble, Previous:[6220]greenbar, Up:[6221]= G =

grep /grep/ vi.

[from the qed/ed editor idiom g/re/p, where re stands for a regular
expression, to Globally search for the Regular Expression and Print
the lines containing matches to it, via [6222]Unix grep(1)] To rapidly
scan a file or set of files looking for a particular string or pattern
(when browsing through a large set of files, one may speak of
`grepping around'). By extension, to look for something by pattern.
"Grep the bulletin board for the system backup schedule, would you?"
See also [6223]vgrep.

[It has also been alleged that the source is from the title of a paper
"A General Regular Expression Parser" -ESR]

Node:gribble, Next:[6224]grilf, Previous:[6225]grep, Up:[6226]= G =

gribble n.

Random binary data rendered as unreadable text. Noise characters in a
data stream are displayed as gribble. Modems with mismatched bitrates
usually generate gribble (more specifically, [6227]baud barf). Dumping
a binary file to the screen is an excellent source of gribble, and (if
the bell/speaker is active) headaches.

Node:grilf, Next:[6228]grind, Previous:[6229]gribble, Up:[6230]= G =

grilf // n.

Girlfriend. Like [6231]newsfroup and [6232]filk, a typo reincarnated
as a new word. Seems to have originated sometime in 1992 on
[6233]Usenet. [A friend tells me there was a Lloyd Biggle SF novel
"Watchers Of The Dark", in which alien species after species goes
insane and begins to chant "Grilf! Grilf!". A human detective
eventually determines that the word means "Liar!" I hope this has
nothing to do with the popularity of the Usenet term. --ESR]

Node:grind, Next:[6234]grind crank, Previous:[6235]grilf, Up:[6236]= G

grind vt.

1. [MIT and Berkeley; now rare] To prettify hardcopy of code,
especially LISP code, by reindenting lines, printing keywords and
comments in distinct fonts (if available), etc. This usage was
associated with the MacLISP community and is now rare; prettyprint was
and is the generic term for such operations. 2. [Unix] To generate the
formatted version of a document from the [6237]nroff, [6238]troff,
[6239]TeX, or Scribe source. 3. [common] To run seemingly
interminably, esp. (but not necessarily) if performing some tedious
and inherently useless task. Similar to [6240]crunch or [6241]grovel.
Grinding has a connotation of using a lot of CPU time, but it is
possible to grind a disk, network, etc. See also [6242]hog. 4. To make
the whole system slow. "Troff really grinds a PDP-11." 5. `grind
grind' excl. Roughly, "Isn't the machine slow today!"

Node:grind crank, Next:[6243]gripenet, Previous:[6244]grind,
Up:[6245]= G =

grind crank n. //

A mythical accessory to a terminal. A crank on the side of a monitor,
which when operated makes a zizzing noise and causes the computer to
run faster. Usually one does not refer to a grind crank out loud, but
merely makes the appropriate gesture and noise. See [6246]grind.

Historical note: At least one real machine actually had a grind crank
-- the R1, a research machine built toward the end of the days of the
great vacuum tube computers, in 1959. R1 (also known as `The Rice
Institute Computer' (TRIC) and later as `The Rice University Computer'
(TRUC)) had a single-step/free-run switch for use when debugging
programs. Since single-stepping through a large program was rather
tedious, there was also a crank with a cam and gear arrangement that
repeatedly pushed the single-step button. This allowed one to `crank'
through a lot of code, then slow down to single-step for a bit when
you got near the code of interest, poke at some registers using the
console typewriter, and then keep on cranking.

Node:gripenet, Next:[6247]gritch, Previous:[6248]grind crank,
Up:[6249]= G =

gripenet n.

[IBM] A wry (and thoroughly unofficial) name for IBM's internal VNET
system, deriving from its common use by IBMers to voice pointed
criticism of IBM management that would be taboo in more formal

Node:gritch, Next:[6250]grok, Previous:[6251]gripenet, Up:[6252]= G =

gritch /grich/

[MIT] 1. n. A complaint (often caused by a [6253]glitch). 2. vi. To
complain. Often verb-doubled: "Gritch gritch". 3. A synonym for
[6254]glitch (as verb or noun).

Interestingly, this word seems to have a separate history from
[6255]glitch, with which it is often confused. Back in the early
1960s, when `glitch' was strictly a hardware-tech's term of art, the
Burton House dorm at M.I.T. maintained a "Gritch Book", a blank
volume, into which the residents hand-wrote complaints, suggestions,
and witticisms. Previous years' volumes of this tradition were
maintained, dating back to antiquity. The word "gritch" was described
as a portmanteau of "gripe" and "bitch". Thus, sense 3 above is at
least historically incorrect.

Node:grok, Next:[6256]gronk, Previous:[6257]gritch, Up:[6258]= G =

grok /grok/, var. /grohk/ vt.

[from the novel "Stranger in a Strange Land", by Robert A. Heinlein,
where it is a Martian word meaning literally `to drink' and
metaphorically `to be one with'] The emphatic form is `grok in
fullness'. 1. To understand, usually in a global sense. Connotes
intimate and exhaustive knowledge. Contrast [6259]zen, which is
similar supernal understanding experienced as a single brief flash.
See also [6260]glark. 2. Used of programs, may connote merely
sufficient understanding. "Almost all C compilers grok the void type
these days."

