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Jargon used in computing

= G =

G: [SI] pref.,suff. See {{quantifiers}}.

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

gag: vi. Equivalent to {choke}, but connotes more disgust. "Hey, this is FORTRAN code. No
    wonder the C compiler gagged."  See also  {barf}.

gang bang: n. The use of large numbers of loosely coupled programmers in an attempt to wedge a
   great many features into a product in a short time.  Though there have been memorable gang
   bangs (e.g., that over-the-weekend assembler port mentioned in Steven Levy's `Hackers'),
   most are perpetrated by large companies trying to meet deadlines and produce enormous buggy
   masses of code entirely lacking in {orthogonal}ity. When market-driven managers make a list
   of all the features the competition has and assign one programmer to implement each, they
   often miss the importance of maintaining a coherent design. See also {firefighting},
   {Mongolian Hordes technique}, {Conway's Law}.

garbage collect: vi. (also `garbage collection', n.) See {GC}.

garply: /gar'plee/ [Stanford] n. Another meta-syntactic variable (see {foo}); once popular
   among SAIL hackers.

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

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

GC: /G-C/ [from LISP terminology; `Garbage Collect'] 1. vt. To clean up and throw away useless
   things. "I think I'll GC the top of my desk today." When said of files, this is equivalent
   to {GFR}. 2. vt. To recycle, reclaim, or put to another use. 3. n. An instantiation of the
   garbage collector process.
   `Garbage collection' is computer-science jargon for a particular class of strategies for
   dynamically reallocating computer memory. One such strategy involves periodically scanning
   all the data in memory and determining what is no longer accessible; useless data items are
   then discarded so that the memory they occupy can be recycled and used for another purpose.
   Implementations of the LISP language usually use garbage collection.
   In jargon, the full phrase is sometimes heard but the {abbrev} is more frequently used
   because it is shorter. Note that there is an ambiguity in usage that has to be resolved by
   context: "I'm going to garbage-collect my desk" usually means to clean out the drawers, but
   it could also mean to throw away or recycle the desk itself.

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

GECOS:: /jee'kohs/ n. See {{GCOS}}.

gedanken: /g*-don'kn/ adj. Ungrounded; impractical; not well-thought-out; untried; untested.
   `Gedanken' is a German word for `thought'. A thought experiment is one you carry out in your
   head.  In physics, the term `gedanken experiment' is used to refer to an experiment that is
   impractical to carry out, but useful to consider because you can reason about it
   theoretically. (A classic gedanken experiment of relativity theory involves thinking about a
   man in an elevator accelerating through space.) Gedanken experiments are very useful in
   physics, but you have to be careful. It's too easy to idealize away some important aspect of
   the real world in contructing your `apparatus'.
   Among hackers, accordingly, the word has a pejorative connotation. It is said of a project,
   especially one in artificial intelligence research, that is written up in grand detail
   (typically as a Ph.D. thesis) without ever being implemented to any great extent. Such a
   project is usually perpetrated by people who aren't very good hackers or find programming
   distasteful or are just in a hurry. A `gedanken thesis' is usually marked by an obvious lack
   of intuition about what is programmable and what is not, and about what does and does not
   constitute a clear specification of an algorithm.  See also {AI-complete}, {DWIM}.

geef: v. [ostensibly from `gefingerpoken'] vt. Syn. {mung}.  See also {blinkenlights}.

geek out: vi. To temporarily enter techno-nerd mode while in a non-hackish context, for example
   at parties held near computer equipment. Especially used when you need to do something
   highly technical and don't have time to explain: "Pardon me while I geek out for a moment."
   See {computer geek}.

gen: /jen/ n.,v. Short for {generate}, used frequently in both spoken and written contexts.

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

General Public Virus: n. Pejorative name for some versions of the {GNU} project {copyleft} or
   General Public License (GPL), which requires that any tools or {app}s incorporating
   copylefted code must be source-distributed on the same counter-commercial terms as GNU
   stuff. Thus it is alleged that the copyleft `infects' software generated with GNU tools,
   which may in turn infect other software that reuses any of its code.  The Free Software
   Foundation's official position as of January 1991 is that copyright law limits the scope of
   the GPL to "programs textually incorporating significant amounts of GNU code", and that the
   `infection' is not passed on to third parties unless actual GNU source is transmitted (as
   in, for example, use of the Bison parser skeleton). Nevertheless, widespread suspicion that
   the {copyleft} language is `boobytrapped' has caused many developers to avoid using GNU
   tools and the GPL.  Recent (July 1991) changes in the language of the version 2.00 language
   may eliminate this problem.

