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Jargon used in computing

= D =

D. C. Power Lab: n. The former site of {{SAIL}}. Hackers thought this was very funny because
   the obvious connection to electrical engineering was nonexistent --- the lab was named for
   a Donald C. Power. Compare {Marginal Hacks}.

daemon: /day'mn/ or /dee'mn/ [from the mythological meaning, later rationalized as the acronym
   `Disk And Execution MONitor'] n. A program that is not invoked explicitly, but lies dormant
   waiting for some condition(s) to occur.  The idea is that the perpetrator of the condition
   need not be aware that a daemon is lurking (though often a program will commit an action
   only because it knows that it will implicitly invoke a daemon).  For example, under {{ITS}}
   writing a file on the {LPT} spooler's directory would invoke the spooling daemon, which
   would then print the file.  The advantage is that programs wanting (in this example) files
   printed need not compete for access to the {LPT}.  They simply enter their implicit requests
   and let the daemon decide what to do with them. Daemons are usually spawned automatically by
   the system, and may either live forever or be regenerated at intervals.  Daemon and {demon}
   are often used interchangeably, but seem to have distinct connotations.  The term `daemon'
   was introduced to computing by {CTSS} people (who pronounced it /dee'mon/) and used it to
   refer to what ITS called a {dragon}. Although the meaning and the pronunciation have
   drifted, we think this glossary reflects current (1991) usage.

dangling pointer: n. A reference that doesn't actually lead anywhere (in C and some other
   languages, a pointer that doesn't actually point at anything valid).  Usually this is
   because it formerly pointed to something that has moved or disappeared. Used as jargon in a
   generalization of its techspeak meaning; for example, a local phone number for a person who
   has since moved to the other coast is a dangling pointer.

Datamation: /day`t*-may'sh*n/ n. A magazine that many hackers assume all {suit}s read. Used to
   question an unbelieved quote, as in "Did you read that in `Datamation?'" It used to publish
   something hackishly funny every once in a while, like the original paper on {COME FROM} in
   1973, but it has since become much more exclusively {suit}-oriented and boring.

day mode: n. See {phase} (sense 1).  Used of people only.

dd: /dee-dee/ [UNIX: from IBM {JCL}] vt. Equivalent to {cat} or {BLT}. This was originally the
   name of a UNIX copy command with special options suitable for block-oriented devices. Often
   used in heavy-handed system maintenance, as in "Let's dd the root partition onto a tape,
   then use the boot PROM to load it back on to a new disk". The UNIX `dd(1)' was designed
   with a weird, distinctly non-UNIXy keyword option syntax reminiscent of IBM System/360 JCL
   (which had a similar DD command); though the command filled a need, the interface design
   was clearly a prank. The jargon usage is now very rare outside UNIX sites and now nearly
   obsolete even there, as `dd(1)' has been {deprecated} for a long time (though it has no
   exact replacement). Replaced by {BLT} or simple English `copy'.

DDT: /D-D-T/ n. 1. Generic term for a program that assists in debugging other programs by
   showing individual machine instructions in a readable symbolic form and letting the user
   change them. In this sense the term DDT is now archaic, having been widely displaced by
   `debugger' or names of individual programs like `dbx', `adb', `gdb', or `sdb'. 2. [ITS]
   Under MIT's fabled {{ITS}} operating system, DDT (running under the alias HACTRN) was also
   used as the {shell} or top level command language used to execute other programs. 3. Any
   one of several specific DDTs (sense 1) supported on early DEC hardware. The DEC PDP-10
   Reference Handbook (1969) contained a footnote on the first page of the documentation for
   DDT which illuminates the origin of the term:
     Historical footnote: DDT was developed at MIT for the PDP-1 computer in 1961. At that
     time DDT stood for "DEC Debugging Tape". Since then, the idea of an on-line debugging
     program has propagated throughout the computer industry. DDT programs are now available
     for all DEC computers. Since media other than tape are now frequently used, the more
     descriptive name "Dynamic Debugging Technique" has been adopted, retaining the DDT
     acronym. Confusion between DDT-10 and another well known pesticide, dichloro-diphenyl-
     trichloroethane (C14-H9-Cl5) should be minimal since each attacks a different, and
     apparently mutually exclusive, class of bugs.

   Sadly, this quotation was removed from later editions of the handbook after the {suit}s
   took over and DEC became much more`businesslike'.

de-rezz: /dee-rez'/ [from `de-resolve' via the movie "Tron"] (also `derez') 1. vi. To
   disappear or dissolve; the image that goes with it is of an object breaking up into raster
   lines and static and then dissolving.  Occasionally used of a person who seems to have
   suddenly `fuzzed out' mentally rather than physically. Usage: extremely silly, also rare.
   This verb was actually invented as *fictional* hacker jargon, and adopted in a spirit of
   irony by real hackers years after the fact. 2. vt. On a Macintosh, many program structures
   (including the code itself) are managed in small segments of the program file known as
   `resources'. The standard resource compiler is Rez. The standard resource decompiler is
   DeRez.  Thus, decompiling a resource is `derezzing'. Usage: very common.

dead code: n. Routines that can never be accessed because all calls to them have been removed,
   or code that cannot be reached because it is guarded by a control structure that provably
   must always transfer control somewhere else. The presence of dead code may reveal either
   logical errors due to alterations in the program or significant changes in the assumptions
   and environment of the program (see also {software rot}); a good compiler should report
   dead code so a maintainer can think about what it means.  Syn. {grunge}.