Node:gronk, Next:[6261]gronk out, Previous:[6262]grok, Up:[6263]= G =

gronk /gronk/ vt.

[popularized by Johnny Hart's comic strip "B.C." but the word
apparently predates that] 1. To clear the state of a wedged device and
restart it. More severe than `to [6264]frob' (sense 2). 2. [TMRC] To
cut, sever, smash, or similarly disable. 3. The sound made by many
3.5-inch diskette drives. In particular, the microfloppies on a
Commodore Amiga go "grink, gronk".

Node:gronk out, Next:[6265]gronked, Previous:[6266]gronk, Up:[6267]= G

gronk out vi.

To cease functioning. Of people, to go home and go to sleep. "I guess
I'll gronk out now; see you all tomorrow."

Node:gronked, Next:[6268]grovel, Previous:[6269]gronk out, Up:[6270]=
G =

gronked adj.

1. Broken. "The teletype scanner was gronked, so we took the system
down." 2. Of people, the condition of feeling very tired or (less
commonly) sick. "I've been chasing that bug for 17 hours now and I am
thoroughly gronked!" Compare [6271]broken, which means about the same
as [6272]gronk used of hardware, but connotes depression or
mental/emotional problems in people.

Node:grovel, Next:[6273]grue, Previous:[6274]gronked, Up:[6275]= G =

grovel vi.

1. To work interminably and without apparent progress. Often used
transitively with `over' or `through'. "The file scavenger has been
groveling through the /usr directories for 10 minutes now." Compare
[6276]grind and [6277]crunch. Emphatic form: `grovel obscenely'. 2. To
examine minutely or in complete detail. "The compiler grovels over the
entire source program before beginning to translate it." "I grovelled
through all the documentation, but I still couldn't find the command I

Node:grue, Next:[6278]grunge, Previous:[6279]grovel, Up:[6280]= G =

grue n.

[from archaic English verb for `shudder', as with fear] The grue was
originated in the game [6281]Zork (Dave Lebling took the name from
Jack Vance's "Dying Earth" fantasies) and used in several other
[6282]Infocom games as a hint that you should perhaps look for a lamp,
torch or some type of light source. Wandering into a dark area would
cause the game to prompt you, "It is very dark. If you continue you
are likely to be eaten by a grue." If you failed to locate a light
source within the next couple of moves this would indeed be the case.

The grue, according to scholars of the Great Underground Empire, is a
sinister, lurking presence in the dark places of the earth. Its
favorite diet is either adventurers or enchanters, but its insatiable
appetite is tempered by its extreme fear of light. No grues have ever
been seen by the light of day, and only a few have been observed in
their underground lairs. Of those who have seen grues, few have
survived their fearsome jaws to tell the tale. Grues have sharp claws
and fangs, and an uncontrollable tendency to slaver and gurgle. They
are certainly the most evil-tempered of all creatures; to say they are
touchy is a dangerous understatement. "Sour as a grue" is a common
expression, even among themselves.

All this folklore is widely known among hackers.

Node:grunge, Next:[6283]gubbish, Previous:[6284]grue, Up:[6285]= G =

grunge /gruhnj/ n.

1. That which is grungy, or that which makes it so. 2. [Cambridge]
Code which is inaccessible due to changes in other parts of the
program. The preferred term in North America is [6286]dead code.

Node:gubbish, Next:[6287]Guido, Previous:[6288]grunge, Up:[6289]= G =

gubbish /guhb'*sh/ n.

[a portmanteau of `garbage' and `rubbish'; may have originated with SF
author Philip K. Dick] Garbage; crap; nonsense. "What is all this
gubbish?" The opposite portmanteau `rubbage' is also reported; in
fact, it was British slang during the 19th century and appears in

Node:Guido, Next:[6290]guiltware, Previous:[6291]gubbish, Up:[6292]= G

Guido /gwee'do/ or /khwee'do/

Without qualification, Guido van Rossum (author of [6293]Python). Note
that Guido answers to English /gwee'do/ but in Dutch it's /khwee'do/.

Node:guiltware, Next:[6294]gumby, Previous:[6295]Guido, Up:[6296]= G =

guiltware /gilt'weir/ n.

1. A piece of [6297]freeware decorated with a message telling one how
long and hard the author worked on it and intimating that one is a
no-good freeloader if one does not immediately send the poor suffering
martyr gobs of money. 2. A piece of [6298]shareware that works.

Node:gumby, Next:[6299]gun, Previous:[6300]guiltware, Up:[6301]= G =

gumby /guhm'bee/ n.

[from a class of Monty Python characters, poss. with some influence
from the 1960s claymation character] 1. An act of minor but
conspicuous stupidity, often in `gumby maneuver' or `pull a gumby'. 2.
[NRL] n. A bureaucrat, or other technical incompetent who impedes the
progress of real work. 3. adj. Relating to things typically associated
with people in sense 2. (e.g. "Ran would be writing code, but Richard
gave him gumby work that's due on Friday", or, "Dammit! Travel screwed
up my plane tickets. I have to go out on gumby patrol.")

