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Jargon used in computing

= H =

h: [from SF fandom] infix. A method of `marking' common words, i.e., calling attention to the
   fact that they are being used in a nonstandard, ironic, or humourous way. Originated in the
   fannish catchphrase "Bheer is the One True Ghod!" from decades ago. H-infix marking of
   `Ghod' and other words spread into the 1960s counterculture via underground comix, and into
   early hackerdom either from the counterculture or from SF fandom (the three overlapped
   heavily at the time). More recently, the h infix has become an expected feature of benchmark
   names (Dhrystone, Rhealstone, etc.); this is prob. patterning on the original Whetstone
   (the name of a laboratory) but influenced by the fannish/counterculture h infix.

ha ha only serious: [from SF fandom, orig. as mutation of HHOK, `Ha Ha Only Kidding'] A phrase
   (often seen abbreviated as HHOS) that aptly captures the flavour of much hacker discourse.
   Applied especially to parodies, absurdities, and ironic jokes that are both intended and
   perceived to contain a possibly disquieting amount of truth, or truths that are constructed
   on in-joke and self-parody. This lexicon contains many examples of ha-ha-only-serious in
   both form and content. Indeed, the entirety of hacker culture is often perceived as
   ha-ha-only-serious by hackers themselves; to take it either too lightly or too seriously
   marks a person as an outsider, a {wannabee}, or in {larval stage}. For further enlightenment
   on this subject, consult any Zen master.  See also {{Humor, Hacker}}, and {AI koans}.

hack: 1. n. Originally, a quick job that produces what is needed, but not well. 2. n. An
   incredibly good, and perhaps very time-consuming, piece of work that produces exactly what
   is needed. 3. vt. To bear emotionally or physically.  "I can't hack this heat!"  4. vt. To
   work on something (typically a program).  In an immediate sense: "What are you doing?"
   "I'm hacking TECO." In a general (time-extended) sense: "What do you do around here?" "I
   hack TECO."  More generally, "I hack `foo'" is roughly equivalent to "`foo' is my major
   interest (or project)".  "I hack solid-state physics."  5. vt. To pull a prank on.  See
   sense 2 and {hacker} (sense 5).  6. vi. To interact with a computer in a playful and
   exploratory rather than goal-directed way.  "Whatcha up to?"  "Oh, just hacking."  7. n.
   Short for {hacker}.  8. See {nethack}.
   Constructions on this term abound.  They include `happy hacking' (a farewell), `how's
   hacking?' (a friendly greeting among hackers) and `hack, hack' (a fairly content-free but
   friendly comment, often used as a temporary farewell).  For more on the meaning of hack see
   appendix A.  See also {neat hack}, {real hack}.

hack attack: [poss. by analogy with `Big Mac Attack' from ads for the McDonald's fast-food
   chain; the variant `big hack attack' is reported] n. Nearly synonymous with {hacking run},
   though the latter more strongly implies an all-nighter.

hack mode: n. 1. What one is in when hacking, of course.  2. More specifically, a Zen-like
   state of total focus on The Problem that may be achieved when one is hacking (this is why
   every good hacker is part mystic).  Ability to enter such concentration at will correlates
   strongly with wizardliness; it is one of the most important skills learned during {larval
   stage}.  Sometimes amplified as `deep hack mode'.
   Being yanked out of hack mode (see {priority interrupt}) may be experienced as a physical
   shock, and the sensation of being in it is more than a little habituating. The intensity of
   this experience is probably by itself sufficient explanation for the existence of hackers,
   and explains why many resist being promoted out of positions where they can code.  See also
   {cyberspace} (sense 2).
   Some aspects of hackish etiquette will appear quite odd to an observer unaware of the high
   value placed on hack mode. For example, if someone appears at your door, it is perfectly
   okay to hold up a hand (without turning one's eyes away from the screen) to avoid being
   interrupted.  One may read, type, and interact with the computer for quite some time before
   further acknowledging the other's presence (of course, he or she is reciprocally free to
   leave without a word).  The understanding is that you might be in {hack mode} with a lot of
   delicate {state} (sense 2) in your head, and you dare not {swap} that context out until you
   have reached a good point to pause. See also {juggling eggs}.

