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The New Hacker's Dictionary version 4.2.2 by Various editors

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days this was considered a CMUish usage, with MIT and Stanford hackers
preferring [1060]excl or [1061]shriek; but the spread of Unix has
carried `bang' with it (esp. via the term [1062]bang path) and it is
now certainly the most common spoken name for !. Note that it is used
exclusively for non-emphatic written !; one would not say
"Congratulations bang" (except possibly for humorous purposes), but if
one wanted to specify the exact characters `foo!' one would speak "Eff
oh oh bang". See [1063]shriek, [1064]ASCII. 2. interj. An exclamation
signifying roughly "I have achieved enlightenment!", or "The dynamite
has cleared out my brain!" Often used to acknowledge that one has
perpetrated a [1065]thinko immediately after one has been called on

Node:bang on, Next:[1066]bang path, Previous:[1067]bang, Up:[1068]= B

bang on vt.

To stress-test a piece of hardware or software: "I banged on the new
version of the simulator all day yesterday and it didn't crash once. I
guess it is ready for release." The term [1069]pound on is synonymous.

Node:bang path, Next:[1070]banner, Previous:[1071]bang on, Up:[1072]=
B =

bang path n.

[now historical] An old-style UUCP electronic-mail address specifying
hops to get from some assumed-reachable location to the addressee, so
called because each [1073]hop is signified by a [1074]bang sign. Thus,
for example, the path ...!bigsite!foovax!barbox!me directs people to
route their mail to machine bigsite (presumably a well-known location
accessible to everybody) and from there through the machine foovax to
the account of user me on barbox.

In the bad old days of not so long ago, before autorouting mailers
became commonplace, people often published compound bang addresses
using the { } convention (see [1075]glob) to give paths from several
big machines, in the hopes that one's correspondent might be able to
get mail to one of them reliably (example: ...!{seismo, ut-sally,
ihnp4}!rice!beta!gamma!me). Bang paths of 8 to 10 hops were not
uncommon in 1981. Late-night dial-up UUCP links would cause week-long
transmission times. Bang paths were often selected by both
transmission time and reliability, as messages would often get lost.
See [1076]Internet address, [1077]the network, and [1078]sitename.

Node:banner, Next:[1079]banner ad, Previous:[1080]bang path,
Up:[1081]= B =

banner n.

1. The title page added to printouts by most print spoolers (see
[1082]spool). Typically includes user or account ID information in
very large character-graphics capitals. Also called a `burst page',
because it indicates where to burst (tear apart) fanfold paper to
separate one user's printout from the next. 2. A similar printout
generated (typically on multiple pages of fan-fold paper) from
user-specified text, e.g., by a program such as Unix's banner({1,6}).
3. On interactive software, a first screen containing a logo and/or
author credits and/or a copyright notice. This is probably now the
commonest sense.

Node:banner ad, Next:[1083]banner site, Previous:[1084]banner,
Up:[1085]= B =

banner ad n.

Any of the annoying graphical advertisements that span the tops of way
too many Web pages.

Node:banner site, Next:[1086]bar, Previous:[1087]banner ad, Up:[1088]=
B =

banner site n.

[warez d00dz] A FTP site storing pirated files where one must first
click on several banners and/or subscribe to various `free' services,
usually generating some form of revenues for the site owner, to be
able to access the site. More often than not, the username/password
painfully obtained by clicking on banners and subscribing to bogus
services or mailing lists turns out to be non-working or gives access
to a site that always responds busy. See [1089]ratio site, [1090]leech

Node:bar, Next:[1091]bare metal, Previous:[1092]banner site,
Up:[1093]= B =

bar /bar/ n.

1. [very common] The second [1094]metasyntactic variable, after
[1095]foo and before [1096]baz. "Suppose we have two functions: FOO
and BAR. FOO calls BAR...." 2. Often appended to [1097]foo to produce

Node:bare metal, Next:[1099]barf, Previous:[1100]bar, Up:[1101]= B =

bare metal n.

1. [common] New computer hardware, unadorned with such snares and
delusions as an [1102]operating system, an [1103]HLL, or even
assembler. Commonly used in the phrase `programming on the bare
metal', which refers to the arduous work of [1104]bit bashing needed
to create these basic tools for a new machine. Real bare-metal
programming involves things like building boot proms and BIOS chips,
implementing basic monitors used to test device drivers, and writing
the assemblers that will be used to write the compiler back ends that
will give the new machine a real development environment. 2.
`Programming on the bare metal' is also used to describe a style of
[1105]hand-hacking that relies on bit-level peculiarities of a
particular hardware design, esp. tricks for speed and space
optimization that rely on crocks such as overlapping instructions (or,
as in the famous case described in [1106]The Story of Mel (in Appendix
A), interleaving of opcodes on a magnetic drum to minimize fetch
delays due to the device's rotational latency). This sort of thing has
become less common as the relative costs of programming time and
machine resources have changed, but is still found in heavily
constrained environments such as industrial embedded systems, and in
the code of hackers who just can't let go of that low-level control.
See [1107]Real Programmer.

In the world of personal computing, bare metal programming (especially
in sense 1 but sometimes also in sense 2) is often considered a
[1108]Good Thing, or at least a necessary evil (because these machines
have often been sufficiently slow and poorly designed to make it
necessary; see [1109]ill-behaved). There, the term usually refers to
bypassing the BIOS or OS interface and writing the application to
directly access device registers and machine addresses. "To get 19.2
kilobaud on the serial port, you need to get down to the bare metal."
People who can do this sort of thing well are held in high regard.

Node:barf, Next:[1110]barfmail, Previous:[1111]bare metal, Up:[1112]=
B =

barf /barf/ n.,v.

[common; from mainstream slang meaning `vomit'] 1. interj. Term of
disgust. This is the closest hackish equivalent of the Valspeak "gag
me with a spoon". (Like, euwww!) See [1113]bletch. 2. vi. To say
"Barf!" or emit some similar expression of disgust. "I showed him my
latest hack and he barfed" means only that he complained about it, not
that he literally vomited. 3. vi. To fail to work because of
unacceptable input, perhaps with a suitable error message, perhaps
not. Examples: "The division operation barfs if you try to divide by
0." (That is, the division operation checks for an attempt to divide
by zero, and if one is encountered it causes the operation to fail in
some unspecified, but generally obvious, manner.) "The text editor
barfs if you try to read in a new file before writing out the old
one." See [1114]choke, [1115]gag. In Commonwealth Hackish, `barf' is
generally replaced by `puke' or `vom'. [1116]barf is sometimes also
used as a [1117]metasyntactic variable, like [1118]foo or [1119]bar.

Node:barfmail, Next:[1120]barfulation, Previous:[1121]barf, Up:[1122]=
B =

barfmail n.

Multiple [1123]bounce messages accumulating to the level of serious
annoyance, or worse. The sort of thing that happens when an
inter-network mail gateway goes down or wonky.

Node:barfulation, Next:[1124]barfulous, Previous:[1125]barfmail,
Up:[1126]= B =

barfulation /bar`fyoo-lay'sh*n/ interj.

Variation of [1127]barf used around the Stanford area. An exclamation,
expressing disgust. On seeing some particularly bad code one might
exclaim, "Barfulation! Who wrote this, Quux?"

Node:barfulous, Next:[1128]barn, Previous:[1129]barfulation,
Up:[1130]= B =

barfulous /bar'fyoo-l*s/ adj.

