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Jargon used in computing

= A =

abbrev: /*-breev'/, /*-brev'/ n. Common abbreviation for `abbreviation'.

ABEND: [ABnormal END] /ah'bend/, /*-bend'/ n. Abnormal termination (of software); {crash};
   {lossage}.  Derives from an error message on the IBM 360; used jokingly by hackers but
   seriously mainly by {code grinder}s.  Usually capitalized, but may appear as `abend'.
   Hackers will try to persuade you that ABEND is called `abend' because it is what system
   operators do to the machine late on Friday when they want to call it a day, and hence
   is from the German `Abend' = `Evening'.

accumulator: n. 1. Archaic term for a register.  On-line use of it as a synonym for
   `register' is a fairly reliable indication that the user has been around for quite a
   while and/or that the architecture under discussion is quite old.  The term in full is
   almost never used of microprocessor registers, for example, though symbolic names for
   arithmetic registers beginning in `A' derive from historical use of the term
   `accumulator' (and not, actually, from `arithmetic').  Confusingly, though, an `A'
   register name prefix may also stand for `address', as for example on the Motorola 680x0
   family.  2. A register being used for arithmetic or logic (as opposed to addressing or a
   loop index), especially one being used to accumulate a sum or count of many items.  This
   use is in context of a particular routine or stretch of code.  "The FOOBAZ routine uses
   A3 as an accumulator."  3. One's in-basket (esp. among old-timers who might use sense 1).
   "You want this reviewed?  Sure, just put it in the accumulator."  (See {stack}.)

ACK: /ak/ interj. 1. [from the ASCII mnemonic for 0000110] Acknowledge.  Used to register
   one's presence (compare mainstream *Yo!*).  An appropriate response to {ping} or {ENQ}.
   2. [from the comic strip "Bloom County"] An exclamation of surprised disgust, esp. in
   "Ack pffft!"  Semi-humorous. Generally this sense is not spelled in caps (ACK) and is
   distinguished by a following exclamation point.  3. Used to politely interrupt someone
   to tell them you understand their point (see {NAK}).  Thus, for example, you might cut
   off an overly long explanation with "Ack.  Ack.  Ack.  I get it now".

   There is also a usage "ACK?" (from sense 1) meaning "Are you there?", often used in email
   when earlier mail has produced no reply, or during a lull in {talk mode} to see if the
   person has gone away (the standard humorous response is of course {NAK} (sense 2), i.e.,
   "I'm not here").

ad-hockery: /ad-hok'*r-ee/ [Purdue] n. 1. Gratuitous assumptions made inside certain
   programs, esp. expert systems, which lead to the appearance of semi-intelligent behavior
   but are in fact entirely arbitrary.  For example, fuzzy-matching input tokens that might
   be typing errors against a symbol table can make it look as though a program knows how to
   spell.  2. Special-case code to cope with some awkward input that would otherwise cause a
   program to {choke}, presuming normal inputs are dealt with in some cleaner and more
   regular way.  Also called `ad-hackery', `ad-hocity' (/ad-hos'*-tee/). See also {ELIZA

Ada:: n. A {{Pascal}}-descended language that has been made mandatory for Department of
   Defense software projects by the Pentagon.  Hackers are nearly unanimous in observing
   that, technically, it is precisely what one might expect given that kind of endorsement
   by fiat; designed by committee, crockish, difficult to use, and overall a disastrous,
   multi-billion-dollar boondoggle (one common description is "The PL/I of the 1980s").
   Hackers find Ada's exception-handling and inter-process communication features
   particularly hilarious.  Ada Lovelace (the daughter of Lord Byron who became the world's
   first programmer while cooperating with Charles Babbage on the design of his mechanical
   computing engines in the mid-1800s) would almost certainly blanch at the use to which her
   name has latterly been put; the kindest thing that has been said about it is that there is
   probably a good small language screaming to get out from inside its vast, {elephantine} bulk.

adger: /aj'r/ [UCLA] vt. To make a bonehead move with consequences that could have been
   foreseen with a slight amount of mental effort.  E.g., "He started removing files and
   promptly adgered the whole project".  Compare {dumbass attack}.

admin: /ad-min'/ n. Short for `administrator'; very commonly used in speech or on-line to
   refer to the systems person in charge on a computer.  Common constructions on this include
   `sysadmin' and `site admin' (emphasizing the administrator's role as a site contact for
   email and news) or `newsadmin' (focusing specifically on news).  Compare {postmaster},
   {sysop}, {system mangler}.