hack on: vt. To {hack}; implies that the subject is some pre-existing hunk of code that one is
   evolving, as opposed to something one might {hack up}.

hack together: vt. To throw something together so it will work. Unlike `kluge together' or
   {cruft together}, this does not necessarily have negative connotations.

hack up: vt. To {hack}, but generally implies that the result is a hack in sense 1 (a quick
   hack).  Contrast this with {hack on}. To `hack up on' implies a {quick-and-dirty}
   modification to an existing system.  Contrast {hacked up}; compare {kluge up}, {monkey up},
   {cruft together}.

hack value: n. Often adduced as the reason or motivation for expending effort toward a
   seemingly useless goal, the point being that the accomplished goal is a hack.  For example,
   MacLISP had features for reading and printing Roman numerals, which were installed purely
   for hack value.  See {display hack} for one method of computing hack value, but this cannot
   really be explained.  As a great artist once said of jazz: "If you hafta ask, you ain't
   never goin' to find out."

hack-and-slay: v. (also `hack-and-slash') 1. To play a {MUD} or go mudding, especially with
   the intention of {berserking} for pleasure. 2. To undertake an all-night programming/hacking
   session, interspersed with stints of mudding as a change of pace. This term arose on the
   British academic network amongst students who worked nights and logged onto Essex
   University's MUDs during public-access hours (2 A.M. to 7 A.M.).  Usually more mudding than
   work was done in these sessions.

hacked off: [analogous to `pissed off'] adj. Said of system administrators who have become
   annoyed, upset, or touchy owing to suspicions that their sites have been or are going to be
   victimized by crackers, or used for inappropriate, technically illegal, or even overtly
   criminal activities.  For example, having unreadable files in your home directory called
   `worm', `lockpick', or `goroot' would probably be an effective (as well as impressively
   obvious and stupid) way to get your sysadmin hacked off at you.

hacked up: adj. Sufficiently patched, kluged, and tweaked that the surgical scars are
   beginning to crowd out normal tissue (compare {critical mass}).  Not all programs that are
   hacked become `hacked up'; if modifications are done with some eye to coherence and
   continued maintainability, the software may emerge better for the experience. Contrast
   {hack up}.

hacker: [originally, someone who makes furniture with an axe] n. 1. A person who enjoys
   exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities, as
   opposed to most users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary.  2. One who programs
   enthusiastically (even obsessively) or who enjoys programming rather than just theorizing
   about programming.  3. A person capable of appreciating {hack value}.  4. A person who is
   good at programming quickly.  5. An expert at a particular program, or one who frequently
   does work using it or on it; as in `a UNIX hacker'. (Definitions 1 through 5 are correlated,
   and people who fit them congregate.) 6. An expert or enthusiast of any kind.  One might be
   an astronomy hacker, for example. 7. One who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively
   overcoming or circumventing limitations.  8. [deprecated] A malicious meddler who tries to
   discover sensitive information by poking around.  Hence `password hacker', `network hacker'.
   See {cracker}.
   It is better to be described as a hacker by others than to describe oneself that way.
   Hackers consider themselves something of an elite (a meritocracy based on ability), though
   one to which new members are gladly welcome. There is thus a certain ego satisfaction to be
   had in identifying yourself as a hacker (but if you claim to be one and are not, you'll
   quickly be labeled {bogus}).

hacking run: [analogy with `bombing run' or `speed run'] n. A hack session extended long
   outside normal working times, especially one longer than 12 hours.  May cause you to
   `change phase the hard way' (see {phase}).

Hacking X for Y: [ITS] n. The information ITS made publicly available about each user (the
   INQUIR record) was a sort of form in which the user could fill out fields.  On display, two
   of these fields were combined into a project description of the form "Hacking X for Y"
   (e.g., `"Hacking perceptrons for Minsky"'). This form of description became traditional and
   has since been carried over to other systems with more general facilities for
   self-advertisement (such as UNIX {plan file}s).