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

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

Get a life!: imp. Hacker-standard way of suggesting that the person to whom you are speaking
   has succumbed to terminal geekdom (see {computer geek}). Often heard on {USENET}, esp. as a
   way of suggesting that the target is taking some obscure issue of {theology} too seriously.
   This exhortation was popularized by William Shatner on a "Saturday Night Live" episode in a
   speech that ended "Get a *life*!", but some respondents believe it to have been in use
   before then.

Get a real computer!: imp. Typical hacker response to news that somebody is having trouble
   getting work done on a system that (a) is single-tasking, (b) has no hard disk, or (c) has
   an address space smaller than 4 megabytes. This is as of mid-1991; note that the threshold
   for `real computer' rises with time, and it may well be (for example) that machines with
   character-only displays will be generally considered `unreal' in a few years (GLS points
   out that they already are in some circles).  See {essentials}, {bitty box}, and {toy}.

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

gig: /jig/ or /gig/ [SI] n. See {{quantifiers}}.

giga-: /ji'ga/ or /gi'ga/ [SI] pref. See {{quantifiers}}.

GIGO: /gi:'goh/ [acronym] 1. `Garbage In, Garbage Out' --- usually said in response to {luser}s
   who complain that a program didn't complain about faulty data. Also commonly used to
   describe failures in human decision making due to faulty, incomplete, or imprecise data.
   2. `Garbage In, Gospel Out': this more recent expansion is a sardonic comment on the
   tendency human beings have to put excessive trust in `computerized' data.

gillion: /gil'y*n/ or /jil'y*n/ [formed from {giga-} by analogy with mega/million and
   tera/trillion] n. 10^9. Same as an American billion or a British `milliard'. How one
   pronounces this depends on whether one speaks {giga-} with a hard or soft `g'.

GIPS: /gips/ or /jips/ [analogy with {MIPS}] n. Giga-Instructions per Second (also possibly
   `Gillions of Instructions per Second'; see {gillion}). In 1991, this is used of only a
   handful of highly parallel machines, but this is expected to change.  Compare {KIPS}.

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

glass: [IBM] n. Synonym for {silicon}.

glass tty: /glas T-T-Y/ or /glas ti'tee/ n. A terminal that has a display screen but which,
   because of hardware or software limitations, behaves like a teletype or some other printing
   terminal, thereby combining the disadvantages of both: like a printing terminal, it can't do
   fancy display hacks, and like a display terminal, it doesn't produce hard copy. An example
   is the early `dumb' version of Lear-Siegler ADM 3 (without cursor control). See {tube},
   {tty}.  See appendix A for an interesting true story about a glass tty.

glassfet: /glas'fet/ [by analogy with MOSFET, the acronym for `Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor
   Field-Effect Transistor'] n. Syn. {firebottle}, a humourous way to refer to a vacuum tube.

glitch: /glich/ [from German `glitschen' to slip, via Yiddish `glitshen', to slide or skid]
   1. n. A sudden interruption in electric service, sanity, continuity, or program function.
   Sometimes recoverable. An interruption in electric service is specifically called a `power
   glitch'. This is of grave concern because it usually crashes all the computers. In jargon,
   though, a hacker who got to the middle of a sentence and then forgot how he or she intended
   to complete it might say, "Sorry, I just glitched". 2. vi. To commit a glitch. See {gritch}.
   3. vt. [Stanford] To scroll a display screen, esp. several lines at a time. {{WAITS}}
   terminals used to do this in order to avoid continuous scrolling, which is distracting to
   the eye.  4. obs. Same as {magic cookie}, sense 2.
   All these uses of `glitch' derive from the specific technical meaning the term has to
   hardware people. If the inputs of a circuit change, and the outputs change to some {random}
   value for some very brief time before they settle down to the correct value, then that is
   called a glitch. This may or may not be harmful, depending on what the circuit is connected
   to. This term is techspeak, found in electronics texts.

glob: /glob/, *not* /glohb/ [UNIX] vt.,n. To expand special characters in a wildcarded name,
   or the act of so doing (the action is also called `globbing'). The UNIX conventions for
   filename wildcarding have become sufficiently pervasive that many hackers use some of them
   in written English, especially in email or news on technical topics.  Those commonly
   encountered include the following:

          wildcard for any string (see also {UN*X})

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

          delimits a wildcard matching any of the enclosed characters

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

   Some examples: "He said his name was [KC]arl" (expresses ambiguity). "I don't read
   talk.politics.*" (any of the talk.politics subgroups on {USENET}). Other examples are given
   under the entry for {X}.  Compare {regexp}.
   Historical note: The jargon usage derives from `glob', the name of a subprogram that
   expanded wildcards in archaic pre-Bourne versions of the UNIX shell.

glork: /glork/ 1. interj. Term of mild surprise, usually tinged with outrage, as when one
   attempts to save the results of 2 hours of editing and finds that the system has just
   crashed. 2. Used as a name for just about anything. See {foo}. 3. vt. Similar to {glitch},
   but usually used reflexively.  "My program just glorked itself."  See also {glark}.