ADVENT: /ad'vent/ n. The prototypical computer adventure game, first implemented on the
   {PDP-10} by Will Crowther as an attempt at computer-refereed fantasy gaming, and expanded
   into a puzzle-oriented game by Don Woods.  Now better known as Adventure, but the
   {{TOPS-10}} operating system permitted only 6-letter filenames.  See also {vadding}.
   This game defined the terse, dryly humorous style now expected in text adventure games,
   and popularized several tag lines that have become fixtures of hacker-speak:  "A huge
   green fierce snake bars the way!"  "I see no X here" (for some noun X).  "You are in a
   maze of twisty little passages, all alike."  "You are in a little maze of twisty passages,
   all different."  The `magic words' {xyzzy} and {plugh} also derive from this game.
   Crowther, by the way, participated in the exploration of the Mammoth & Flint Ridge cave
   system; it actually *has* a `Colossal Cave' and a `Bedquilt' as in the game, and the `Y2'
   that also turns up is cavers' jargon for a map reference to a secondary entrance.

AI-complete: /A-I k*m-pleet'/ [MIT, Stanford: by analogy with `NP-complete' (see {NP-})] adj.
   Used to describe problems or subproblems in AI, to indicate that the solution presupposes a
   solution to the `strong AI problem' (that is, the synthesis of a human-level intelligence).
   A problem that is AI-complete is, in other words, just too hard.
   Examples of AI-complete problems are `The Vision Problem' (building a system that can see
   as well as a human) and `The Natural Language Problem' (building a system that can
   understand and speak a natural language as well as a human).  These may appear to be
   modular, but all attempts so far (1991) to solve them have foundered on the amount of
   context information and `intelligence' they seem to require. See also {gedanken}.

AI koans: /A-I koh'anz/ pl.n. A series of pastiches of Zen teaching riddles created by Danny
   Hillis at the MIT AI Lab around various major figures of the Lab's culture (several are
   included in appendix A).  See also {ha ha only serious}, {mu}, and {{Humor, Hacker}}.

AIDS: /aydz/ n. Short for A* Infected Disk Syndrome (`A*' is a {glob} pattern that matches,
   but is not limited to, Apple), this condition is quite often the result of practicing
   unsafe {SEX}.  See {virus}, {worm}, {Trojan horse}, {virgin}.

airplane rule: n. "Complexity increases the possibility of failure; a twin-engine airplane
   has twice as many engine problems as a single-engine airplane."  By analogy, in both
   software and electronics, the rule that simplicity increases robustness (see also {KISS
   Principle}).  It is correspondingly argued that the right way to build reliable systems is
   to put all your eggs in one basket, after making sure that you've built a really *good*

aliasing bug: n. A class of subtle programming errors that can arise in code that does dynamic
   allocation, esp. via `malloc(3)' or equivalent.  If more than one pointer addresses
   (`aliases for') a given hunk of storage, it may happen that the storage is freed through
   one alias and then referenced through another, which may lead to subtle (and possibly
   intermittent) lossage depending on the state and the allocation history of the malloc
   {arena}.  Avoidable by use of allocation strategies that never alias allocated core.
   Also avoidable by use of higher-level languages, such as {LISP}, which employ a garbage
   collector (see {GC}).  Also called a {stale pointer bug}.  See also {precedence lossage},
   {smash the stack}, {fandango on core}, {memory leak}, {overrun screw}, {spam}.
   Historical note: Though this term is nowadays associated with C programming, it was already
   in use in a very similar sense in the Algol-60 and FORTRAN communities in the 1960s.