(alt. `barfucious', /bar-fyoo-sh*s/) Said of something that would make
anyone barf, if only for esthetic reasons.

Node:barn, Next:[1131]barney, Previous:[1132]barfulous, Up:[1133]= B =

barn n.

[uncommon; prob. from the nuclear military] An unexpectedly large
quantity of something: a unit of measurement. "Why is /var/adm taking
up so much space?" "The logs have grown to several barns." The source
of this is clear: when physicists were first studying nuclear
interactions, the probability was thought to be proportional to the
cross-sectional area of the nucleus (this probability is still called
the cross-section). Upon experimenting, they discovered the
interactions were far more probable than expected; the nuclei were `as
big as a barn'. The units for cross-sections were christened Barns,
(10^-24 cm^2) and the book containing cross-sections has a picture of
a barn on the cover.

Node:barney, Next:[1134]baroque, Previous:[1135]barn, Up:[1136]= B =

barney n.

In Commonwealth hackish, `barney' is to [1137]fred (sense #1) as
[1138]bar is to [1139]foo. That is, people who commonly use `fred' as
their first metasyntactic variable will often use `barney' second. The
reference is, of course, to Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble in the
Flintstones cartoons.

Node:baroque, Next:[1140]BASIC, Previous:[1141]barney, Up:[1142]= B =

baroque adj.

[common] Feature-encrusted; complex; gaudy; verging on excessive. Said
of hardware or (esp.) software designs, this has many of the
connotations of [1143]elephantine or [1144]monstrosity but is less
extreme and not pejorative in itself. "Metafont even has features to
introduce random variations to its letterform output. Now that is
baroque!" See also [1145]rococo.

Node:BASIC, Next:[1146]batbelt, Previous:[1147]baroque, Up:[1148]= B =

BASIC /bay'-sic/ n.

A programming language, originally designed for Dartmouth's
experimental timesharing system in the early 1960s, which for many
years was the leading cause of brain damage in proto-hackers. Edsger
W. Dijkstra observed in "Selected Writings on Computing: A Personal
Perspective" that "It is practically impossible to teach good
programming style to students that have had prior exposure to BASIC:
as potential programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of
regeneration." This is another case (like [1149]Pascal) of the
cascading [1150]lossage that happens when a language deliberately
designed as an educational toy gets taken too seriously. A novice can
write short BASIC programs (on the order of 10-20 lines) very easily;
writing anything longer (a) is very painful, and (b) encourages bad
habits that will make it harder to use more powerful languages well.
This wouldn't be so bad if historical accidents hadn't made BASIC so
common on low-end micros in the 1980s. As it is, it probably ruined
tens of thousands of potential wizards.

[1995: Some languages called `BASIC' aren't quite this nasty any more,
having acquired Pascal- and C-like procedures and control structures
and shed their line numbers. --ESR]

Note: the name is commonly parsed as Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic
Instruction Code, but this is a [1151]backronym. BASIC was originally
named Basic, simply because it was a simple and basic programming
language. Because most programming language names were in fact
acronyms, BASIC was often capitalized just out of habit or to be
silly. No acronym for BASIC originally existed or was intended (as one
can verify by reading texts through the early 1970s). Later, around
the mid-1970s, people began to make up backronyms for BASIC because
they weren't sure. Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code is
the one that caught on.

Node:batbelt, Next:[1152]batch, Previous:[1153]BASIC, Up:[1154]= B =

batbelt n.

Many hackers routinely hang numerous devices such as pagers,
cell-phones, personal organizers, leatherman multitools, pocket
knives, flashlights, walkie-talkies, even miniature computers from
their belts. When many of these devices are worn at once, the hacker's
belt somewhat resembles Batman's utility belt; hence it is referred to
as a batbelt.

Node:batch, Next:[1155]bathtub curve, Previous:[1156]batbelt,
Up:[1157]= B =

batch adj.

1. Non-interactive. Hackers use this somewhat more loosely than the
traditional technical definitions justify; in particular, switches on
a normally interactive program that prepare it to receive
non-interactive command input are often referred to as `batch mode'
switches. A `batch file' is a series of instructions written to be
handed to an interactive program running in batch mode. 2. Performance
of dreary tasks all at one sitting. "I finally sat down in batch mode
and wrote out checks for all those bills; I guess they'll turn the
electricity back on next week..." 3. `batching up': Accumulation of a
number of small tasks that can be lumped together for greater
efficiency. "I'm batching up those letters to send sometime" "I'm
batching up bottles to take to the recycling center."

Node:bathtub curve, Next:[1158]baud, Previous:[1159]batch, Up:[1160]=
B =

bathtub curve n.

Common term for the curve (resembling an end-to-end section of one of
those claw-footed antique bathtubs) that describes the expected
failure rate of electronics with time: initially high, dropping to
near 0 for most of the system's lifetime, then rising again as it
`tires out'. See also [1161]burn-in period, [1162]infant mortality.

Node:baud, Next:[1163]baud barf, Previous:[1164]bathtub curve,
Up:[1165]= B =

baud /bawd/ n.

[simplified from its technical meaning] n. Bits per second. Hence
kilobaud or Kbaud, thousands of bits per second. The technical meaning
is `level transitions per second'; this coincides with bps only for
two-level modulation with no framing or stop bits. Most hackers are
aware of these nuances but blithely ignore them.

Historical note: `baud' was originally a unit of telegraph signalling
speed, set at one pulse per second. It was proposed at the November,
1926 conference of the Comité Consultatif International Des
Communications Télégraphiques as an improvement on the then standard
practice of referring to line speeds in terms of words per minute, and
named for Jean Maurice Emile Baudot (1845-1903), a French engineer who
did a lot of pioneering work in early teleprinters.

Node:baud barf, Next:[1166]baz, Previous:[1167]baud, Up:[1168]= B =

baud barf /bawd barf/ n.

The garbage one gets a terminal (or terminal emulator) when using a
modem connection with some protocol setting (esp. line speed)
incorrect, or when someone picks up a voice extension on the same
line, or when really bad line noise disrupts the connection. Baud barf
is not completely [1169]random, by the way; hackers with a lot of
serial-line experience can usually tell whether the device at the
other end is expecting a higher or lower speed than the terminal is
set to. Really experienced ones can identify particular speeds.

Node:baz, Next:[1170]bazaar, Previous:[1171]baud barf, Up:[1172]= B =

baz /baz/ n.

1. [common] The third [1173]metasyntactic variable "Suppose we have
three functions: FOO, BAR, and BAZ. FOO calls BAR, which calls
BAZ...." (See also [1174]fum) 2. interj. A term of mild annoyance. In
this usage the term is often drawn out for 2 or 3 seconds, producing
an effect not unlike the bleating of a sheep; /baaaaaaz/. 3.
Occasionally appended to [1175]foo to produce `foobaz'.

Earlier versions of this lexicon derived `baz' as a Stanford
corruption of [1176]bar. However, Pete Samson (compiler of the
[1177]TMRC lexicon) reports it was already current when he joined TMRC
in 1958. He says "It came from "Pogo". Albert the Alligator, when
vexed or outraged, would shout `Bazz Fazz!' or `Rowrbazzle!' The club
layout was said to model the (mythical) New England counties of
Rowrfolk and Bassex (Rowrbazzle mingled with

Node:bazaar, Next:[1178]bboard, Previous:[1179]baz, Up:[1180]= B =

bazaar n.,adj.

