A Short 'HACKERSPEAK' Glossary

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                A Short 'HACKERSPEAK' Glossary

A reference to a few of the terms used by many computer hackers.
(Researched and compiled by members of the Hollywood User Group)

arg - (argh) noun. An argument, in the mathematical sense.

automagically - adverb. Automatically, but in a way which, for some
reason (for example, because it’s too complicated or too trivial) the
speaker doesn’t feel like explaining.

bells and whistles - n. Unnecessary (but often convenient, useful,
good-looking, or amusing) features of a program or other object. Added
to a bare-bones, working program.

bit - n. 1) A unit of information obtained by asking a question (e.g.

  • ‘I need a few bits about Punter protocol’) 2) A mental flag;
    reminder that something should be done eventually.

buffer - verb. The act of saving or setting aside something to be done
later. (e.g. - ‘I’m going to buffer that and go eat now’).

bug - n. A problem or mistake; unwanted property or side effect.
Usually of a program, but can refer to a person. Can be very simple or
very complicated. Antonym: FEATURE.

bum - v. To improve something by rearranging or removing its parts.
Most often done to a program to increase speed or save memory space,
usually at the expense of clarity.

buzz - v. Of a program, to run without visible progress or certainty
of finishing. Resembles CATATONIA except that a buzzing loop may
eventually end.

canonical - (ki NAHN i kil) adjective. Standard, usual or ordinary way
of doing something.

catatonia - n. A condition in which something is supposed to happen,
but nothing does. (e.g. - Nothing you type will appear on the screen.
It’s catatonic. Often means a CRASH has occured.)

crash - 1) n. Sudden, drastic failure. Usually refers to a complete
computer system or program. 2) v. To fail suddenly or cause to fail.
3) v. Of people, to go to sleep.

creeping featurism - n. Tendency for anything complicated to become
even more so because people keep saying, ‘Hey, it would be terrific if
the program had this feature, and could do this, and…’ The result is
a patchwork program, confusing to read, with a lot of ‘neat’ features.

crock - n. Said of a program that works, but in an extremely awkward
or cumbersome manner.

crunch - v. To process, usually in a time-consuming, complex way.
Example: Performing large, repetitive numerical computations is called
‘number crunching’. 2) v. To reduce the size of a file (often in a
complicated way) to save space.

dec’ed out - (decked out) adj. Stoned, drunk (and possibly trying to
program, regardless). Uncomplimentary. Derives from the 65-- series
ML opcode DECrement, i.e.: decrease a value.

elegant - adj. Said of a piece of code that does the RIGHT THING in a
way beautiful to look at.

feature - n. An extra property or behaviour added to a program that
already does the job. May or may not be useful, necessary or

fencepost error - n. A mathematical ‘off-by-one’ error. Most often
found in programs that must count loops (it will count one time too
many, or too few). Term comes from the problem: ‘If you build a fence
100 feet long with posts 10 feet apart, how many posts fo you need?’
Example: Suppose you want to process an array of items x thru y. How
many are there? The correct answer is x-y+1 (not x-y, which would be
off by one).

flavor - n. variety, kind, type. (flavorful - adj. Aesthetically

flush - v. To scratch, delete or destroy something. Often something
superfluous or useless.

fudge - v. Perform in an incomplete, but marginally acceptable way.
‘I fudged it, so it works.’

GC - (jee see) 1) v. To clean up, throw away useless things. 2) To
forget. GC is an abreviation of the term ‘Garbage Collection’, the
common method of freeing up memory space.

glitch - n. Sudden interruption in electrical service, common sense,
or program function. Usually happens only when you pray that it

grovel - v. To work interminably, examine minutely or in extreme

gun - v. To forcibly terminate a program. ‘It was a boring display,
so I gunned it.’

hack - n. An appropriate application of ingenuity. It could be a
quick-and-dirty bug fix, or a time-consuming and elegant work of art.
A clever technique.

hack value - n. The motivation for expending effort and time toward a
seemingly pointless goal, the point being the resulting hack.