all-elbows: adj. Of a TSR (terminate-and-stay-resident) IBM PC program, such as the N pop-up
   calendar and calculator utilities that circulate on {BBS} systems: unsociable.  Used to
   describe a program that rudely steals the resources that it needs without considering that
   other TSRs may also be resident.  One particularly common form of rudeness is lock-up due
   to programs fighting over the keyboard interrupt.  See also {mess-dos}.

alpha particles: n. See {bit rot}.

ALT: /awlt/ 1. n. The ALT shift key on an IBM PC or {clone}. 2. [possibly lowercased] n. The
   `clover' or `Command' key on a Macintosh; use of this term usually reveals that the speaker
   hacked PCs before coming to the Mac (see also {command key}).  Some Mac hackers,
   confusingly, reserve `ALT' for the Option key.  3. n.obs. [PDP-10] Alternate name for the
   ASCII ESC character (ASCII 0011011), after the keycap labeling on some older terminals.
   Also `ALTMODE' (/awlt'mohd/).  This character was almost never pronounced `escape' on an
   ITS system, in {TECO}, or under TOPS-10 --- always ALT, as in "Type ALT ALT to end a TECO
   command" or "ALT U onto the system" (for "log onto the [ITS] system").  This was probably
   because ALT is more convenient to say than `escape', especially when followed by another
   ALT or a character (or another ALT *and* a character, for that matter).

alt bit: /awlt bit/ [from alternate] adj. See {meta bit}.

Aluminum Book: [MIT] n. `Common LISP: The Language', by Guy L.  Steele Jr. (Digital Press,
   first edition 1984, second edition 1990).  Note that due to a technical screwup some
   printings of the second edition are actually of a colour the author describes succinctly
   as "yucky green".  See also {{book titles}}.

amoeba: n. Humourous term for the Commodore Amiga personal computer.

amp off: [Purdue] vt. To run in {background}.  From the UNIX shell `&' operator.

amper: n. Common abbreviation for the name of the ampersand (`&', ASCII 0100110) character.
   See {ASCII} for other synonyms.

angle brackets: n. Either of the characters `<' (ASCII 0111100) and `>' (ASCII 0111110)
   (ASCII less-than or greater-than signs).  The {Real World} angle brackets used by
   typographers are actually taller than a less-than or greater-than sign.
   See {broket}, {{ASCII}}.

angry fruit salad: n. A bad visual-interface design that uses too many colors.  This derives,
   of course, from the bizarre day-glo colours found in canned fruit salad.  Too often one
   sees similar affects from interface designers using color window systems such as {X}; there
   is a tendency to create displays that are flashy and attention-getting but uncomfortable
   for long-term use.

AOS: 1. /aws/ (East Coast), /ay-os/ (West Coast) [based on a PDP-10 increment instruction]
   vt.,obs. To increase the amount of something.  "AOS the campfire."  Usage: considered
   silly, and now obsolete.  Now largely supplanted by {bump}.  See {SOS}.
   2. A {{Multics}}-derived OS supported at one time by Data General.  This was pronounced
   /A-O-S/ or /A-os/.  A spoof of the standard AOS system administrator's manual (`How to
   load and generate your AOS system') was created, issued a part number, and circulated as
   photocopy folklore.  It was called `How to goad and levitate your chaos system'.
   3. Algebraic Operating System, in reference to those calculators which use infix instead
   of postfix (reverse Polish) notation.
   Historical note: AOS in sense 1 was the name of a {PDP-10} instruction that took any
   memory location in the computer and added 1 to it; AOS meant `Add One and do not Skip'.
   Why, you may ask, does the `S' stand for `do not Skip' rather than for `Skip'?  Ah, here
   was a beloved piece of PDP-10 folklore.  There were eight such instructions: AOSE added 1
   and then skipped the next instruction if the result was Equal to zero; AOSG added 1 and
   then skipped if the result was Greater than 0; AOSN added 1 and then skipped if the result
   was Not 0; AOSA added 1 and then skipped Always; and so on.  Just plain AOS didn't say when
   to skip, so it never skipped.
   For similar reasons, AOJ meant `Add One and do not Jump'.  Even more bizarre, SKIP meant
   `do not SKIP'!  If you wanted to skip the next instruction, you had to say `SKIPA'.
   Likewise, JUMP meant `do not JUMP'; the unconditional form was JUMPA.  However, hackers
   never did this.  By some quirk of the 10's design, the {JRST} (Jump and ReSTore flag with
   no flag specified) was actually faster and so was invariably used.  Such were the perverse
   mysteries of assembler programming.