DEADBEEF: /ded-beef/ n. The hexadecimal word-fill pattern for freshly allocated memory
   (decimal -21524111) under a number of IBM environments, including the RS/6000. As in "Your
   program is DEADBEEF" (meaning gone, aborted, flushed from memory); if you start from an odd
   half-word boundary, of course, you have BEEFDEAD.

deadlock: n. 1. [techspeak] A situation wherein two or more processes are unable to proceed
   because each is waiting for one of the others to do something.  A common example is a
   program communicating to a server, which may find itself waiting for output from the server
   before sending anything more to it, while the server is similarly waiting for more input
   from the controlling program before outputting anything. (It is reported that this
   particular flavour of deadlock is sometimes called a `starvation deadlock', though the term
   `starvation' is more properly used for situations where a program can never run simply
   because it never gets high enough priority.  Another common flavour is `constipation',
   where each process is trying to send stuff to the other but all buffers are full because
   nobody is reading anything.) See {deadly embrace}. 2. Also used of deadlock-like
   interactions between humans, as when two people meet in a narrow corridor, and each tries
   to be polite by moving aside to let the other pass, but they end up swaying from side to
   side without making any progress because they always both move the same way at the same time.

deadly embrace: n. Same as {deadlock}, though usually used only when exactly 2 processes are
   involved.  This is the more popular term in Europe, while {deadlock} predominates in the
   United States.

Death Star: [from the movie "Star Wars"] 1. The AT&T corporate logo, which appears on
   computers sold by AT&T and bears an uncanny resemblance to the `Death Star' in the movie.
   This usage is particularly common among partisans of {BSD} UNIX, who tend to regard the
   AT&T versions as inferior and AT&T as a bad guy. Copies still circulate of a poster printed
   by Mt. Xinu showing a starscape with a space fighter labeled 4.2 BSD streaking away from a
   broken AT&T logo wreathed in flames. 2. AT&T's internal magazine, `Focus', uses `death
   star' for an incorrectly done AT&T logo in which the inner circle in the top left is dark
   instead of light --- a frequent result of dark-on-light logo images.

DEC Wars: n. A 1983 {USENET} posting by Alan Hastings and Steve Tarr spoofing the "Star Wars"
   movies in hackish terms. Some years later, ESR (disappointed by Hastings and Tarr's failure
   to exploit a great premise more thoroughly) posted a 3-times-longer complete rewrite called
   "UNIX WARS"; the two are often confused.

DEChead: /dek'hed/ n. 1. A DEC {field servoid}. Not flattering. 2. [from `deadhead'] A
   Grateful Dead fan working at DEC.

deckle: /dek'l/ [from dec- and {nickle}] n. Two {nickle}s; 10 bits. Reported among developers
   for Mattel's GI 1600 (the Intellivision games processor), a chip with 16-bit-wide RAM but
   10-bit-wide ROM.

deep hack mode: n. See {hack mode}.

deep magic: [poss. from C. S. Lewis's "Narnia" books] n. An awesomely arcane technique central
   to a program or system, esp. one not generally published and available to hackers at large
   (compare {black art}); one that could only have been composed by a true {wizard}. Compiler
   optimization techniques and many aspects of {OS} design used to be {deep magic}; many
   techniques in cryptography, signal processing, graphics, and AI still are. Compare {heavy
   wizardry}. Esp. found in comments of the form "Deep magic begins here...". Compare {voodoo

deep space: n. 1. Describes the notional location of any program that has gone {off the
   trolley}.  Esp. used of programs that just sit there silently grinding long after either
   failure or some output is expected. "Uh oh. I should have gotten a prompt ten seconds ago.
   The program's in deep space somewhere." Compare {buzz}, {catatonic}, {hyperspace}.  2. The
   metaphorical location of a human so dazed and/or confused or caught up in some esoteric
   form of {bogosity} that he or she no longer responds coherently to normal communication.
   Compare {page out}.

defenestration: [from the traditional Czechoslovak method of assassinating prime ministers,
   via SF fandom] n. 1. Proper karmic retribution for an incorrigible punster. "Oh, ghod, that
   was *awful*!" "Quick! Defenestrate him!" 2. The act of exiting a window system in order to
   get better response time from a full-screen program. This comes from the dictionary meaning
   of `defenestrate', which is to throw something out a window. 3. The act of discarding
   something under the assumption that it will improve matters.  "I don't have any disk space
   left." "Well, why don't you defenestrate that 100 megs worth of old core dumps?"
   4. [proposed] The requirement to support a command-line interface. "It has to run on a
   VT100." "Curses! I've been defenestrated!"

defined as: adj. In the role of, usually in an organization-chart sense. "Pete is currently
   defined as bug prioritizer." Compare {logical}.

dehose: /dee-hohz/ vt. To clear a {hosed} condition.

delint: /dee-lint/ v. To modify code to remove problems detected when {lint}ing.