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

gnarly: /nar'lee/ adj. Both {obscure} and {hairy} in the sense of complex. "{Yow}! --- the
   tuned assembler implementation of BitBlt is really gnarly!" From a similar but less specific
   usage in surfer slang.

GNU: /gnoo/, *not* /noo/ 1. [acronym: `GNU's Not UNIX!', see {{recursive acronym}}] A
   UNIX-workalike development effort of the Free Software Foundation headed by Richard
   Stallman. GNU EMACS and the GNU C compiler, two tools designed for this project, have
   become very popular in hackerdom and elsewhere. The GNU project was designed partly to
   proselytize for RMS's position that information is community property and all software
   source should be shared. One of its slogans is "Help stamp out software hoarding!" Though
   this remains controversial (because it implicitly denies any right of designers to own,
   assign, and sell the results of their labors), many hackers who disagree with RMS have
   nevertheless cooperated to produce large amounts of high-quality software for free
   redistribution under the Free Software Foundation's imprimatur. See {EMACS}, {copyleft},
   {General Public Virus}. 2. Noted UNIX hacker John Gilmore (, founder of
   USENET's anarchic alt.* hierarchy.

GNUMACS: /gnoo'maks/ [contraction of `GNU EMACS'] Often-heard abbreviated name for the {GNU}
   project's flagship tool, {EMACS}. Used esp. in contrast with {GOSMACS}.

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

go root: [UNIX] vi. To temporarily enter {root mode} in order to perform a privileged
   operation.  This use is deprecated in Australia, where v. `root' refers to animal sex.

go-faster stripes: [UK] Syn. {chrome}.

gobble: vt. To consume or to obtain.  The phrase `gobble up' tends to imply `consume', while
   `gobble down' tends to imply `obtain'. "The output spy gobbles characters out of a {tty}
   output buffer." "I guess I'll gobble down a copy of the documentation tomorrow." See also

Godzillagram: /god-zil'*-gram/ n. [from Japan's national hero] 1. A network packet that in
   theory is a broadcast to every machine in the universe.  The typical case of this is an IP
   datagram whose destination IP address is [].  Fortunately, few gateways are
   foolish enough to attempt to implement this! 2. A network packet of maximum size. An IP
   Godzillagram has 65,536 octets.

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

golf-ball printer: n. The IBM 2741, a slow but letter-quality printing device and terminal
   based on the IBM Selectric typewriter. The `golf ball' was a round object bearing reversed
   embossed images of 88 different characters arranged on four meridians of latitude; one
   could change the font by swapping in a different golf ball. This was the technology that
   enabled APL to use a non-EBCDIC, non-ASCII, and in fact completely non-standard character
   set. This put it 10 years ahead of its time --- where it stayed, firmly rooted, for the
   next 20, until character displays gave way to programmable bit-mapped devices with the
   flexibility to support other character sets.

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

gonkulator: /gon'kyoo-lay-tr/ [from the old "Hogan's Heroes" TV series] n. A pretentious piece
   of equipment that actually serves no useful purpose.  Usually used to describe one's least
   favourite piece of computer hardware.  See {gonk}.

gonzo: /gon'zoh/ [from Hunter S. Thompson] adj. Overwhelming; outrageous; over the top; very
   large, esp. used of collections of source code, source files, or individual functions. Has
   some of the connotations of {moby} and {hairy}, but without the implication of obscurity or

Good Thing: n.,adj. Often capitalized; always pronounced as if capitalized. 1. Self-evidently
   wonderful to anyone in a position to notice: "The Trailblazer's 19.2Kbaud PEP mode with
   on-the-fly Lempel-Ziv compression is a Good Thing for sites relaying netnews." 2. Something
   that can't possibly have any ill side-effects and may save considerable grief later:
   "Removing the self-modifying code from that shared library would be a Good Thing." 3. When
   said of software tools or libraries, as in "YACC is a Good Thing", specifically connotes
   that the thing has drastically reduced a programmer's work load.  Oppose {Bad Thing}.

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

gorp: /gorp/ [CMU: perhaps from the canonical hiker's food, Good Old Raisins and Peanuts]
   Another metasyntactic variable, like {foo} and {bar}.