app: /ap/ n. Short for `application program', as opposed to a systems program.  What systems
   vendors are forever chasing developers to create for their environments so they can sell
   more boxes.  Hackers tend not to think of the things they themselves run as apps; thus, in
   hacker parlance the term excludes compilers, program editors, games, and messaging systems,
   though a user would consider all those to be apps.  Oppose {tool}, {operating system}.

arc: [primarily MSDOS] vt. To create a compressed {archive} from a group of files using SEA
   ARC, PKWare PKARC, or a compatible program.  Rapidly becoming obsolete as the ARC
   compression method is falling into disuse, having been replaced by newer compression
   techniques.  See {tar and feather}, {zip}.

arc wars: [primarily MSDOS] n. {holy wars} over which archiving program one should use.
   The first arc war was sparked when System Enhancement Associates (SEA) sued PKWare for
   copyright and trademark infringement on its ARC program.  PKWare's PKARC outperformed ARC
   on both compression and speed while largely retaining compatibility (it introduced a new
   compression type that could be disabled for backward-compatibility).  PKWare settled out
   of court to avoid enormous legal costs (both SEA and PKWare are small companies); as part
   of the settlement, the name of PKARC was changed to PKPAK.  The public backlash against
   SEA for bringing suit helped to hasten the demise of ARC as a standard when PKWare and
   others introduced new, incompatible archivers with better compression algorithms.

archive: n. 1. A collection of several files bundled into one file by a program such as
   `ar(1)', `tar(1)', `cpio(1)', or {arc} for shipment or archiving (sense 2).  See also
   {tar and feather}.  2. A collection of files or archives (sense 1) made available from an
   `archive site' via {FTP} or an email server.

arena: [UNIX] n. The area of memory attached to a process by `brk(2)' and `sbrk(2)' and used
   by `malloc(3)' as dynamic storage.  So named from a semi-mythical `malloc: corrupt arena'
   message supposedly emitted when some early versions became terminally confused.  See
   {overrun screw}, {aliasing bug}, {memory leak}, {smash the stack}.

arg: /arg/ n. Abbreviation for `argument' (to a function), used so often as to have become a
   new word (like `piano' from `pianoforte').  "The sine function takes 1 arg, but the
   arc-tangent function can take either 1 or 2 args."  Compare {param}, {parm}, {var}.

armour-plated: n. Syn. for {bulletproof}.

asbestos: adj. Used as a modifier to anything intended to protect one from {flame}s.
   Important cases of this include {asbestos longjohns} and {asbestos cork award}, but it is
   used more generally.

asbestos cork award: n. Once, long ago at MIT, there was a {flamer} so consistently obnoxious
   that another hacker designed, had made, and distributed posters announcing that said flamer
   had been nominated for the `asbestos cork award'.  Persons in any doubt as to the intended
   application of the cork should consult the etymology under {flame}.  Since then, it is
   agreed that only a select few have risen to the heights of bombast required to earn this
   dubious dignity --- but there is no agreement on *which* few.

asbestos longjohns: n. Notional garments often donned by {USENET} posters just before emitting
   a remark they expect will elicit {flamage}.  This is the most common of the {asbestos}
   coinages. Also `asbestos underwear', `asbestos overcoat', etc.