In 1997, after meditatating on the success of [1181]Linux for three
years, the Jargon File's own editor ESR wrote an analytical paper on
hacker culture and development models titled [1182]The Cathedral and
the Bazaar. The main argument of the paper was that [1183]Brooks's Law
is not the whole story; given the right social machinery, debugging
can be efficiently parallelized across large numbers of programmers.
The title metaphor caught on (see also [1184]cathedral), and the style
of development typical in the Linux community is now often referred to
as the bazaar mode. Its characteristics include releasing code early
and often, and actively seeking the largest possible pool of peer

Node:bboard, Next:[1185]BBS, Previous:[1186]bazaar, Up:[1187]= B =

bboard /bee'bord/ n.

[contraction of `bulletin board'] 1. Any electronic bulletin board;
esp. used of [1188]BBS systems running on personal micros, less
frequently of a Usenet [1189]newsgroup (in fact, use of this term for
a newsgroup generally marks one either as a [1190]newbie fresh in from
the BBS world or as a real old-timer predating Usenet). 2. At CMU and
other colleges with similar facilities, refers to campus-wide
electronic bulletin boards. 3. The term `physical bboard' is sometimes
used to refer to an old-fashioned, non-electronic cork-and-thumbtack
memo board. At CMU, it refers to a particular one outside the CS

In either of senses 1 or 2, the term is usually prefixed by the name
of the intended board (`the Moonlight Casino bboard' or `market
bboard'); however, if the context is clear, the better-read bboards
may be referred to by name alone, as in (at CMU) "Don't post for-sale
ads on general".

Node:BBS, Next:[1191]BCPL, Previous:[1192]bboard, Up:[1193]= B =

BBS /B-B-S/ n.

[common; abbreviation, `Bulletin Board System'] An electronic bulletin
board system; that is, a message database where people can log in and
leave broadcast messages for others grouped (typically) into
[1194]topic groups. The term was especially applied to the thousands
of local BBS systems that operated during the pre-Internet
microcomputer era of roughly 1980 to 1995, typically run by amateurs
for fun out of their homes on MS-DOS boxes with a single modem line
each. Fans of Usenet and Internet or the big commercial timesharing
bboards such as CompuServe and GEnie tended to consider local BBSes
the low-rent district of the hacker culture, but they served a
valuable function by knitting together lots of hackers and users in
the personal-micro world who would otherwise have been unable to
exchange code at all. Post-Internet, BBSs are likely to be local
newsgroups on an ISP; efficiency has increased but a certain flavor
has been lost. See also [1195]bboard.

Node:BCPL, Next:[1196]beam, Previous:[1197]BBS, Up:[1198]= B =

BCPL // n.

[abbreviation, `Basic Combined Programming Language') A programming
language developed by Martin Richards in Cambridge in 1967. It is
remarkable for its rich syntax, small size of compiler (it can be run
in 16k) and extreme portability. It reached break-even point at a very
early stage, and was the language in which the original [1199]hello
world program was written. It has been ported to so many different
systems that its creator confesses to having lost count. It has only
one data type (a machine word) which can be used as an integer, a
character, a floating point number, a pointer, or almost anything
else, depending on context. BCPL was a precursor of C, which inherited
some of its features.

Node:beam, Next:[1200]beanie key, Previous:[1201]BCPL, Up:[1202]= B =

beam vt.

[from Star Trek Classic's "Beam me up, Scotty!"] 1. To transfer
[1203]softcopy of a file electronically; most often in combining forms
such as `beam me a copy' or `beam that over to his site'. 2. Palm
Pilot users very commonly use this term for the act of exchanging bits
via the infrared links on their machines (this term seems to have
originated with the ill-fated Newton Message Pad). Compare
[1204]blast, [1205]snarf, [1206]BLT.

Node:beanie key, Next:[1207]beep, Previous:[1208]beam, Up:[1209]= B =

beanie key n.

[Mac users] See [1210]command key.

Node:beep, Next:[1211]Befunge, Previous:[1212]beanie key, Up:[1213]= B

beep n.,v.

Syn. [1214]feep. This term is techspeak under MS-DOS and OS/2, and
seems to be generally preferred among micro hobbyists.

Node:Befunge, Next:[1215]beige toaster, Previous:[1216]beep,
Up:[1217]= B =

Befunge n.

A worthy companion to [1218]INTERCAL; a computer language family which
escapes the quotidian limitation of linear control flow and embraces
program counters flying through multiple dimensions with exotic
topologies. Sadly, the Befunge home page has vanished, but a Befunge
version of the [1219]hello world program is at

Node:beige toaster, Next:[1221]bells and whistles,
Previous:[1222]Befunge, Up:[1223]= B =

beige toaster n.

A Macintosh. See [1224]toaster; compare [1225]Macintrash,

Node:bells and whistles, Next:[1227]bells whistles and gongs,
Previous:[1228]beige toaster, Up:[1229]= B =

bells and whistles n.

[common] Features added to a program or system to make it more
[1230]flavorful from a hacker's point of view, without necessarily
adding to its utility for its primary function. Distinguished from
[1231]chrome, which is intended to attract users. "Now that we've got
the basic program working, let's go back and add some bells and
whistles." No one seems to know what distinguishes a bell from a
whistle. The recognized emphatic form is "bells, whistles, and gongs".

It used to be thought that this term derived from the toyboxes on
theater organs. However, the "and gongs" strongly suggests a different
origin, at sea. Before powered horns, ships routinely used bells,
whistles, and gongs to signal each other over longer distances than
voice can carry.

Node:bells whistles and gongs, Next:[1232]benchmark,
Previous:[1233]bells and whistles, Up:[1234]= B =

bells whistles and gongs n.

A standard elaborated form of [1235]bells and whistles; typically said
with a pronounced and ironic accent on the `gongs'.

Node:benchmark, Next:[1236]Berkeley Quality Software,
Previous:[1237]bells whistles and gongs, Up:[1238]= B =

benchmark n.

[techspeak] An inaccurate measure of computer performance. "In the
computer industry, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and
benchmarks." Well-known ones include Whetstone, Dhrystone, Rhealstone
(see [1239]h), the Gabriel LISP benchmarks (see [1240]gabriel), the
SPECmark suite, and LINPACK. See also [1241]machoflops, [1242]MIPS,
[1243]smoke and mirrors.

Node:Berkeley Quality Software, Next:[1244]berklix,
Previous:[1245]benchmark, Up:[1246]= B =

Berkeley Quality Software adj.

(often abbreviated `BQS') Term used in a pejorative sense to refer to
software that was apparently created by rather spaced-out hackers late
at night to solve some unique problem. It usually has nonexistent,
incomplete, or incorrect documentation, has been tested on at least
two examples, and core dumps when anyone else attempts to use it. This
term was frequently applied to early versions of the dbx(1) debugger.
See also [1247]Berzerkeley.

Note to British and Commonwealth readers: that's /berk'lee/, not
/bark'lee/ as in British Received Pronunciation.

Node:berklix, Next:[1248]Berzerkeley, Previous:[1249]Berkeley Quality
Software, Up:[1250]= B =

berklix /berk'liks/ n.,adj.

[contraction of `Berkeley Unix'] See [1251]BSD. Not used at Berkeley
itself. May be more common among [1252]suits attempting to sound like
cognoscenti than among hackers, who usually just say `BSD'.