delta: n. 1. [techspeak] A quantitative change, especially a small or incremental one (this
   use is general in physics and engineering).  "I just doubled the speed of my program!"
   "What was the delta on program size?" "About 30 percent." (He doubled the speed of his
   program, but increased its size by only 30 percent.)  2. [UNIX] A {diff}, especially a
   {diff} stored under the set of version-control tools called SCCS (Source Code Control
   System) or RCS (Revision Control System). 3. n. A small quantity, but not as small as
   {epsilon}. The jargon usage of {delta} and {epsilon} stems from the traditional use of
   these letters in mathematics for very small numerical quantities, particularly in
   `epsilon-delta' proofs in limit theory (as in the differential calculus). The term {delta}
   is often used, once {epsilon} has been mentioned, to mean a quantity that is slightly
   bigger than {epsilon} but still very small. "The cost isn't epsilon, but it's delta" means
   that the cost isn't totally negligible, but it is nevertheless very small. Common
   constructions include `within delta of ---', `within epsilon of ---': that is, close to and
   even closer to.

demented: adj. Yet another term of disgust used to describe a program. The connotation in this
   case is that the program works as designed, but the design is bad. Said, for example, of a
   program that generates large numbers of meaningless error messages, implying that it is on
   the brink of imminent collapse. Compare {wonky}, {bozotic}.

demigod: n. A hacker with years of experience, a national reputation, and a major role in the
   development of at least one design, tool, or game used by or known to more than half of the
   hacker community. To qualify as a genuine demigod, the person must recognizably identify
   with the hacker community and have helped shape it. Major demigods include Ken Thompson and
   Dennis Ritchie (co-inventors of {{UNIX}} and {C}) and Richard M. Stallman (inventor of
   {EMACS}). In their hearts of hearts, most hackers dream of someday becoming demigods
   themselves, and more than one major software project has been driven to completion by the
   author's veiled hopes of apotheosis. See also {net.god}, {true-hacker}.

demo: /de'moh/ [short for `demonstration'] 1. v. To demonstrate a product or prototype. A far
   more effective way of inducing bugs to manifest than any number of {test} runs, especially
   when important people are watching.  2. n. The act of demoing.

demo mode: [Sun] n. 1. The state of being {heads down} in order to finish code in time for a
   {demo}, usually due yesterday. 2. A mode in which video games sit there by themselves
   running through a portion of the game, also known as `attract mode'. Some serious {app}s
   have a demo mode they use as a screen saver, or may go through a demo mode on startup (for
   example, the Microsoft Windows opening screen --- which lets you impress your neighbours
   without actually having to put up with {Microsloth Windows}).

demon: n. 1. [MIT] A portion of a program that is not invoked explicitly, but that lies
   dormant waiting for some condition(s) to occur. See {daemon}. The distinction is that
   demons are usually processes within a program, while daemons are usually programs running
   on an operating system. Demons are particularly common in AI programs.  For example, a
   knowledge-manipulation program might implement inference rules as demons. Whenever a new
   piece of knowledge was added, various demons would activate (which demons depends on the
   particular piece of data) and would create additional pieces of knowledge by applying their
   respective inference rules to the original piece. These new pieces could in turn activate
   more demons as the inferences filtered down through chains of logic. Meanwhile, the main
   program could continue with whatever its primary task was. 2. [outside MIT] Often used
   equivalently to {daemon} --- especially in the {{UNIX}} world, where the latter spelling
   and pronunciation is considered mildly archaic.

depeditate: /dee-ped'*-tayt/ [by (faulty) analogy with `decapitate'] vt. Humourously, to cut
   off the feet of.  When one is using some computer-aided typesetting tools, careless
   placement of text blocks within a page or above a rule can result in chopped-off letter
   descenders.  Such letters are said to have been depeditated.

deprecated: adj. Said of a program or feature that is considered obsolescent and in the
   process of being phased out, usually in favour of a specified replacement. Deprecated
   features can, unfortunately, linger on for many years.

deserves to lose: adj. Said of someone who willfully does the {Wrong Thing}; humorously, if
   one uses a feature known to be {marginal}.  What is meant is that one deserves the
   consequences of one's {losing} actions.  "Boy, anyone who tries to use {mess-dos} deserves
   to {lose}!" ({{ITS}} fans used to say this of {{UNIX}}; many still do.)  See also {screw},
   {chomp}, {bagbiter}.

desk check: n.,v. To {grovel} over hardcopy of source code, mentally simulating the control
   flow; a method of catching bugs. No longer common practice in this age of on-screen editing,
   fast compiles, and sophisticated debuggers --- though some maintain stoutly that it ought to
   be.  Compare {eyeball search}, {vdiff}, {vgrep}.

Devil Book: n. `The Design and Implementation of the 4.3BSD UNIX Operating System', by Samuel
   J. Leffler, Marshall Kirk McKusick, Michael J. Karels, and John S. Quarterman
   (Addison-Wesley Publishers, 1989) --- the standard reference book on the internals of {BSD}
   UNIX.  So called because the cover has a picture depicting a little devil (a visual play on
   {daemon}) in sneakers, holding a pitchfork (referring to one of the characteristic features
   of UNIX, the {fork(2)} system call).

devo: /dee'voh/ [orig. in-house jargon at Symbolics] n. A person in a development group.  See
   also {doco} and {mango}.

dickless workstation: n. Extremely pejorative hackerism for `diskless workstation', a class of
   botches including the Sun 3/50 and other machines designed exclusively to network with an
   expensive central disk server.  These combine all the disadvantages of time-sharing with all
   the disadvantages of distributed personal computers.