ASCII:: [American Standard Code for Information Interchange] /as'kee/ n. The predominant
   character set encoding of present-day computers.  Uses 7 bits for each character, whereas
   most earlier codes (including an early version of ASCII) used fewer.  This change allowed
   the inclusion of lowercase letters --- a major {win} --- but it did not provide for
   accented letters or any other letterforms not used in English (such as the German sharp-S
   and the ae-ligature which is a letter in, for example, Norwegian).  It could be worse,
   though.  It could be much worse.  See {{EBCDIC}} to understand how.
   Computers are much pickier and less flexible about spelling than humans; thus, hackers need
   to be very precise when talking about characters, and have developed a considerable amount
   of verbal shorthand for them.  Every character has one or more names --- some formal, some
   concise, some silly.  Common jargon names for ASCII characters are collected here.  See
   also individual entries for {bang}, {excl}, {open}, {ques}, {semi}, {shriek}, {splat},
   {twiddle}, and {Yu-Shiang Whole Fish}.
   This list derives from revision 2.3 of the USENET ASCII pronunciation guide. Single
   characters are listed in ASCII order; character pairs are sorted in by first member.
   For each character, common names are given in rough order of popularity, followed by names
   that are reported but rarely seen.
   Square brackets mark the particularly silly names introduced by {INTERCAL}.  Ordinary
   parentheticals provide some usage information.

          Common: {bang}; pling; excl; shriek; <exclamation mark>. Rare: factorial; exclam;
          smash; cuss; boing; yell; wow; hey; wham; [spark-spot]; soldier.

          Common: double quote; quote.  Rare: literal mark; double-glitch; <quotation marks>;
          <dieresis>; dirk; [rabbit-ears]; double prime.

          Common: <number sign>; pound; pound sign; hash; sharp; {crunch}; hex; [mesh];
          octothorpe.  Rare: flash; crosshatch; grid; pig-pen; tictactoe; scratchmark; thud;
          thump; {splat}.

          Common: dollar; <dollar sign>.  rare: currency symbol; buck; cash; string (from
          basic); escape (when used as the echo of ascii esc); ding; cache; [big money].

          common: percent; <percent sign>; mod; grapes.  rare: [double-oh-seven].

          common: <ampersand>; amper; and.  rare: address (from c); reference (from c++);
          andpersand; bitand; background (from `sh(1)'); pretzel; amp.  [INTERCAL called this
          `ampersand'; what could be sillier?]

          Common: single quote; quote; <apostrophe>.  Rare: prime; glitch; tick; irk; pop;
          [spark]; <closing single quotation mark>; <acute accent>.

          Common: left/right paren; left/right parenthesis; left/right; paren/thesis;
          open/close paren; open/close; open/close parenthesis; left/right banana.
          Rare: so/al-ready; lparen/rparen; opening / closing parenthesis; open/close round
          bracket, parenthisey/unparenthisey; [wax/wane]; left/right ear.

          Common: star; [{splat}]; <asterisk>.  Rare: wildcard; gear; dingle; mult; spider;
          aster; times; twinkle; glob (see {glob}); {Nathan Hale}.

          Common: <plus>; add.  Rare: cross; [intersection].

          Common: <comma>.  Rare: <cedilla>; [tail].

          Common: dash; <hyphen>; <minus>.  Rare: [worm]; option; dak; bithorpe.

          Common: dot; point; <period>; <decimal point>.  Rare: radix point; full stop; [spot].

          Common: slash; stroke; <slant>; forward slash.  Rare: diagonal; solidus; over; slak;
          virgule; [slat].

          Common: <colon>.  Rare: dots; [two-spot].

          Common: <semicolon>; semi.  Rare: weenie; [hybrid], pit-thwong.