Node:Berzerkeley, Next:[1253]beta, Previous:[1254]berklix, Up:[1255]=
B =

Berzerkeley /b*r-zer'klee/ n.

[from `berserk', via the name of a now-deceased record label; poss.
originated by famed columnist Herb Caen] Humorous distortion of
`Berkeley' used esp. to refer to the practices or products of the
[1256]BSD Unix hackers. See [1257]software bloat,
[1258]Missed'em-five, [1259]Berkeley Quality Software.

Mainstream use of this term in reference to the cultural and political
peculiarities of UC Berkeley as a whole has been reported from as far
back as the 1960s.

Node:beta, Next:[1260]BFI, Previous:[1261]Berzerkeley, Up:[1262]= B =

beta /bay't*/, /be't*/ or (Commonwealth) /bee't*/ n.

1. Mostly working, but still under test; usu. used with `in': `in
beta'. In the [1263]Real World, systems (hardware or software)
software often go through two stages of release testing: Alpha
(in-house) and Beta (out-house?). Beta releases are generally made to
a group of lucky (or unlucky) trusted customers. 2. Anything that is
new and experimental. "His girlfriend is in beta" means that he is
still testing for compatibility and reserving judgment. 3. Flaky;
dubious; suspect (since beta software is notoriously buggy).

Historical note: More formally, to beta-test is to test a pre-release
(potentially unreliable) version of a piece of software by making it
available to selected (or self-selected) customers and users. This
term derives from early 1960s terminology for product cycle
checkpoints, first used at IBM but later standard throughout the
industry. `Alpha Test' was the unit, module, or component test phase;
`Beta Test' was initial system test. These themselves came from
earlier A- and B-tests for hardware. The A-test was a feasibility and
manufacturability evaluation done before any commitment to design and
development. The B-test was a demonstration that the engineering model
functioned as specified. The C-test (corresponding to today's beta)
was the B-test performed on early samples of the production design,
and the D test was the C test repeated after the model had been in
production a while.

Node:BFI, Next:[1264]bible, Previous:[1265]beta, Up:[1266]= B =

BFI /B-F-I/ n.

See [1267]brute force and ignorance. Also encountered in the variants
`BFMI', `brute force and massive ignorance' and `BFBI' `brute force
and bloody ignorance'. In dome parts of the U.S. this abbreviation was
probably reinforced by a company called Browning-Ferris Industries who
used to be in the waste-management business; a large BFI logo in
white-on-blue could be seen on the sides of garbage trucks.

Node:bible, Next:[1268]BiCapitalization, Previous:[1269]BFI,
Up:[1270]= B =

bible n.

1. One of a small number of fundamental source books such as
[1271]Knuth, [1272]K&R, or the [1273]Camel Book. 2. The most detailed
and authoritative reference for a particular language, operating
system, or other complex software system.

Node:BiCapitalization, Next:[1274]B1FF, Previous:[1275]bible,
Up:[1276]= B =

BiCapitalization n.

The act said to have been performed on trademarks (such as
[1277]PostScript, NeXT, [1278]NeWS, VisiCalc, FrameMaker, TK!solver,
EasyWriter) that have been raised above the ruck of common coinage by
nonstandard capitalization. Too many [1279]marketroid types think this
sort of thing is really cute, even the 2,317th time they do it.
Compare [1280]studlycaps.

Node:B1FF, Next:[1281]BI, Previous:[1282]BiCapitalization, Up:[1283]=
B =

B1FF /bif/ [Usenet] (alt. `BIFF') n.

The most famous [1284]pseudo, and the prototypical [1285]newbie.
Articles from B1FF feature all uppercase letters sprinkled liberally
with bangs, typos, `cute' misspellings (EVRY BUDY LUVS GOOD OLD BIFF
LIKE THIS!!!), use (and often misuse) of fragments of [1286]talk mode
abbreviations, a long [1287]sig block (sometimes even a [1288]doubled
sig), and unbounded naivete. B1FF posts articles using his elder
brother's VIC-20. B1FF's location is a mystery, as his articles appear
to come from a variety of sites. However, [1289]BITNET seems to be the
most frequent origin. The theory that B1FF is a denizen of BITNET is
supported by B1FF's (unfortunately invalid) electronic mail address:

[1993: Now It Can Be Told! My spies inform me that B1FF was originally
created by Joe Talmadge , representing two
cartoon eyes and a mouth. These were originally invented in an SF
fanzine called APA-L and imported to BIX by one of the earliest users.

Node:black art, Next:[1442]black hole, Previous:[1443]bixie,
Up:[1444]= B =

black art n.

[common] A collection of arcane, unpublished, and (by implication)
mostly ad-hoc techniques developed for a particular application or
systems area (compare [1445]black magic). VLSI design and compiler
code optimization were (in their beginnings) considered classic
examples of black art; as theory developed they became [1446]deep
magic, and once standard textbooks had been written, became merely
[1447]heavy wizardry. The huge proliferation of formal and informal
channels for spreading around new computer-related technologies during
the last twenty years has made both the term `black art' and what it
describes less common than formerly. See also [1448]voodoo

Node:black hole, Next:[1449]black magic, Previous:[1450]black art,
Up:[1451]= B =

black hole n.,vt.

[common] What data (a piece of email or netnews, or a stream of TCP/IP
packets) has fallen into if it disappears mysteriously between its
origin and destination sites (that is, without returning a
[1452]bounce message). "I think there's a black hole at foovax!"
conveys suspicion that site foovax has been dropping a lot of stuff on
the floor lately (see [1453]drop on the floor). The implied metaphor
of email as interstellar travel is interesting in itself. Readily
verbed as `blackhole': "That router is blackholing IDP packets."
Compare [1454]bit bucket and see [1455]RBL.

Node:black magic, Next:[1456]Black Screen of Death,
Previous:[1457]black hole, Up:[1458]= B =

black magic n.

[common] A technique that works, though nobody really understands why.
More obscure than [1459]voodoo programming, which may be done by
cookbook. Compare also [1460]black art, [1461]deep magic, and
[1462]magic number (sense 2).

Node:Black Screen of Death, Next:[1463]Black Thursday,
Previous:[1464]black magic, Up:[1465]= B =

Black Screen of Death n.

[prob. related to the Floating Head of Death in a famous "Far Side"
cartoon.] A failure mode of [1466]Microsloth Windows. On an attempt to
launch a DOS box, a networked Windows system not uncommonly blanks the
screen and locks up the PC so hard that it requires a cold [1467]boot
to recover. This unhappy phenomenon is known as The Black Screen of
Death. See also [1468]Blue Screen of Death, which has become rather
more common.

Node:Black Thursday, Next:[1469]blammo, Previous:[1470]Black Screen of
Death, Up:[1471]= B =

Black Thursday n.

February 8th, 1996 - the day of the signing into law of the [1472]CDA,
so called by analogy with the catastrophic "Black Friday" in 1929 that
began the Great Depression.

Node:blammo, Next:[1473]blargh, Previous:[1474]Black Thursday,
Up:[1475]= B =

blammo v.