dictionary flame: [USENET] n. An attempt to sidetrack a debate away from issues by insisting
   on meanings for key terms that presuppose a desired conclusion or smuggle in an implicit
   premise. A common tactic of people who prefer argument over definitions to disputes about

diddle: 1. vt. To work with or modify in a not particularly serious manner. "I diddled a copy
   of {ADVENT} so it didn't double-space all the time."  "Let's diddle this piece of code and
   see if the problem goes away."  See {tweak} and {twiddle}. 2. n. The action or result of
   diddling.  See also {tweak}, {twiddle}, {frob}.

diff: /dif/ n. 1. A change listing, especially giving differences between (and additions to)
   source code or documents (the term is often used in the plural `diffs').  "Send me your
   diffs for the Jargon File!" Compare {vdiff}. 2. Specifically, such a listing produced by
   the `diff(1)' command, esp. when used as specification input to the `patch(1)' utility
   (which can actually perform the modifications; see {patch}). This is a common method of
   distributing patches and source updates in the UNIX/C world.  See also {vdiff}, {mod}.

digit: n. An employee of Digital Equipment Corporation. See also {VAX}, {VMS}, {PDP-10},
   {{TOPS-10}}, {DEChead}, {double DECkers}, {field circus}.

dike: vt. To remove or disable a portion of something, as a wire from a computer or a
   subroutine from a program. A standard slogan is "When in doubt, dike it out". (The
   implication is that it is usually more effective to attack software problems by reducing
   complexity than by increasing it.) The word `dikes' is widely used among mechanics and
   engineers to mean `diagonal cutters', esp. a heavy-duty metal-cutting device, but may also
   refer to a kind of wire-cutters used by electronics techs. To `dike something out' means to
   use such cutters to remove something. Indeed, the TMRC Dictionary defined dike as "to
   attack with dikes". Among hackers this term has been metaphorically extended to
   informational objects such as sections of code.

ding: n.,vi. 1. Synonym for {feep}. Usage: rare among hackers, but commoner in the {Real
   World}. 2. `dinged': What happens when someone in authority gives you a minor bitching
   about something, esp. something trivial.  "I was dinged for having a messy desk."

dink: /dink/ n. Said of a machine that has the {bitty box} nature; a machine too small to be
   worth bothering with --- sometimes the system you're currently forced to work on. First
   heard from an MIT hacker (BADOB) working on a CP/M system with 64K, in reference to any
   6502 system, then from fans of 32-bit architectures about 16-bit machines. "GNUMACS will
   never work on that dink machine." Probably derived from mainstream `dinky', which isn't
   sufficiently pejorative.

dinosaur: n. 1. Any hardware requiring raised flooring and special power. Used especially of
   old minis and mainframes, in contrast with newer microprocessor-based machines. In a famous
   quote from the 1988 UNIX EXPO, Bill Joy compared the mainframe in the massive IBM display
   with a grazing dinosaur "with a truck outside pumping its bodily fluids through it". IBM
   was not amused. Compare {big iron}; see also {mainframe}. 2. [IBM] A very conservative user;
   a {zipperhead}.

dinosaur pen: n. A traditional {mainframe} computer room complete with raised flooring,
   special power, its own ultra-heavy-duty air conditioning, and a side order of Halon fire
   extinguishers.  See {boa}.

dinosaurs mating: n. Said to occur when yet another {big iron} merger or buyout occurs;
   reflects a perception by hackers that these signal another stage in the long, slow dying of
   the {mainframe} industry. In its glory days of the 1960s, it was `IBM and the Seven
   Dwarves': Burroughs, Control Data, General Electric, Honeywell, NCR, RCA, and Univac. RCA
   and GE sold out early, and it was `IBM and the Bunch' (Burroughs, Univac, NCR, Control
   Data, and Honeywell) for a while. Honeywell was bought out by Bull; Burroughs merged with
   Univac to form Unisys (in 1984 --- this was when the phrase `dinosaurs mating' was coined);
   and as this is written AT&T is attempting to recover from a disastrously bad first 6 years
   in the hardware industry by absorbing NCR. More such earth-shaking unions of doomed giants
   seem inevitable.

dirty power: n. Electrical mains voltage that is unfriendly to the delicate innards of
   computers. Spikes, {drop-outs}, average voltage significantly higher or lower than nominal,
   or just plain noise can all cause problems of varying subtlety and severity.

Discordianism: /dis-kor'di-*n-ism/ n. The veneration of {Eris}, a.k.a. Discordia; widely
   popular among hackers. Discordianism was popularized by Robert Anton Wilson's `Illuminatus!'
   trilogy as a sort of self-subverting Dada-Zen for Westerners --- it should on no account be
   taken seriously but is far more serious than most jokes.  Consider, for example, the Fifth
   Commandment of the Pentabarf, from `Principia Discordia': "A Discordian is Prohibited of
   Believing What he Reads."  Discordianism is usually connected with an elaborate conspiracy
   theory/joke involving millennia-long warfare between the anarcho-surrealist partisans of
   Eris and a malevolent, authoritarian secret society called the Illuminati.  See appendix B,
   {Church of the SubGenius}, and {ha ha only serious}.

disk farm: n. (also {laundromat}) A large room or rooms filled with disk drives (esp. {washing

display hack: n. A program with the same approximate purpose as a kaleidoscope: to make pretty
   pictures. Famous display hacks include {munching squares}, {smoking clover}, the BSD UNIX
   `rain(6)' program, `worms(6)' on miscellaneous UNIXes, and the {X} `kaleid(1)' program.
   Display hacks can also be implemented without programming by creating text files containing
   numerous escape sequences for interpretation by a video terminal; one notable example
   displayed, on any VT100, a Christmas tree with twinkling lights and a toy train circling
   its base. The {hack value} of a display hack is proportional to the esthetic value of the
   images times the cleverness of the algorithm divided by the size of the code. Syn.