          Common: <less/greater than>; left/right angle bracket; bra/ket; left/right broket.
          Rare: from/{into, towards}; read from/write to; suck/blow; comes-from/gozinta;
          in/out; crunch/zap (all from UNIX); [angle/right angle].

          Common: <equals>; gets; takes.  Rare: quadrathorpe; [half-mesh].

          Common: query; <question mark>; {ques}.  Rare: whatmark; [what]; wildchar; huh;
          hook; buttonhook; hunchback.

          Common: at sign; at; strudel.  Rare: each; vortex; whorl; [whirlpool]; cyclone;
          snail; ape; cat; rose; cabbage; <commercial at>.

          Rare: [book].

          Common: left/right square bracket; <opening / closing bracket>; bracket/unbracket;
          left/right bracket.  Rare: square/unsquare; [U turn/U turn back].

          Common: backslash; escape (from C/UNIX); reverse slash; slosh; backslant; backwhack.
          Rare: bash; <reverse slant>; reversed virgule; [backslat].

          Common: hat; control; uparrow; caret; <circumflex>.  Rare: chevron; [shark
          (or shark-fin)]; to the (`to the power of'); fang; pointer (in pascal).

          common: <underline>; underscore; underbar; under. Rare: score; backarrow; [flatworm].

          Common: backquote; left quote; left single quote; open quote; <grave accent>; grave.
          Rare: backprime; [backspark]; unapostrophe; birk; blugle; back tick; back glitch;
          push; <opening single quotation mark>; quasiquote.

          Common: open/close brace; left/right brace; left/right squiggly; left/right squiggly
          bracket/brace; left/right curly bracket/brace; <opening / closing brace>. Rare: brace/
          unbrace; curly/uncurly; leftit/rytit; left/right squirrelly; [embrace/bracelet].

          Common: bar; or; or-bar; v-bar; pipe; vertical bar.  Rare: <vertical line>; gozinta;
          thru; pipesinta (last three from UNIX); [spike].

          Common: <tilde>; squiggle; {twiddle}; not.  Rare: approx; wiggle; swung dash; enyay;
          [sqiggle (sic)].

   The pronunciation of `#' as `pound' is common in the U.S. but a bad idea; {{Commonwealth
   Hackish}} has its own, rather more apposite use of `pound sign' (confusingly, on British
   keyboards the pound graphic happens to replace `#'; thus Britishers sometimes call `#' on
   a U.S.-ASCII keyboard `pound', compounding the American error). The U.S. usage derives
   from an old-fashioned commercial practice of using a `#' suffix to tag pound weights on
   bills of lading. The character is usually pronounced `hash' outside the U.S.

   The `uparrow' name for circumflex and `leftarrow' name for underline are historical relics
   from archaic ASCII (the 1963 version), which had these graphics in those character
   positions rather than the modern punctuation characters.

   The `swung dash' or `approximation' sign is not quite the same as tilde in typeset material
   but the ASCII tilde serves for both (compare {angle brackets}).

   Some other common usages cause odd overlaps.  The `#', `$', `>', and `&' characters, for
   example, are all pronounced "hex" in different communities because various assemblers use
   them as a prefix tag for hexadecimal constants (in particular, `#' in many assembler
   -programming cultures, `$' in the 6502 world, `>' at Texas Instruments, and `&' on the BBC
   Micro, Sinclair, and some Z80 machines).  See also {splat}.

   The inability of ASCII text to correctly represent any of the world's other major languages
   makes the designers' choice of 7 bits look more and more like a serious {misfeature} as the
   use of international networks continues to increase (see {software rot}).  Hardware and
   software from the U.S. still tends to embody the assumption that ASCII is the universal
   character set; this is a major irritant to people who want to use a character set suited
   to their own languages.  Perversely, though, efforts to solve this problem by proliferating
   `national' character sets produce an evolutionary pressure to use a *smaller* subset common
   to all those in use.