[Oxford Brookes University and alumni, UK] To forcibly remove someone
from any interactive system, especially talker systems. The operators,
who may remain hidden, may `blammo' a user who is misbehaving. Very
similar to MIT [1476]gun; in fact, the `blammo-gun' is a notional
device used to `blammo' someone. While in actual fact the only
incarnation of the blammo-gun is the command used to forcibly eject a
user, operators speak of different levels of blammo-gun fire; e.g., a
blammo-gun to `stun' will temporarily remove someone, but a blammo-gun
set to `maim' will stop someone coming back on for a while.

Node:blargh, Next:[1477]blast, Previous:[1478]blammo, Up:[1479]= B =

blargh /blarg/ n.

[MIT; now common] The opposite of [1480]ping, sense 5; an exclamation
indicating that one has absorbed or is emitting a quantum of
unhappiness. Less common than [1481]ping.

Node:blast, Next:[1482]blat, Previous:[1483]blargh, Up:[1484]= B =

blast 1. v.,n.

Synonym for [1485]BLT, used esp. for large data sends over a network
or comm line. Opposite of [1486]snarf. Usage: uncommon. The variant
`blat' has been reported. 2. vt. [HP/Apollo] Synonymous with
[1487]nuke (sense 3). Sometimes the message Unable to kill all
processes. Blast them (y/n)? would appear in the command window upon

Node:blat, Next:[1488]bletch, Previous:[1489]blast, Up:[1490]= B =

blat n.

1. Syn. [1491]blast, sense 1. 2. See [1492]thud.

Node:bletch, Next:[1493]bletcherous, Previous:[1494]blat, Up:[1495]= B

bletch /blech/ interj.

[very common; from Yiddish/German `brechen', to vomit, poss. via
comic-strip exclamation `blech'] Term of disgust. Often used in "Ugh,
bletch". Compare [1496]barf.

Node:bletcherous, Next:[1497]blink, Previous:[1498]bletch, Up:[1499]=
B =

bletcherous /blech'*-r*s/ adj.

Disgusting in design or function; esthetically unappealing. This word
is seldom used of people. "This keyboard is bletcherous!" (Perhaps the
keys don't work very well, or are misplaced.) See [1500]losing,
[1501]cretinous, [1502]bagbiting, [1503]bogus, and [1504]random. The
term [1505]bletcherous applies to the esthetics of the thing so
described; similarly for [1506]cretinous. By contrast, something that
is `losing' or `bagbiting' may be failing to meet objective criteria.
See also [1507]bogus and [1508]random, which have richer and wider
shades of meaning than any of the above.

Node:blink, Next:[1509]blinkenlights, Previous:[1510]bletcherous,
Up:[1511]= B =

blink vi.,n.

To use a navigator or off-line message reader to minimize time spent
on-line to a commercial network service (a necessity in many places
outside the U.S. where the telecoms monopolies charge per-minute for
local calls). This term attained wide use in the UK, but is rare or
unknown in the US.

Node:blinkenlights, Next:[1512]blit, Previous:[1513]blink, Up:[1514]=
B =

blinkenlights /blink'*n-li:tz/ n.

[common] Front-panel diagnostic lights on a computer, esp. a
[1515]dinosaur. Now that dinosaurs are rare, this term usually refers
to status lights on a modem, network hub, or the like.

This term derives from the last word of the famous blackletter-Gothic
sign in mangled pseudo-German that once graced about half the computer
rooms in the English-speaking world. One version ran in its entirety
as follows:


Das computermachine ist nicht fuer gefingerpoken und mittengrabben.
Ist easy schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und poppencorken
mit spitzensparken. Ist nicht fuer gewerken bei das dumpkopfen. Das
rubbernecken sichtseeren keepen das cotten-pickenen hans in das
pockets muss; relaxen und watchen das blinkenlichten.

This silliness dates back at least as far as 1959 at Stanford
University and had already gone international by the early 1960s, when
it was reported at London University's ATLAS computing site. There are
several variants of it in circulation, some of which actually do end
with the word `blinkenlights'.

In an amusing example of turnabout-is-fair-play, German hackers have
developed their own versions of the blinkenlights poster in fractured
English, one of which is reproduced here:


This room is fullfilled mit special electronische equippment.
Fingergrabbing and pressing the cnoeppkes from the computers is
allowed for die experts only! So all the "lefthanders" stay away
and do not disturben the brainstorming von here working
intelligencies. Otherwise you will be out thrown and kicked
anderswhere! Also: please keep still and only watchen astaunished
the blinkenlights.

See also [1516]geef.

Old-time hackers sometimes get nostalgic for blinkenlights because
they were so much more fun to look at than a blank panel. Sadly, very
few computers still have them (the three LEDs on a PC keyboard
certainly don't count). The obvious reasons (cost of wiring, cost of
front-panel cutouts, almost nobody needs or wants to interpret
machine-register states on the fly anymore) are only part of the
story. Another part of it is that radio-frequency leakage from the
lamp wiring was beginning to be a problem as far back as transistor
machines. But the most fundamental fact is that there are very few
signals slow enough to blink an LED these days! With slow CPUs, you
could watch the bus register or instruction counter tick, but at
33/66/150MHz it's all a blur.

Finally, a version updated for the Internet has been seen on


Das Internet is nicht fuer gefingerclicken und giffengrabben. Ist
easy droppenpacket der routers und overloaden der backbone mit der
spammen und der me-tooen. Ist nicht fuer gewerken bei das
dumpkopfen. Das mausklicken sichtseeren keepen das bandwit-spewin
hans in das pockets muss; relaxen und watchen das cursorblinken.

This newest version partly reflects reports that the word
`blinkenlights' is (in 1999) undergoing something of a revival in
usage, but applied to networking equipment. The transmit and receive
lights on routers, activity lights on switches and hubs, and other
network equipment often blink in visually pleasing and seemingly
coordinated ways. Although this is different in some ways from
register readings, a tall stack of Cisco equipment or a 19-inch rack
of ISDN terminals can provoke a similar feeling of hypnotic awe,
especially in a darkened network operations center or server room.

Node:blit, Next:[1517]blitter, Previous:[1518]blinkenlights,
Up:[1519]= B =

blit /blit/ vt.

1. [common] To copy a large array of bits from one part of a
computer's memory to another part, particularly when the memory is
being used to determine what is shown on a display screen. "The
storage allocator picks through the table and copies the good parts up
into high memory, and then blits it all back down again." See
[1520]bitblt, [1521]BLT, [1522]dd, [1523]cat, [1524]blast,
[1525]snarf. More generally, to perform some operation (such as
toggling) on a large array of bits while moving them. 2. [historical,
rare] Sometimes all-capitalized as `BLIT': an early experimental
bit-mapped terminal designed by Rob Pike at Bell Labs, later
commercialized as the AT&T 5620. (The folk etymology from `Bell Labs
Intelligent Terminal' is incorrect. Its creators liked to claim that
"Blit" stood for the Bacon, Lettuce, and Interactive Tomato.)

Node:blitter, Next:[1526]blivet, Previous:[1527]blit, Up:[1528]= B =

blitter /blit'r/ n.

[common] A special-purpose chip or hardware system built to perform
[1529]blit operations, esp. used for fast implementation of bit-mapped
graphics. The Commodore Amiga and a few other micros have these, but
since 1990 the trend has been away from them (however, see [1530]cycle
of reincarnation). Syn. [1531]raster blaster.

Node:blivet, Next:[1532]bloatware, Previous:[1533]blitter, Up:[1534]=
B =

blivet /bliv'*t/ n.