Dissociated Press: [play on `Associated Press'; perhaps inspired by a reference in the 1949
   Bugs Bunny cartoon "What's Up, Doc?"] n.  An algorithm for transforming any text into
   potentially humourous garbage even more efficiently than by passing it through a
   {marketroid}. You start by printing any N consecutive words (or letters) in the text. Then
   at every step you search for any random occurrence in the original text of the last N words
   (or letters) already printed and then print the next word or letter. {EMACS} has a handy
   command for this. Here is a short example of word-based Dissociated Press applied to an
   earlier version of this Jargon File:

     wart: n. A small, crocky {feature} that sticks out of an array (C has no
     checks for this).  This is relatively benign and easy to spot if the phrase
     is bent so as to be not worth paying attention to the medium in question.

   Here is a short example of letter-based Dissociated Press applied to the same source:

     window sysIWYG: n. A bit was named aften /bee't*/ prefer to use the other guy's re,
     especially in every cast a chuckle on neithout getting into useful informash speech
     makes removing a featuring a move or usage actual abstractionsidered interj. Indeed
     spectace logic or problem!

   A hackish idle pastime is to apply letter-based Dissociated Press to a random body of text
   and {vgrep} the output in hopes of finding an interesting new word.  (In the preceding
   example, `window sysIWYG' and `informash' show some promise.) Iterated applications of
   Dissociated Press usually yield better results. Similar techniques called `travesty
   generators' have been employed with considerable satirical effect to the utterances of
   USENET flamers; see {pseudo}.

distribution: n. 1. A software source tree packaged for distribution; but see {kit}. 2. A
   vague term encompassing mailing lists and USENET newsgroups (but not {BBS} {fora}); any
   topic-oriented message channel with multiple recipients. 3. An information-space domain
   (usually loosely correlated with geography) to which propagation of a USENET message is
   restricted; a much-underutilized feature.

do protocol: [from network protocol programming] vi. To perform an interaction with somebody
   or something that follows a clearly defined procedure. For example, "Let's do protocol with
   the check" at a restaurant means to ask for the check, calculate the tip and everybody's
   share, collect money from everybody, generate change as necessary, and pay the bill.  See

doc: /dok/ n. Common spoken and written shorthand for `documentation'. Often used in the
   plural `docs' and in the construction `doc file' (documentation available on-line).

doco: /do'koh/ [orig. in-house jargon at Symbolics] n. A documentation writer.
   See also {devo} and {mango}.

documentation:: n. The multiple kilograms of macerated, pounded, steamed, bleached, and
   pressed trees that accompany most modern software or hardware products (see also
   {tree-killer}). Hackers seldom read paper documentation and (too) often resist writing it;
   they prefer theirs to be terse and on-line. A common comment on this is "You can't {grep}
   dead trees". See {drool-proof paper}, {verbiage}.

dodgy: adj. Syn. with {flaky}.  Preferred outside the U.S.

dogcow: /dog'kow/ n. See {Moof}.

dogwash: /dog'wosh/ [From a quip in the `urgency' field of a very optional software change
   request, ca. 1982. It was something like "Urgency: Wash your dog first".] 1. n. A project
   of minimal priority, undertaken as an escape from more serious work. 2. v. To engage in
   such a project.  Many games and much {freeware} get written this way.

domainist: /doh-mayn'ist/ adj. 1. Said of an {{Internet address}} (as opposed to a {bang path})
   because the part to the right of the `@' specifies a nested series of `domains'; for
   example, specifies the machine called snark in the subdomain called
   thyrsus within the top-level domain called com. See also {big-endian}, sense 2. 2. Said of
   a site, mailer, or routing program which knows how to handle domainist addresses. 3. Said
   of a person (esp. a site admin) who prefers domain addressing, supports a domainist mailer,
   or prosyletizes for domainist addressing and disdains {bang path}s. This is now (1991)
   semi-obsolete, as most sites have converted.

Don't do that, then!: [from an old doctor's office joke about a patient with a trivial
   complaint] Stock response to a user complaint. "When I type control-S, the whole system
   comes to a halt for thirty seconds." "Don't do that, then!" (or "So don't do that!").
   Compare {RTFM}.

dongle: /dong'gl/ n. 1. A security or {copy-protection} device for commercial microcomputer
   programs consisting of a serialized EPROM and some drivers in a D-25 connector shell, which
   must be connected to an I/O port of the computer while the program is run. Programs that
   use a dongle query the port at startup and at programmed intervals thereafter, and terminate
   if it does not respond with the dongle's programmed validation code. Thus, users can make as
   many copies of the program as they want but must pay for each dongle.  The idea was clever,
   but it was initially a failure, as users disliked tying up a serial port this way. Most
   dongles on the market today (1991) will pass data through the port and monitor for {magic}
   codes (and combinations of status lines) with minimal if any interference with devices
   further down the line --- this innovation was necessary to allow daisy-chained dongles for
   multiple pieces of software. The devices are still not widely used, as the industry has
   moved away from copy-protection schemes in general. 2. By extension, any physical electronic
   key or transferrable ID required for a program to function.  See {dongle-disk}.