ASCII art: n. The fine art of drawing diagrams using the ASCII character set (mainly `|', `-',
   `/', `\', and `+').  Also known as `character graphics' or `ASCII graphics'; see also
   {boxology}.  Here is a serious example:

         o----)||(--+--|<----+   +---------o + d o
           l  )||(  |        |   |             c u
         a i  )||(  +-->|-+  |   +-\/\/-+--o -   T
         C N  )||(        |  |   |      |        P
           E  )||(  +-->|-+--)---+--)|--+-o      U
              )||(  |        |          | GND    T

               a power supply consisting of a full wave rectifier circuit feeding
               a capacitor input filter circuit

                               figure 1.

   and here are some very silly examples:

       |\/\/\/|     ____/|              ___    |\_/|    ___
       |      |     \ o.o|   ack!      /   \_  |` '|  _/   \
       |      |      =(_)=  THPHTH!   /      \/     \/      \
       | (o)(o)        U             /                       \
       C      _)  (__)                \/\/\/\  _____  /\/\/\/
       | ,___|    (oo)                       \/     \/
       |   /       \/-------\         U                  (__)
      /____\        ||     | \    /---V  `v'-            oo )
     /      \       ||---w||  *  * |--|   || |`.         |_/\

                               figure 2.

   there is an important subgenre of humorous ascii art that takes advantage of the names
   of the various characters to tell a pun-based joke.

     |      ^^^^^^^^^^^^                                      |
     | ^^^^^^^^^^^            ^^^^^^^^^                       |
     |                 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^            ^^^^^^^^^^^^^ |
     |        ^^^^^^^         b       ^^^^^^^^^               |
     |  ^^^^^^^^^          ^^^            ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^      |
                  " A Bee in the Carrot Patch "

                               figure 3.

   within humorous ascii art, there is for some reason an entire flourishing subgenre of
   pictures of silly cows.  four of these are reproduced in figure 2; here are three more:

              (__)              (__)              (__)
              (\/)              ($$)              (**)
       /-------\/        /-------\/        /-------\/
      / | 666 ||        / |=====||        / |     ||
     *  ||----||       *  ||----||       *  ||----||
        ~~    ~~          ~~    ~~          ~~    ~~
     satanic cow    this cow is a yuppie   cow in love

                               figure 4.

attoparsec: n. `atto-' is the standard SI prefix for multiplication by 10^{-18}.  A parsec
   (parallax-second) is 3.26 light-years; an attoparsec is thus 3.26 * 10^{-18} light years,
   or about 3.1 cm (thus, 1 attoparsec/{microfortnight} equals about 1 inch/sec).  This unit
   is reported to be in use (though probably not very seriously) among hackers in the U.K.
   See {micro-}.

autobogotiphobia: /aw'to-boh-got`*-foh'bee-*/ n. See {bogotify}.

automagically: /aw-toh-maj'i-klee/ or /aw-toh-maj'i-k*l-ee/ adv. Automatically, but in a way
   that, for some reason (typically because it is too complicated, or too ugly, or perhaps even
   too trivial), the speaker doesn't feel like explaining to you.  see {magic}. "The C-INTERCAL
   compiler generates C, then automagically invokes `cc(1)' to produce an executable."

avatar: [cmu, tektronix] n. syn. {root}, {superuser}.  there are quite a few unix machines on
   which the name of the superuser account is `avatar' rather than `root'.  this quirk was
   originated by a cmu hacker who disliked the term `superuser', and was propagated through an
   ex-CMU hacker at Tektronix.

awk: 1. n. [UNIX techspeak] An interpreted language for massaging text data developed by
   Alfred Aho, Peter Weinberger, and Brian Kernighan (the name is from their initials).
   It is characterized by C-like syntax, a declaration-free approach to variable typing and
   declarations, associative arrays, and field-oriented text processing.  See also {Perl}.
   2. n.  Editing term for an expression awkward to manipulate through normal {regexp}
   facilities (for example, one containing a {newline}). 3. vt. To process data using `awk(1)'.

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