[allegedly from a World War II military term meaning "ten pounds of
manure in a five-pound bag"] 1. An intractable problem. 2. A crucial
piece of hardware that can't be fixed or replaced if it breaks. 3. A
tool that has been hacked over by so many incompetent programmers that
it has become an unmaintainable tissue of hacks. 4. An out-of-control
but unkillable development effort. 5. An embarrassing bug that pops up
during a customer demo. 6. In the subjargon of computer security
specialists, a denial-of-service attack performed by hogging limited
resources that have no access controls (for example, shared spool
space on a multi-user system).

This term has other meanings in other technical cultures; among
experimental physicists and hardware engineers of various kinds it
seems to mean any random object of unknown purpose (similar to hackish
use of [1535]frob). It has also been used to describe an amusing
trick-the-eye drawing resembling a three-pronged fork that appears to
depict a three-dimensional object until one realizes that the parts
fit together in an impossible way.

Node:bloatware, Next:[1536]BLOB, Previous:[1537]blivet, Up:[1538]= B =

bloatware n.

[common] Software that provides minimal functionality while requiring
a disproportionate amount of diskspace and memory. Especially used for
application and OS upgrades. This term is very common in the
Windows/NT world. So is its cause.

Node:BLOB, Next:[1539]block, Previous:[1540]bloatware, Up:[1541]= B =


1. n. [acronym: Binary Large OBject] Used by database people to refer
to any random large block of bits that needs to be stored in a
database, such as a picture or sound file. The essential point about a
BLOB is that it's an object that cannot be interpreted within the
database itself. 2. v. To [1542]mailbomb someone by sending a BLOB to
him/her; esp. used as a mild threat. "If that program crashes again,
I'm going to BLOB the core dump to you."

Node:block, Next:[1543]block transfer computations,
Previous:[1544]BLOB, Up:[1545]= B =

block v.

[common; from process scheduling terminology in OS theory] 1. vi. To
delay or sit idle while waiting for something. "We're blocking until
everyone gets here." Compare [1546]busy-wait. 2. `block on' vt. To
block, waiting for (something). "Lunch is blocked on Phil's arrival."

Node:block transfer computations, Next:[1547]Bloggs Family,
Previous:[1548]block, Up:[1549]= B =

block transfer computations n.

[from the television series "Dr. Who"] Computations so fiendishly
subtle and complex that they could not be performed by machines. Used
to refer to any task that should be expressible as an algorithm in
theory, but isn't. (The Z80's LDIR instruction, "Computed Block
Transfer with increment", may also be relevant.)

Node:Bloggs Family, Next:[1550]blow an EPROM, Previous:[1551]block
transfer computations, Up:[1552]= B =

Bloggs Family n.

An imaginary family consisting of Fred and Mary Bloggs and their
children. Used as a standard example in knowledge representation to
show the difference between extensional and intensional objects. For
example, every occurrence of "Fred Bloggs" is the same unique person,
whereas occurrences of "person" may refer to different people. Members
of the Bloggs family have been known to pop up in bizarre places such
as the old [1553]DEC Telephone Directory. Compare [1554]Dr. Fred
Mbogo; [1555]J. Random Hacker; [1556]Fred Foobar.

Node:blow an EPROM, Next:[1557]blow away, Previous:[1558]Bloggs
Family, Up:[1559]= B =

blow an EPROM /bloh *n ee'prom/ v.

(alt. `blast an EPROM', `burn an EPROM') To program a read-only
memory, e.g. for use with an embedded system. This term arose because
the programming process for the Programmable Read-Only Memories
(PROMs) that preceded present-day Erasable Programmable Read-Only
Memories (EPROMs) involved intentionally blowing tiny electrical fuses
on the chip. The usage lives on (it's too vivid and expressive to
discard) even though the write process on EPROMs is nondestructive.

Node:blow away, Next:[1560]blow out, Previous:[1561]blow an EPROM,
Up:[1562]= B =

blow away vt.

To remove (files and directories) from permanent storage, generally by
accident. "He reformatted the wrong partition and blew away last
night's netnews." Oppose [1563]nuke.

Node:blow out, Next:[1564]blow past, Previous:[1565]blow away,
Up:[1566]= B =

blow out vi.

[prob. from mining and tunneling jargon] Of software, to fail
spectacularly; almost as serious as [1567]crash and burn. See
[1568]blow past, [1569]blow up, [1570]die horribly.

Node:blow past, Next:[1571]blow up, Previous:[1572]blow out,
Up:[1573]= B =

blow past vt.

To [1574]blow out despite a safeguard. "The server blew past the 5K
reserve buffer."

Node:blow up, Next:[1575]BLT, Previous:[1576]blow past, Up:[1577]= B =

blow up vi.

1. [scientific computation] To become unstable. Suggests that the
computation is diverging so rapidly that it will soon overflow or at
least go [1578]nonlinear. 2. Syn. [1579]blow out.

Node:BLT, Next:[1580]Blue Book, Previous:[1581]blow up, Up:[1582]= B =

BLT /B-L-T/, /bl*t/ or (rarely) /belt/ n.,vt.

Synonym for [1583]blit. This is the original form of [1584]blit and
the ancestor of [1585]bitblt. It referred to any large bit-field copy
or move operation (one resource-intensive memory-shuffling operation
done on pre-paged versions of ITS, WAITS, and TOPS-10 was sardonically
referred to as `The Big BLT'). The jargon usage has outlasted the
[1586]PDP-10 BLock Transfer instruction from which [1587]BLT derives;
nowadays, the assembler mnemonic [1588]BLT almost always means `Branch
if Less Than zero'.

Node:Blue Book, Next:[1589]blue box, Previous:[1590]BLT, Up:[1591]= B

Blue Book n.

1. Informal name for one of the four standard references on the
page-layout and graphics-control language [1592]PostScript
("PostScript Language Tutorial and Cookbook", Adobe Systems,
Addison-Wesley 1985, QA76.73.P67P68, ISBN 0-201-10179-3); the other
three official guides are known as the [1593]Green Book, the [1594]Red
Book, and the [1595]White Book (sense 2). 2. Informal name for one of
the three standard references on Smalltalk: "Smalltalk-80: The
Language and its Implementation", David Robson, Addison-Wesley 1983,
QA76.8.S635G64, ISBN 0-201-11371-63 (this book also has green and red
siblings). 3. Any of the 1988 standards issued by the CCITT's ninth
plenary assembly. These include, among other things, the X.400 email
spec and the Group 1 through 4 fax standards. See also [1596]book

Node:blue box, Next:[1597]Blue Glue, Previous:[1598]Blue Book,
Up:[1599]= B =

blue box

n. 1. obs. Once upon a time, before all-digital switches made it
possible for the phone companies to move them out of band, one could
actually hear the switching tones used to route long-distance calls.
Early [1600]phreakers built devices called `blue boxes' that could
reproduce these tones, which could be used to commandeer portions of
the phone network. (This was not as hard as it may sound; one early
phreak acquired the sobriquet `Captain Crunch' after he proved that he
could generate switching tones with a plastic whistle pulled out of a
box of Captain Crunch cereal!) There were other colors of box with
more specialized phreaking uses; red boxes, black boxes, silver boxes,
etc. 2. n. An [1601]IBM machine, especially a large (non-PC) one.

Node:Blue Glue, Next:[1602]blue goo, Previous:[1603]blue box,
Up:[1604]= B =

Blue Glue n.