dongle-disk: /don'gl disk/ n. See {dongle}; a `dongle-disk' is a floppy disk with some coding
   that allows an application to identify it uniquely. It can therefore be used as a {dongle}.
   Also called a `key disk'.

donuts: n.obs. A collective noun for any set of memory bits. This is extremely archaic and may
   no longer be live jargon; it dates from the days of ferrite-{core} memories in which each
   bit was implemented by a doughnut-shaped magnetic flip-flop.

doorstop: n. Used to describe equipment that is non-functional and halfway expected to remain
   so, especially obsolete equipment kept around for political reasons or ostensibly as a
   backup. "When we get another Wyse-50 in here, that ADM 3 will turn into a doorstop."
   Compare {boat anchor}.

dot file: [UNIX] n. A file which is not visible to normal directory-browsing tools (on UNIX,
   files named with a leading dot are, by convention, not normally presented in directory
   listings). Many programs define one or more dot files in which startup or configuration
   information may be optionally recorded; a user can customize the program's behavior by
   creating the appropriate file in the current or home directory.  See also {rc file}.

double bucky: adj. Using both the CTRL and META keys. "The command to burn all LEDs is double
   bucky F."
   This term originated on the Stanford extended-ASCII keyboard, and was later taken up by
   users of the {space-cadet keyboard} at MIT.  A typical MIT comment was that the Stanford
   {bucky bits} (control and meta shifting keys) were nice, but there weren't enough of them;
   you could type only 512 different characters on a Stanford keyboard. An obvious way to
   address this was simply to add more shifting keys, and this was eventually done; but a
   keyboard with that many shifting keys is hard on touch-typists, who don't like to move
   their hands away from the home position on the keyboard. It was half-seriously suggested
   that the extra shifting keys be implemented as pedals; typing on such a keyboard would be
   very much like playing a full pipe organ. This idea is mentioned in a parody of a very fine
   song by Jeffrey Moss called "Rubber Duckie", which was published in `The Sesame Street
   Songbook' (Simon and Schuster 1971, ISBN 671-21036-X).
   These lyrics were written on May 27, 1978, in celebration of the Stanford keyboard:

     Double Bucky

     Double bucky, you're the one!
     You make my keyboard lots of fun.
         Double bucky, an additional bit or two:
     Control and meta, side by side,
     Augmented ASCII, nine bits wide!
         Double bucky!  Half a thousand glyphs, plus a few!
     I sure wish that I
     Had a couple of
         Bits more!
     Perhaps a
     Set of pedals to
     Make the number of
         Bits four:
     Double double bucky!
     Double bucky, left and right
     OR'd together, outta sight!
         Double bucky, I'd like a whole word of
         Double bucky, I'm happy I heard of
         Double bucky, I'd like a whole word of you!

     --- The Great Quux (with apologies to Jeffrey Moss)

   [This, by the way, is an excellent example of computer {filk} --- ESR]

   See also {meta bit}, {cokebottle}, and {quadruple bucky}.

double DECkers: n. Used to describe married couples in which both partners work for Digital
   Equipment Corporation.

doubled sig: [USENET] n. A {sig block} that has been included twice in a {USENET} article or,
   less commonly, in an electronic mail message.  An article or message with a doubled sig can
   be caused by improperly configured software.  More often, however, it reveals the author's
   lack of experience in electronic communication.  See {BIFF}, {pseudo}.

down: 1. adj. Not operating. "The up escalator is down" is considered a humourous thing to say,
   and "The elevator is down" always means "The elevator isn't working" and never refers to
   what floor the elevator is on. With respect to computers, this usage has passed into the
   mainstream; the extension to other kinds of machine is still hackish. 2. `go down' vi. To
   stop functioning; usually said of the {system}. The message from the {console} that every
   hacker hates to hear from the operator is "The system will go down in 5 minutes". 3. `take
   down', `bring down' vt. To deactivate purposely, usually for repair work or {PM}. "I'm
   taking the system down to work on that bug in the tape drive." Occasionally one hears the
   word `down' by itself used as a verb in this vt. sense.  See {crash}; oppose {up}.

download: vt. To transfer data or (esp.) code from a larger `host' system (esp. a {mainframe})
   over a digital comm link to a smaller `client' system, esp. a microcomputer or specialized
   peripheral. Oppose {upload}.
   However, note that ground-to-space communications has its own usage rule for this term.
   Space-to-earth transmission is always download and the reverse upload regardless of the
   relative size of the computers involved. So far the in-space machines have invariably been
   smaller; thus the upload/download distinction has been reversed from its usual sense.

DP: /D-P/ n. 1. Data Processing. Listed here because, according to hackers, use of the term
   marks one immediately as a {suit}.  See {DPer}.  2. Common abbrev for {Dissociated Press}.