Hackintosh: n. 1. An Apple Lisa that has been hacked into emulating a Macintosh (also called a
   `Mac XL').  2. A Macintosh assembled from parts theoretically belonging to different models
   in the line.

hackish: /hak'ish/ adj. (also {hackishness} n.) 1. Said of something that is or involves a
   hack.  2. Of or pertaining to hackers or the hacker subculture.  See also {true-hacker}.

hackishness: n. The quality of being or involving a hack. This term is considered mildly silly.
   Syn.  {hackitude}.

hackitude: n. Syn. {hackishness}; this word is considered sillier.

hair: [back-formation from {hairy}] n. The complications that make something hairy. "Decoding
   {TECO} commands requires a certain amount of hair." Often seen in the phrase `infinite
   hair', which connotes extreme complexity.  Also in `hairiferous' (tending to promote hair
   growth): "GNUMACS Elisp encourages lusers to write complex editing modes."  "Yeah, it's
   pretty hairiferous all right." (or just: "Hair squared!")

hairy: adj. 1. Annoyingly complicated.  "{DWIM} is incredibly hairy."  2. Incomprehensible.
   "{DWIM} is incredibly hairy." 3. Of people, high-powered, authoritative, rare, expert,
   and/or incomprehensible.  Hard to explain except in context: "He knows this hairy lawyer
   who says there's nothing to worry about."  See also {hirsute}.

HAKMEM: /hak'mem/ n. MIT AI Memo 239 (February 1972). A legendary collection of neat
   mathematical and programming hacks contributed by many people at MIT and elsewhere. (The
   title of the memo really is "HAKMEM", which is a 6-letterism for `hacks memo'.) Some of them
   are very useful techniques, powerful theorems, or interesting unsolved problems, but most
   fall into the category of mathematical and computer trivia.  Here is a sampling of the
   entries (with authors), slightly paraphrased:

   Item 41 (Gene Salamin): There are exactly 23,000 prime numbers less than 2^18.

   Item 46 (Rich Schroeppel): The most *probable* suit distribution in bridge hands is 4-4-3-2,
   as compared to 4-3-3-3, which is the most *evenly* distributed.  This is because the world
   likes to have unequal numbers: a thermodynamic effect saying things will not be in the state
   of lowest energy, but in the state of lowest disordered energy.

   Item 81 (Rich Schroeppel): Count the magic squares of order 5 (that is, all the 5-by-5
   arrangements of the numbers from 1 to 25 such that all rows, columns, and diagonals add up
   to the same number).  There are about 320 million, not counting those that differ only by
   rotation and reflection.

   Item 154 (Bill Gosper): The myth that any given programming language is machine independent
   is easily exploded by computing the sum of powers of 2. If the result loops with period = 1
   with sign +, you are on a sign-magnitude machine. If the result loops with period = 1 at -1,
   you are on a twos-complement machine. If the result loops with period greater than 1,
   including the beginning, you are on a ones-complement machine.  If the result loops with
   period greater than 1, not including the beginning, your machine isn't binary --- the
   pattern should tell you the base.  If you run out of memory, you are on a string or bignum
   system.  If arithmetic overflow is a fatal error, some fascist pig with a read-only mind is
   trying to enforce machine independence.  But the very ability to trap overflow is machine
   dependent. By this strategy, consider the universe, or, more precisely, algebra: Let X = the
   sum of many powers of 2 = ...111111.  Now add X to itself: X + X = ...111110
   Thus, 2X = X - 1, so X = -1.  Therefore algebra is run on a machine (the universe) that is

   Item 174 (Bill Gosper and Stuart Nelson): 21963283741 is the only number such that if you
   represent it on the {PDP-10} as both an integer and a floating-point number, the bit
   patterns of the two representations are identical.