GOSMACS: /goz'maks/ [contraction of `Gosling EMACS'] n. The first {EMACS}-in-C implementation,
   predating but now largely eclipsed by {GNUMACS}. Originally freeware; a commercial version
   is now modestly popular as `UniPress EMACS'. The author (James Gosling) went on to invent

Gosperism: /gos'p*r-izm/ A hack, invention, or saying by arch-hacker R. William (Bill) Gosper.
   This notion merits its own term because there are so many of them. Many of the entries in
   {HAKMEM} are Gosperisms; see also {life}.

gotcha: n. A {misfeature} of a system, especially a programming language or environment, that
   tends to breed bugs or mistakes because it behaves in an unexpected way.  For example, a
   classic gotcha in {C} is the fact that `if (a=b) {code;}' is syntactically valid and
   sometimes even correct.  It puts the value of `b' into `a' and then executes `code' if `a'
   is non-zero.  What the programmer probably meant was `if (a==b) {code;}', which executes
   `code' if `a' and `b' are equal.

GPL: /G-P-L/ n. Abbrev. for `General Public License' in widespread use; see {copyleft}.

GPV: /G-P-V/ n. Abbrev. for {General Public Virus} in widespread use.

grault: /grawlt/ n. Yet another meta-syntactic variable, invented by Mike Gallaher and
   propagated by the {GOSMACS} documentation.  See {corge}.

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

Great Renaming: n. The {flag day} on which all of the non-local groups on the {USENET} had
   their names changed from the net.- format to the current multiple-hierarchies scheme.

Great Runes: n. Uppercase-only text or display messages. Some archaic operating systems still
   emit these. See also {runes}, {smash case}, {fold case}.
   Decades ago, back in the days when it was the sole supplier of long-distance hardcopy
   transmittal devices, the Teletype Corporation was faced with a major design choice. To
   shorten code lengths and cut complexity in the printing mechanism, it had been decided that
   teletypes would use a monocase font, either ALL UPPER or all lower. The question was, which
   one to choose. A study was conducted on readability under various conditions of bad ribbon,
   worn print hammers, etc. Lowercase won; it is less dense and has more distinctive
   letterforms, and is thus much easier to read both under ideal conditions and when the
   letters are mangled or partly obscured. The results were filtered up through {management}.
   The chairman of Teletype killed the proposal because it failed one incredibly important

     "It would be impossible to spell the name of the Deity correctly."

   In this way (or so, at least, hacker folklore has it) superstition triumphed over utility.
   Teletypes were the major input devices on most early computers, and terminal manufacturers
   looking for corners to cut naturally followed suit until well into the 1970s. Thus, that
   one bad call stuck us with Great Runes for thirty years.

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

Green Book: n. 1. One of the three standard PostScript references: `PostScript Language
   Program Design', bylined `Adobe Systems' (Addison-Wesley, 1988; QA76.73.P67P66 ISBN;
   0-201-14396-8); see also {Red Book}, {Blue Book}).  2. Informal name for one of the three
   standard references on SmallTalk: `Smalltalk-80: Bits of History, Words of Advice', by Glenn
   Krasner (Addison-Wesley, 1983; QA76.8.S635S58; ISBN 0-201-11669-3) (this, too, is associated
   with blue and red books).  3. The `X/Open Compatibility Guide'.  Defines an international
   standard {{UNIX}} environment that is a proper superset of POSIX/SVID; also includes
   descriptions of a standard utility toolkit, systems administrations features, and the like.
   This grimoire is taken with particular seriousness in Europe. See {Purple Book}. 4. The IEEE
   1003.1 POSIX Operating Systems Interface standard has been dubbed "The Ugly Green Book".
   5. Any of the 1992 standards which will be issued by the CCITT's tenth plenary assembly.
   Until now, these have changed colour each review cycle (1984 was {Red Book}, 1988 {Blue
   Book}); however, it is rumoured that this convention is going to be dropped before 1992.
   These include, among other things, the X.400 email standard and the Group 1 through 4 fax
   standards.  See also {{book titles}}.

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

green card: n. [after the `IBM System/360 Reference Data' card] This is used for any summary
   of an assembly language, even if the colour is not green.  Less frequently used now because
   of the decrease in the use of assembly language.  "I'll go get my green card so I can check
   the addressing mode for that instruction." Some green cards are actually booklets.
   The original green card became a yellow card when the System/370 was introduced, and later
   a yellow booklet.  An anecdote from IBM refers to a scene that took place in a programmers'
   terminal room at Yorktown in 1978. A luser overheard one of the programmers ask another "Do
   you have a green card?" The other grunted and passed the first a thick yellow booklet. At
   this point the luser turned a delicate shade of olive and rapidly left the room, never to
   return.  See also {card}.