DPB: /d*-pib'/ [from the PDP-10 instruction set] vt. To plop something down in the middle.
   Usage: silly. "DPB yourself into that couch there." The connotation would be that the couch
   is full except for one slot just big enough for you to sit in. DPB means `DePosit Byte',
   and was the name of a PDP-10 instruction that inserts some bits into the middle of some
   other bits.  This usage has been kept alive by the Common LISP function of the same name.

DPer: /dee-pee-er/ n. Data Processor. Hackers are absolutely amazed that {suit}s use this term
   self-referentially. "*Computers* process data, not people!"  See {DP}.

dragon: n. [MIT] A program similar to a {daemon}, except that it is not invoked at all, but is
   instead used by the system to perform various secondary tasks. A typical example would be
   an accounting program, which keeps track of who is logged in, accumulates load-average
   statistics, etc. Under ITS, many terminals displayed a list of people logged in, where they
   were, what they were running, etc., along with some random picture (such as a unicorn,
   Snoopy, or the Enterprise), which was generated by the `name dragon'.  Usage: rare outside
   MIT --- under UNIX and most other OSes this would be called a `background demon' or
   {daemon}. The best-known UNIX example of a dragon is `cron(1)'. At SAIL, they called this
   sort of thing a `phantom'.

Dragon Book: n. The classic text `Compilers: Principles, Techniques and Tools', by Alfred V.
   Aho, Ravi Sethi, and Jeffrey D. Ullman (Addison-Wesley 1986; ISBN 0-201-10088-6), so called
   because of the cover design featuring a dragon labeled `complexity of compiler design' and
   a knight bearing the lance `LALR parser generator' among his other trappings. This one is
   more specifically known as the `Red Dragon Book' (1986); an earlier edition, sans Sethi and
   titled `Principles Of Compiler Design' (Alfred V. Aho and Jeffrey D. Ullman; Addison-Wesley,
   1977; ISBN 0-201-00022-9), was the `Green Dragon Book' (1977). (Also `New Dragon Book',
   `Old Dragon Book'.) The horsed knight and the Green Dragon were warily eying each other at
   a distance; now the knight is typing (wearing gauntlets!) at a terminal showing a video-game
   representation of the Red Dragon's head while the rest of the beast extends back in normal
   space.  See also {{book titles}}.

drain: [IBM] v. Syn. for {flush} (sense 2).  Has a connotation of finality about it; one
   speaks of draining a device before taking it offline.

dread high-bit disease: n. A condition endemic to PRIME (a.k.a. PR1ME) minicomputers that
   results in all the characters having their high (0x80) bit ON rather than OFF. This of
   course makes transporting files to other systems much more difficult, not to mention
   talking to true 8-bit devices.  It is reported that PRIME adopted the reversed-8-bit
   convention in order to save 25 cents per serial line per machine. This probably qualifies
   as one of the most {cretinous} design tradeoffs ever made. See {meta bit}. A few other
   machines (including the Atari 800) have exhibited similar brain damage.

DRECNET: /drek'net/ [from Yiddish/German `dreck', meaning dirt] n. Deliberate distortion of
   DECNET, a networking protocol used in the {VMS} community. So called because DEC helped
   write the Ethernet specification and then (either stupidly or as a malignant customer-
   control tactic) violated that spec in the design of DRECNET in a way that made it
   incompatible.  See also {connector conspiracy}.

driver: n. 1. The {main loop} of an event-processing program; the code that gets commands and
   dispatches them for execution. 2. [techspeak] In `device driver', code designed to handle a
   particular peripheral device such as a magnetic disk or tape unit. 3. In the TeX general,
   `driver' also means a program that translates some device-independent or other common
   format to something a real device can actually understand.

droid: n. A person (esp. a low-level bureaucrat or service-business employee) exhibiting most
   of the following characteristics: (a) na"ive trust in the wisdom of the parent organization
   or `the system'; (b) a propensity to believe obvious nonsense emitted by authority figures
   (or computers!); blind faith; (c) a rule-governed mentality, one unwilling or unable to
   look beyond the `letter of the law' in exceptional situations; and (d) no interest in
   fixing that which is broken; an "It's not my job, man" attitude.
   Typical droid positions include supermarket checkout assistant and bank clerk; the syndrome
   is also endemic in low-level government employees. The implication is that the rules and
   official procedures constitute software that the droid is executing. This becomes a problem
   when the software has not been properly debugged. The term `droid mentality' is also used
   to describe the mindset behind this behavior. Compare {suit}, {marketroid}; see {-oid}.

drool-proof paper: n. Documentation that has been obsessively {dumbed down}, to the point where
   only a {cretin} could bear to read it, is said to have succumbed to the `drool-proof paper
   syndrome' or to have been `written on drool-proof paper'. For example, this is an actual
   quote from Apple's LaserWriter manual: "Do not expose your LaserWriter to open fire or

drop on the floor: vt. To react to an error condition by silently discarding messages or other
   valuable data. "The gateway ran out of memory, so it just started dropping packets on the
   floor." Also frequently used of faulty mail and netnews relay sites that lose messages. See
   also {black hole}, {bit bucket}.

drop-ins: [prob. by analogy with {drop-outs}] n. Spurious characters appearing on a terminal
   or console as a result of line noise or a system malfunction of some sort.  Esp. used when
   these are interspersed with one's own typed input.  Compare {drop-outs}.