[IBM] IBM's SNA (Systems Network Architecture), an incredibly
[1605]losing and [1606]bletcherous communications protocol widely
favored at commercial shops that don't know any better. The official
IBM definition is "that which binds blue boxes together." See
[1607]fear and loathing. It may not be irrelevant that Blue Glue is
the trade name of a 3M product that is commonly used to hold down the
carpet squares to the removable panel floors common in [1608]dinosaur
pens. A correspondent at U. Minn. reports that the CS department there
has about 80 bottles of the stuff hanging about, so they often refer
to any messy work to be done as `using the blue glue'.

Node:blue goo, Next:[1609]Blue Screen of Death, Previous:[1610]Blue
Glue, Up:[1611]= B =

blue goo n.

Term for `police' [1612]nanobots intended to prevent [1613]gray goo,
denature hazardous waste, destroy pollution, put ozone back into the
stratosphere, prevent halitosis, and promote truth, justice, and the
American way, etc. The term `Blue Goo' can be found in Dr. Seuss's
"Fox In Socks" to refer to a substance much like bubblegum. `Would you
like to chew blue goo, sir?'. See [1614]nanotechnology.

Node:Blue Screen of Death, Next:[1615]blue wire, Previous:[1616]blue
goo, Up:[1617]= B =

Blue Screen of Death n.

[common] This term is closely related to the older [1618]Black Screen
of Death but much more common (many non-hackers have picked it up).
Due to the extreme fragility and bugginess of Microsoft Windows
misbehaving applications can readily crash the OS (and the OS
sometimes crashes itself spontaneously). The Blue Screen of Death,
sometimes decorated with hex error codes, is what you get when this
happens. (Commonly abbreviated [1619]BSOD.)

The following entry from the [1620]Salon Haiku Contest, seems to have
predated popular use of the term:
Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death
No one hears your screams.

Node:blue wire, Next:[1621]blurgle, Previous:[1622]Blue Screen of
Death, Up:[1623]= B =

blue wire n.

[IBM] Patch wires (esp. 30 AWG gauge) added to circuit boards at the
factory to correct design or fabrication problems. Blue wire is not
necessarily blue, the term describes function rather than color. These
may be necessary if there hasn't been time to design and qualify
another board version. In Great Britain this can be `bodge wire',
after mainstreanm slang `bodge' for a clumsy improvisation or sloppy
job of work. Compare [1624]purple wire, [1625]red wire, [1626]yellow
wire, [1627]pink wire.

Node:blurgle, Next:[1628]BNF, Previous:[1629]blue wire, Up:[1630]= B =

blurgle /bler'gl/ n.

[UK] Spoken [1631]metasyntactic variable, to indicate some text that
is obvious from context, or which is already known. If several words
are to be replaced, blurgle may well be doubled or tripled. "To look
for something in several files use `grep string blurgle blurgle'." In
each case, "blurgle blurgle" would be understood to be replaced by the
file you wished to search. Compare [1632]mumble, sense 7.

Node:BNF, Next:[1633]boa, Previous:[1634]blurgle, Up:[1635]= B =

BNF /B-N-F/ n.

1. [techspeak] Acronym for `Backus Normal Form' (later retronymed to
`Backus-Naur Form' because BNF was not in fact a normal form), a
metasyntactic notation used to specify the syntax of programming
languages, command sets, and the like. Widely used for language
descriptions but seldom documented anywhere, so that it must usually
be learned by osmosis from other hackers. Consider this BNF for a U.S.
postal address:

::= | "."

::= []

::= []

::= ","

This translates into English as: "A postal-address consists of a
name-part, followed by a street-address part, followed by a zip-code
part. A personal-part consists of either a first name or an initial
followed by a dot. A name-part consists of either: a personal-part
followed by a last name followed by an optional `jr-part' (Jr., Sr.,
or dynastic number) and end-of-line, or a personal part followed by a
name part (this rule illustrates the use of recursion in BNFs,
covering the case of people who use multiple first and middle names
and/or initials). A street address consists of an optional apartment
specifier, followed by a street number, followed by a street name. A
zip-part consists of a town-name, followed by a comma, followed by a
state code, followed by a ZIP-code followed by an end-of-line." Note
that many things (such as the format of a personal-part, apartment
specifier, or ZIP-code) are left unspecified. These are presumed to be
obvious from context or detailed somewhere nearby. See also
[1636]parse. 2. Any of a number of variants and extensions of BNF
proper, possibly containing some or all of the [1637]regexp wildcards
such as * or +. In fact the example above isn't the pure form invented
for the Algol-60 report; it uses [], which was introduced a few years
later in IBM's PL/I definition but is now universally recognized. 3.
In [1638]science-fiction fandom, a `Big-Name Fan' (someone famous or
notorious). Years ago a fan started handing out black-on-green BNF
buttons at SF conventions; this confused the hacker contingent

Node:boa, Next:[1639]board, Previous:[1640]BNF, Up:[1641]= B =

boa [IBM] n.

Any one of the fat cables that lurk under the floor in a
[1642]dinosaur pen. Possibly so called because they display a
ferocious life of their own when you try to lay them straight and flat
after they have been coiled for some time. It is rumored within IBM
that channel cables for the 370 are limited to 200 feet because beyond
that length the boas get dangerous -- and it is worth noting that one
of the major cable makers uses the trademark `Anaconda'.

Node:board, Next:[1643]boat anchor, Previous:[1644]boa, Up:[1645]= B =

board n.

1. In-context synonym for [1646]bboard; sometimes used even for Usenet
newsgroups (but see usage note under [1647]bboard, sense 1). 2. An
electronic circuit board.

Node:boat anchor, Next:[1648]bob, Previous:[1649]board, Up:[1650]= B =

boat anchor n.

[common; from ham radio] 1. Like [1651]doorstop but more severe;
implies that the offending hardware is irreversibly dead or useless.
"That was a working motherboard once. One lightning strike later,
instant boat anchor!" 2. A person who just takes up space. 3. Obsolete
but still working hardware, especially when used of an old S100-bus
hobbyist system; originally a term of annoyance, but became more and
more affectionate as the hardware became more and more obsolete.

Node:bob, Next:[1652]bodysurf code, Previous:[1653]boat anchor,
Up:[1654]= B =

bob n.

At [1655]Demon Internet, all tech support personnel are called "Bob".
(Female support personnel have an option on "Bobette"). This has
nothing to do with Bob the divine drilling-equipment salesman of the
[1656]Church of the SubGenius. Nor is it acronymized from "Brother Of
[1657]BOFH", though all parties agree it could have been. Rather, it
was triggered by an unusually large draft of new tech-support people
in 1995. It was observed that there would be much duplication of
names. To ease the confusion, it was decided that all support techs
would henceforth be known as "Bob", and identity badges were created
labelled "Bob 1" and "Bob 2". ("No, we never got any further" reports
a witness).

The reason for "Bob" rather than anything else is due to a [1658]luser
calling and asking to speak to "Bob", despite the fact that no "Bob"
was currently working for Tech Support. Since we all know "the
customer is always right", it was decided that there had to be at
least one "Bob" on duty at all times, just in case.