hack attack - n. Period of greatly increased hacking activity. Not to
be confused with a Mac-Attack.

hacker - n. 1) One who greatly enjoys learning the details of a
computer system and how to stretch their capabilities (as opposed to
REAL USERS who learn only the minimum amount necessary). 2) One who
programs enthusiastically, rather than just theorizing about it. 3)
One capable of appreciating HACK VALUE. 4) An expert of any kind 5) A
malicious or inquisitive meddler (in the case of a ‘system hacker’ or a
‘password hacker’).

inc it up - (also ‘incing’) v. Specifically related to studying,
reading, or learning ML. Derives from the 65-- series ML instruction
INCrement a value; i.e. increase it.

jock - n. Programmer characterized by the large, cumbersome,
brute-force programs he/she writes. The programs may work, but slowly,
inelegantly, or in an ugly way.

kludge - (kloog) 1) n. Clever programming trick, most often to fix a
bug. Efficient, but maybe unclear. 2) v. To insert a kludge into a
program (to fix a bug or add a feature).

magic - adj. Something as yet unexplained or too complex to imagine.

M&M’s - n. Mental and Midget; i.e. Mental Midget. Uncomplimentary
term applied most often to ‘system hackers’ who intrude for disruptive
or destructive purposes (like to crash BBS’s).

misfeature - n. A FEATURE that eventually turns out to be more trouble
than it was worth, possibly because it is inadequate for a new user or
situation that has evolved. Misfeatures are different from bugs or
side-effects in that they are often more basic to the program design
and, at one time, were carefully planned.

moby - 1) adj. Immense, complex, or impressive. 2) n. Total size of
a computers address space.

mode - n. A general state. Examples: DAY MODE - state a person is in
when s/he is working days and sleeping nights.

mumble - interjection. Said when the correct response is too
complicated to put into words or has not been thought out. Can
indicate a reluctance to enter a long discussion.

mumblage - n. The subject matter of one’s mumbling. Replaces ‘all
that stuff’.

nop around (or nopping) - v. Hanging out; not doing much; not
programming. Derives from the 65-- series ML instruction code ‘NOP’
(No OPeration).

obie (or o.b.) - n. Derives from a pun with the word ‘OverByte’.
Usually relates to a ML routine that doesn’t work because of some
small mistake, possibly an incorrect addressing mode or even a typing
error. Most often one or two bytes wrong.

patch - 1) n. Piece of code intended as a quick-and-dirty remedy to a
BUG or MISFEATURE. 2) v. To fix something temporarily; insert a patch
into a piece of code; make the main program machine-specific.

punt - v. To give up; decide not to do.

rave - v. 1) To persist in discussing something. 2) To speak
authoritatively about that which one knows very little. 3) To

real user - n. A commercial user; a non-hacker who uses computer
applications only.

Real World, The - n. 1) Places where programs have only business
applications. 2) Institutions such as IBM. 3) The location of
non-programmers and non-programming activity. The first two
definitions are uncomplimentary; the third is not.

Right Thing, The - n. that which is obviously the appropriate thing to
use, do, say, etc.

rude - (rood or roo-day) adj. Programs badly written or functionally

sacred - adj. Reserved for the exclusive use of something. Usually
refers to memory location or register that shouldn’t be used because
what is stored there must not change.

slurp - v. To read a large data file into memory before using or
processing data.

smart - adj. Said of a program (or something) that does THE RIGHT

SMOP - n. An acronym for a ‘Small Matter Of Programming’. A piece of
code that would not at all be hard to write, but would take a very long
time because of its size. Not worth the trouble.

snail mail - n. Mail sent via Post Office, rather than electronically.

software rot - n. Hypothetical disease that causes working programs to
stop working when unused for a period of time.

tense - adj. Of programs, very clever and efficient. A tense
programmer produces tense code.

vanilla - adj. Standard, usual, or ordinary FLAVOR.

zero - v. 1) To set a bit or variable to zero. 2) To erase, or
discard all data from.

zorch - v. 1) To move quickly. 2) Influences. 3) Energy or ability.