drop-outs: n. 1. A variety of `power glitch' (see {glitch}); momentary 0 voltage on the
   electrical mains. 2. Missing characters in typed input due to software malfunction or
   system saturation (this can happen under UNIX when a bad connection to a modem swamps the
   processor with spurious character interrupts). 3. Mental glitches; used as a way of
   describing those occasions when the mind just seems to shut down for a couple of beats.
   See {glitch}, {fried}.

drugged: adj. (also `on drugs') 1. Conspicuously stupid, heading toward {brain-damaged}. Often
   accompanied by a pantomime of toking a joint (but see appendix B). 2. Of hardware, very
   slow relative to normal performance.

drunk mouse syndrome: n. A malady exhibited by the mouse pointing device of some computers.
   The typical symptom is for the mouse cursor on the screen to move in random directions and
   not in sync with the motion of the actual mouse. Can usually be corrected by unplugging the
   mouse and plugging it back again. Another recommended fix for optical mice is to rotate
   your mouse pad 90 degrees.
   At Xerox PARC in the 1970s, most people kept a can of copier cleaner (isopropyl alcohol) at
   their desks. When the steel ball on the mouse had picked up enough {cruft} to be unreliable,
   the mouse was doused in cleaner, which restored it for a while. However, this operation left
   a fine residue that accelerated the accumulation of cruft, so the dousings became more and
   more frequent. Finally, the mouse was declared `alcoholic' and sent to the clinic to be
   dried out in a CFC ultrasonic bath.

dumbass attack: /duhm'as *-tak'/ [Purdue] n. Notional cause of a novice's mistake made by the
   experienced, especially one made while running as root under UNIX, e.g., typing `rm -r *'
   or `mkfs' on a mounted file system.  Compare {adger}.

dumbed down: adj. Simplified, with a strong connotation of *over*simplified. Often, a
   {marketroid} will insist that the interfaces and documentation of software be dumbed down
   after the designer has burned untold gallons of midnight oil making it smart. This creates
   friction.  See {user-friendly}.

dump: n. 1. An undigested and voluminous mass of information about a problem or the state of a
   system, especially one routed to the slowest available output device (compare {core dump}),
   and most especially one consisting of hex or octal {runes} describing the byte-by-byte
   state of memory, mass storage, or some file. In {elder days}, debugging was generally done
   by `groveling over' a dump (see {grovel}); increasing use of high-level languages and
   interactive debuggers has made this uncommon, and the term `dump' now has a faintly archaic
   flavour. 2. A backup. This usage is typical only at large timesharing installations.

dup killer: /d[y]oop kill'r/ [FidoNet] n. Software that is supposed to detect and delete
   duplicates of a message that may have reached the FidoNet system via different routes.

dup loop: /d[y]oop loop/ (also `dupe loop') [FidoNet] n. An incorrectly configured system or
   network gateway may propagate duplicate messages on one or more {echo}es, with different
   identification information that renders {dup killer}s ineffective.  If such a duplicate
   message eventually reaches a system through which it has already passed (with the original
   identification information), all systems passed on the way back to that system are said to
   be involved in a {dup loop}.

dusty deck: n. Old software (especially applications) which one is obliged to remain
   compatible with (or to maintain).  The term implies that the software in question is a
   holdover from card-punch days.  Used esp. when referring to old scientific and {number-
   crunching} software, much of which was written in FORTRAN and very poorly documented but is
   believed to be too expensive to replace.  See {fossil}.

DWIM: /dwim/ [acronym, `Do What I Mean'] 1. adj. Able to guess, sometimes even correctly, the
   result intended when bogus input was provided. 2. n.,obs. The BBNLISP/INTERLISP function
   that attempted to accomplish this feat by correcting many of the more common errors. See
   {hairy}.  3. Occasionally, an interjection hurled at a balky computer, esp. when one senses
   one might be tripping over legalisms (see {legalese}).
   Warren Teitelman originally wrote DWIM to fix his typos and spelling errors, so it was
   somewhat idiosyncratic to his style, and would often make hash of anyone else's typos if
   they were stylistically different.  This led a number of victims of DWIM to claim the
   acronym stood for `Damn Warren's Infernal Machine!'.
   In one notorious incident, Warren added a DWIM feature to the command interpreter used at
   Xerox PARC.  One day another hacker there typed `delete *$' to free up some disk space.
   (The editor there named backup files by appending `$' to the original file name, so he was
   trying to delete any backup files left over from old editing sessions.) It happened that
   there weren't any editor backup files, so DWIM helpfully reported `*$ not found, assuming
   you meant 'delete *'.'  It then started to delete all the files on the disk! The hacker
   managed to stop it with a {Vulcan nerve pinch} after only a half dozen or so files were
   lost. The hacker later said he had been sorely tempted to go to Warren's office, tie Warren
   down in his chair in front of his workstation, and then type `delete *$' twice.
   DWIM is often suggested in jest as a desired feature for a complex program; it is also
   occasionally described as the single instruction the ideal computer would have. Back when
   proofs of program correctness were in vogue, there were also jokes about `DWIMC' (Do What I
   Mean, Correctly). A related term, more often seen as a verb, is DTRT (Do The Right Thing);
   see {Right Thing}.

dynner: /din'r/ 32 bits, by analogy with {nybble} and {{byte}}. Usage: rare and extremely
   silly.  See also {playte}, {tayste}, {crumb}.

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