This sillyness inexorably snowballed. Shift leaders and managers began
to refer to their groups of "bobs". Whole ranks of support machines
were set up (and still exist in the DNS as of 1999) as bob1 through
bobN. Then came alt.tech-support.recovery, and it was filled with
Demon support personnel. They all referred to themselves, and to
others, as `bob', and after a while it caught on. There is now a
[1659]Bob Code describing the Bob nature.

Node:bodysurf code, Next:[1660]BOF, Previous:[1661]bob, Up:[1662]= B =

bodysurf code n.

A program or segment of code written quickly in the heat of
inspiration without the benefit of formal design or deep thought. Like
its namesake sport, the result is too often a wipeout that leaves the
programmer eating sand.

Node:BOF, Next:[1663]BOFH, Previous:[1664]bodysurf code, Up:[1665]= B

BOF /B-O-F/ or /bof/ n.

1. [common] Abbreviation for the phrase "Birds Of a Feather" (flocking
together), an informal discussion group and/or bull session scheduled
on a conference program. It is not clear where or when this term
originated, but it is now associated with the USENIX conferences for
Unix techies and was already established there by 1984. It was used
earlier than that at DECUS conferences and is reported to have been
common at SHARE meetings as far back as the early 1960s. 2. Acronym,
`Beginning of File'.

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BOFH // n.

[common] Acronym, Bastard Operator From Hell. A system administrator
with absolutely no tolerance for [1669]lusers. "You say you need more
filespace? Seems to me you have plenty
left..." Many BOFHs (and others who would be BOFHs if they could get
away with it) hang out in the newsgroup alt.sysadmin.recovery,
although there has also been created a top-level newsgroup hierarchy
(bofh.*) of their own.

Several people have written stories about BOFHs. The set usually
considered canonical is by Simon Travaglia and may be found at the
[1670]Bastard Home Page. BOFHs and BOFH wannabes hang out on
[1671]scary devil monastery and wield [1672]LARTs.

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B =

bogo-sort /boh`goh-sort'/ n.

(var. `stupid-sort') The archetypical perversely awful algorithm (as
opposed to [1676]bubble sort, which is merely the generic bad
algorithm). Bogo-sort is equivalent to repeatedly throwing a deck of
cards in the air, picking them up at random, and then testing whether
they are in order. It serves as a sort of canonical example of
awfulness. Looking at a program and seeing a dumb algorithm, one might
say "Oh, I see, this program uses bogo-sort." Esp. appropriate for
algorithms with factorial or super-exponential running time in the
average case and probabilistically infinite worst-case running time.
Compare [1677]bogus, [1678]brute force, [1679]lasherism.

A spectacular variant of bogo-sort has been proposed which has the
interesting property that, if the Many Worlds interpretation of
quantum mechanics is true, it can sort an arbitrarily large array in
constant time. (In the Many-Worlds model, the result of any quantum
action is to split the universe-before into a sheaf of
universes-after, one for each possible way the state vector can
collapse; in any one of the universes-after the result appears
random.) The steps are: 1. Permute the array randomly using a quantum
process, 2. If the array is not sorted, destroy the universe.
Implementation of step 2 is left as an exercise for the reader.

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Up:[1682]= B =

bogometer /boh-gom'-*t-er/ n.

A notional instrument for measuring [1683]bogosity. Compare the
[1684]Troll-O-Meter and the `wankometer' described in the [1685]wank
entry; see also [1686]bogus.

Node:BogoMIPS, Next:[1687]bogon, Previous:[1688]bogometer, Up:[1689]=
B =

BogoMIPS /bo'go-mips/ n.

The number of million times a second a processor can do absolutely
nothing. The [1690]Linux OS measures BogoMIPS at startup in order to
calibrate some soft timing loops that will be used later on; details
at [1691]the BogoMIPS mini-HOWTO. The name Linus chose, of course, is
an ironic comment on the uselessness of all other [1692]MIPS figures.

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Up:[1695]= B =

bogon /boh'gon/ n.

[very common; by analogy with proton/electron/neutron, but doubtless
reinforced after 1980 by the similarity to Douglas Adams's `Vogons';
see the [1696]Bibliography in Appendix C and note that Arthur Dent
actually mispronounces `Vogons' as `Bogons' at one point] 1. The
elementary particle of bogosity (see [1697]quantum bogodynamics). For
instance, "the Ethernet is emitting bogons again" means that it is
broken or acting in an erratic or bogus fashion. 2. A query packet
sent from a TCP/IP domain resolver to a root server, having the reply
bit set instead of the query bit. 3. Any bogus or incorrectly formed
packet sent on a network. 4. By synecdoche, used to refer to any bogus
thing, as in "I'd like to go to lunch with you but I've got to go to
the weekly staff bogon". 5. A person who is bogus or who says bogus
things. This was historically the original usage, but has been
overtaken by its derivative senses 1-4. See also [1698]bogosity,
[1699]bogus; compare [1700]psyton, [1701]fat electrons, [1702]magic

The bogon has become the type case for a whole bestiary of nonce
particle names, including the `clutron' or `cluon' (indivisible
particle of cluefulness, obviously the antiparticle of the bogon) and
the futon (elementary particle of [1703]randomness, or sometimes of
lameness). These are not so much live usages in themselves as examples
of a live meta-usage: that is, it has become a standard joke or
linguistic maneuver to "explain" otherwise mysterious circumstances by
inventing nonce particle names. And these imply nonce particle
theories, with all their dignity or lack thereof (we might note
parenthetically that this is a generalization from "(bogus particle)
theories" to "bogus (particle theories)"!). Perhaps such particles are
the modern-day equivalents of trolls and wood-nymphs as standard
starting-points around which to construct explanatory myths. Of
course, playing on an existing word (as in the `futon') yields
additional flavor. Compare [1704]magic smoke.

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Up:[1707]= B =

bogon filter /boh'gon fil'tr/ n.

Any device, software or hardware, that limits or suppresses the flow
and/or emission of bogons. "Engineering hacked a bogon filter between
the Cray and the VAXen, and now we're getting fewer dropped packets."
See also [1708]bogosity, [1709]bogus.

Node:bogon flux, Next:[1710]bogosity, Previous:[1711]bogon filter,
Up:[1712]= B =

bogon flux /boh'gon fluhks/ n.

A measure of a supposed field of [1713]bogosity emitted by a speaker,
measured by a [1714]bogometer; as a speaker starts to wander into
increasing bogosity a listener might say "Warning, warning, bogon flux
is rising". See [1715]quantum bogodynamics.

Node:bogosity, Next:[1716]bogotify, Previous:[1717]bogon flux,
Up:[1718]= B =

bogosity /boh-go's*-tee/ n.

1. [orig. CMU, now very common] The degree to which something is
[1719]bogus. Bogosity is measured with a [1720]bogometer; in a
seminar, when a speaker says something bogus, a listener might raise
his hand and say "My bogometer just triggered". More extremely, "You
just pinned my bogometer" means you just said or did something so
outrageously bogus that it is off the scale, pinning the bogometer
needle at the highest possible reading (one might also say "You just
redlined my bogometer"). The agreed-upon unit of bogosity is the
[1721]microLenat. 2. The potential field generated by a [1722]bogon
flux; see [1723]quantum bogodynamics. See also [1724]bogon flux,
[1725]bogon filter, [1726]bogus.

Node:bogotify, Next:[1727]bogue out, Previous:[1728]bogosity,
Up:[1729]= B =

bogotify /boh-go't*-fi:/ vt.

To make or become bogus. A program that has been changed so many times

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