Node:gun, Next:[6302]gunch, Previous:[6303]gumby, Up:[6304]= G =

gun vt.

[ITS, now rare: from the :GUN command] To forcibly terminate a program
or job (computer, not career). "Some idiot left a background process
running soaking up half the cycles, so I gunned it." Usage: now rare.
Compare [6305]can, [6306]blammo.

Node:gunch, Next:[6307]gunpowder chicken, Previous:[6308]gun,
Up:[6309]= G =

gunch /guhnch/ vt.

[TMRC] To push, prod, or poke at a device that has almost (but not
quite) produced the desired result. Implies a threat to [6310]mung.

Node:gunpowder chicken, Next:[6311]gurfle, Previous:[6312]gunch,
Up:[6313]= G =

gunpowder chicken n.

Same as [6314]laser chicken.

Node:gurfle, Next:[6315]guru, Previous:[6316]gunpowder chicken,
Up:[6317]= G =

gurfle /ger'fl/ interj.

An expression of shocked disbelief. "He said we have to recode this
thing in FORTRAN by next week. Gurfle!" Compare [6318]weeble.

Node:guru, Next:[6319]guru meditation, Previous:[6320]gurfle,
Up:[6321]= G =

guru n.

[Unix] An expert. Implies not only [6322]wizard skill but also a
history of being a knowledge resource for others. Less often, used
(with a qualifier) for other experts on other systems, as in `VMS
guru'. See [6323]source of all good bits.

Node:guru meditation, Next:[6324]gweep, Previous:[6325]guru,
Up:[6326]= G =

guru meditation n.

Amiga equivalent of `panic' in Unix (sometimes just called a `guru' or
`guru event'). When the system crashes, a cryptic message of the form
"GURU MEDITATION #XXXXXXXX.YYYYYYYY" may appear, indicating what the
problem was. An Amiga guru can figure things out from the numbers.
Sometimes a [6327]guru event must be followed by a [6328]Vulcan nerve

This term is (no surprise) an in-joke from the earliest days of the
Amiga. An earlier product of the Amiga corporation was a device called
a `Joyboard' which was basically a plastic board built onto a
joystick-like device; it was sold with a skiing game cartridge for the
Atari game machine. It is said that whenever the prototype OS crashed,
the system programmer responsible would calm down by concentrating on
a solution while sitting cross-legged on a Joyboard trying to keep the
board in balance. This position resembled that of a meditating guru.
Sadly, the joke was removed fairly early on (but there's a well-known
patch to restore it in more recent versions).

Node:gweep, Next:[6329]h, Previous:[6330]guru meditation, Up:[6331]= G

gweep /gweep/

[WPI] 1. v. To [6332]hack, usually at night. At WPI, from 1975
onwards, one who gweeped could often be found at the College Computing
Center punching cards or crashing the [6333]PDP-10 or, later, the
DEC-20. A correspondent who was there at the time opines that the term
was originally onomatopoetic, describing the keyclick sound of the
Datapoint terminals long connected to the PDP-10. The term has
survived the demise of those technologies, however, and was still
alive in early 1999. "I'm going to go gweep for a while. See you in
the morning." "I gweep from 8 PM till 3 AM during the week." 2. n. One
who habitually gweeps in sense 1; a [6334]hacker. "He's a hard-core
gweep, mumbles code in his sleep."

Node:= H =, Next:[6335]= I =, Previous:[6336]= G =, Up:[6337]The
Jargon Lexicon

= H =

* [6338]h:
* [6339]ha ha only serious:
* [6340]hack:
* [6341]hack attack:
* [6342]hack mode:
* [6343]hack on:
* [6344]hack together:
* [6345]hack up:
* [6346]hack value:
* [6347]hacked off:
* [6348]hacked up:
* [6349]hacker:
* [6350]hacker ethic:
* [6351]hacker humor:
* [6352]Hackers (the movie):
* [6353]hacking run:
* [6354]Hacking X for Y:
* [6355]Hackintosh:
* [6356]hackish:
* [6357]hackishness:
* [6358]hackitude:
* [6359]hair:
* [6360]hairball:
* [6361]hairy:
* [6362]HAKMEM:
* [6363]hakspek:
* [6364]Halloween Documents:
* [6365]hammer:
* [6366]hamster:
* [6367]HAND:
* [6368]hand cruft:
* [6369]hand-hacking:
* [6370]handle:
* [6371]handle:
* [6372]hand-roll:
* [6373]handshaking:
* [6374]handwave:
* [6375]hang:
* [6376]Hanlon's Razor:
* [6377]happily:
* [6378]haque:
* [6379]hard boot:
* [6380]hardcoded:
* [6381]hardwarily:
* [6382]hardwired:
* [6383]has the X nature:
* [6384]hash bucket:
* [6385]hash collision:
* [6386]hat:
* [6387]HCF:
* [6388]heads down:
* [6389]heartbeat:

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