   Item 176 (Gosper): The "banana phenomenon" was encountered when processing a character
   string by taking the last 3 letters typed out, searching for a random occurrence of that
   sequence in the text, taking the letter following that occurrence, typing it out, and
   iterating.  This ensures that every 4-letter string output occurs in the original. The
   program typed BANANANANANANANA....  We note an ambiguity in the phrase, "the Nth occurrence
   of."  In one sense, there are five 00's in 0000000000; in another, there are nine. The
   editing program TECO finds five. Thus it finds only the first ANA in BANANA, and is thus
   obligated to type N next. By Murphy's Law, there is but one NAN, thus forcing A, and thus a
   loop.  An option to find overlapped instances would be useful, although it would require
   backing up N - 1 characters before seeking the next N-character string.

   Note: This last item refers to a {Dissociated Press} implementation. See also {banana

   HAKMEM also contains some rather more complicated mathematical and technical items, but
   these examples show some of its fun flavor.

hakspek: /hak'speek/ n. A shorthand method of spelling found on many British academic bulletin
   boards and {talker system}s. Syllables and whole words in a sentence are replaced by single
   ASCII characters the names of which are phonetically similar or equivalent, while multiple
   letters are usually dropped.  Hence, `for' becomes `4'; `two', `too', and `to' become `2';
   `ck' becomes `k'.  "Before I see you tomorrow" becomes "b4 i c u 2moro".  First appeared in
   London about 1986, and was probably caused by the slowness of available talker systems,
   which operated on archaic machines with outdated operating systems and no standard methods
   of communication.  Has become rarer since. See also {talk mode}.

hamster: n. 1. [Fairchild] A particularly slick little piece of code that does one thing well;
   a small, self-contained hack. The image is of a hamster happily spinning its exercise wheel.
   2. [UK] Any item of hardware made by Amstrad, a company famous for its cheap plastic

hand-hacking: n. 1. The practice of translating {hot spot}s from an {HLL} into hand-tuned
   assembler, as opposed to trying to coerce the compiler into generating better code. Both the
   term and the practice are becoming uncommon. See {tune}, {bum}, {by hand}; syn. with v.
   {cruft}. 2. More generally, manual construction or patching of data sets that would normally
   be generated by a translation utility and interpreted by another program, and aren't really
   designed to be read or modified by humans.

handshaking: n. Hardware or software activity designed to start or keep two machines or
   programs in synchronization as they {do protocol}. Often applied to human activity; thus, a
   hacker might watch two people in conversation nodding their heads to indicate that they have
   heard each others' points and say "Oh, they're handshaking!".  See also {protocol}.

handwave: [poss. from gestures characteristic of stage magicians] 1. v. To gloss over a complex
   point; to distract a listener; to support a (possibly actually valid) point with blatantly
   faulty logic.  2. n. The act of handwaving.  "Boy, what a handwave!"
   If someone starts a sentence with "Clearly..." or "Obviously..." or "It is self-evident
   that...", it is a good bet he is about to handwave (alternatively, use of these
   constructions in a sarcastic tone before a paraphrase of someone else's argument suggests
   that it is a handwave). The theory behind this term is that if you wave your hands at the
   right moment, the listener may be sufficiently distracted to not notice that what you have
   said is {bogus}. Failing that, if a listener does object, you might try to dismiss the
   objection with a wave of your hand.
   The use of this word is often accompanied by gestures: both hands up, palms forward,
   swinging the hands in a vertical plane pivoting at the elbows and/or shoulders (depending
   on the magnitude of the handwave); alternatively, holding the forearms in one position while
   rotating the hands at the wrist to make them flutter. In context, the gestures alone can
   suffice as a remark; if a speaker makes an outrageously unsupported assumption, you might
   simply wave your hands in this way, as an accusation, far more eloquent than words could
   express, that his logic is faulty.

hang: v. 1. To wait for an event that will never occur. "The system is hanging because it can't
   read from the crashed drive". See {wedged}, {hung}. 2. To wait for some event to occur; to
   hang around until something happens.  "The program displays a menu and then hangs until you
   type a character."  Compare {block}. 3. To attach a peripheral device, esp. in the
   construction `hang off':  "We're going to hang another tape drive off the file server."
   Implies a device attached with cables, rather than something that is strictly inside the
   machine's chassis.