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

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

Green's Theorem: [TMRC] prov. For any story, in any group of people there will be at least one
   person who has not heard the story. [The name of this theorem is a play on a fundamental
   theorem in calculus. --- ESR]

grep: /grep/ [from the qed/ed editor idiom g/re/p , where re stands for a regular expression,
   to Globally search for the Regular Expression and Print the lines containing matches to it,
   via {{UNIX}} `grep(1)'] vt. To rapidly scan a file or file set looking for a particular
   string or pattern. By extension, to look for something by pattern. "Grep the bulletin board
   for the system backup schedule, would you?"  See also {vgrep}.

grind: vt. 1. [MIT and Berkeley] To format code, especially LISP code, by indenting lines so
   that it looks pretty. This usage was associated with the MacLISP community and is now rare;
   {prettyprint} was and is the generic term for such operations.  2. [UNIX] To generate the
   formatted version of a document from the nroff, troff, TeX, or Scribe source. The BSD
   program `vgrind(1)' grinds code for printing on a Versatec bitmapped printer. 3. To run
   seemingly interminably, esp. (but not necessarily) if performing some tedious and inherently
   useless task. Similar to {crunch} or {grovel}. Grinding has a connotation of using a lot of
   CPU time, but it is possible to grind a disk, network, etc. See also {hog}. 4. To make the
   whole system slow. "Troff really grinds a PDP-11." 5. `grind grind' excl. Roughly, "Isn't
   the machine slow today!"

grind crank: n. A mythical accessory to a terminal. A crank on the side of a monitor, which
   when operated makes a zizzing noise and causes the computer to run faster. Usually one does
   not refer to a grind crank out loud, but merely makes the appropriate gesture and noise.
   See {grind} and {wugga wugga}.
   Historical note: At least one real machine actually had a grind crank --- the R1, a research
   machine built toward the end of the days of the great vacuum tube computers, in 1959. R1
   (also known as `The Rice Institute Computer' (TRIC) and later as `The Rice University
   Computer' (TRUC)) had a single-step/free-run switch for use when debugging programs. Since
   single-stepping through a large program was rather tedious, there was also a crank with a
   cam and gear arrangement that repeatedly pushed the single-step button. This allowed one to
   `crank' through a lot of code, then slow down to single-step for a bit when you got near the
   code of interest, poke at some registers using the console typewriter, and then keep on

gritch: /grich/ 1. n. A complaint (often caused by a {glitch}). 2. vi. To complain. Often
   verb-doubled: "Gritch gritch".  3. A  synonym for {glitch} (as verb or noun).

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

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

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

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

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

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

gubbish: /guhb'*sh/ [a portmanteau of `garbage' and `rubbish'?] n. Garbage; crap; nonsense.
   "What is all this gubbish?"  The opposite portmanteau `rubbage' is also reported.

guiltware: /gilt'weir/ n. 1. A piece of {freeware} decorated with a message telling one how
   long and hard the author worked on it and intimating that one is a no-good freeloader if
   one does not immediately send the poor suffering martyr gobs of money. 2. {Shareware} that

gumby: /guhm'bee/ [from a class of Monty Python characters, poss. themselves named after the
   1960s claymation character] n. An act of minor but conspicuous stupidity, often in `gumby
   manoeuver' or `pull a gumby'.

gun: [ITS: from the `:GUN' command] vt. To forcibly terminate a program or job (computer, not
   career).  "Some idiot left a background process running soaking up half the cycles, so I
   gunned it."  Compare {can}.

gunch: /guhnch/ [TMRC] vt. To push, prod, or poke at a device that has almost produced the
   desired result.  Implies a threat to {mung}.

gurfle: /ger'fl/ interj. An expression of shocked disbelief. "He said we have to recode this
   thing in FORTRAN by next week. Gurfle!"  Compare {weeble}.

guru: n. 1. [UNIX] An expert. Implies not only {wizard} skill but also a history of being a
   knowledge resource for others. Less often, used (with a qualifier) for other experts on
   other systems, as in `VMS guru'. See {source of all good bits}. 2. Amiga equivalent of
   `panic' in UNIX.  When the system crashes, a cryptic message "GURU MEDITATION
   #XXXXXXXX.YYYYYYYY" appears, indicating what the problem was. An Amiga guru can figure
   things out from the numbers. Generally a {guru} event must be followed by a {Vulcan nerve

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