Hanlon's Razor: prov. A corollary of {Finagle's Law}, similar to Occam's Razor, that reads
   "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity." The
   derivation of the common title Hanlon's Razor is unknown; a similar epigram has been
   attributed to William James.  Quoted here because it seems to be a particular favourite of
   hackers, often showing up in {fortune cookie} files and the login banners of BBS systems
   and commercial networks. This probably reflects the hacker's daily experience of
   environments created by well-intentioned but short-sighted people.

happily: adv.  Of software, used to emphasize that a program is unaware of some important fact
   about its environment, either because it has been fooled into believing a lie, or because
   it doesn't care.  The sense of `happy' here is not that of elation, but rather that of
   blissful ignorance.  "The program continues to run, happily unaware that its output is
   going to /dev/null."

hard boot: n. See {boot}.

hardcoded: adj. 1. Said of data inserted directly into a program, where it cannot be easily
   modified, as opposed to data in some {profile}, resource (see {de-rezz} sense 2), or
   environment variable that a {user} or hacker can easily modify.  2. In C, this is esp.
   applied to use of a literal instead of a `#define' macro (see {magic number}).

hardwarily: /hard-weir'*-lee/ adv. In a way pertaining to hardware. "The system is hardwarily
   unreliable."  The adjective `hardwary' is *not* traditionally used, though it has recently
   been reported from the U.K.  See {softwarily}.

hardwired: adj. 1. In software, syn. for {hardcoded}.  2. By extension, anything that is not
   modifiable, especially in the sense of customizable to one's particular needs or tastes.

has the X nature: [seems to derive from Zen Buddhist koans of the form "Does an X have the
   Buddha-nature?"] adj. Common hacker construction for `is an X', used for humorous emphasis.
   "Anyone who can't even use a program with on-screen help embedded in it truly has the
   {loser} nature!"  See also {the X that can be Y is not the true X}.

hash bucket: n. A notional receptacle into which more than one thing accessed by the same key
   or short code might be dropped. When you look up a name in the phone book (for example),
   you typically hash it by extracting its first letter; the hash buckets are the
   alphabetically ordered letter sections. This is used as techspeak with respect to code that
   uses actual hash functions; in jargon, it is used for human associative memory as well.
   Thus, two things `in the same hash bucket' may be confused with each other. "If you hash
   English words only by length, you get too many common grammar words in the first couple of
   hash buckets." Compare {hash collision}.

hash collision: [from the technical usage] n. (var. `hash clash') When used of people,
   signifies a confusion in associative memory or imagination, especially a persistent one
   (see {thinko}).  True story: One of us [ESR] was once on the phone with a friend about to
   move out to Berkeley.  When asked what he expected Berkeley to be like, the friend replied:
   "Well, I have this mental picture of naked women throwing Molotov cocktails, but I think
   that's just a collision in my hash tables."  Compare {hash bucket}.

hat: n. Common (spoken) name for the circumflex (`^', ASCII 1011110) character. See {ASCII}
   for other synonyms.

HCF: /H-C-F/ n. Mnemonic for `Halt and Catch Fire', any of several undocumented and
   semi-mythical machine instructions with destructive side-effects, supposedly included for
   test purposes on several well-known architectures going as far back as the IBM 360. The
   MC6800 microprocessor was the first for which the HCF opcode became widely known. This
   instruction caused the processor to {toggle} a subset of the bus lines as rapidly as it
   could; in some configurations this can actually cause lines to burn up.

heads down: [Sun] adj. Concentrating, usually so heavily and for so long that everything
   outside the focus area is missed. See also {hack mode} and {larval stage}, although it is
   not confined to fledgling hackers.

heartbeat: n. 1. The signal emitted by a Level 2 Ethernet transceiver at the end of every
   packet to show that the collision-detection circuit is still connected.  2. A periodic
   synchronization signal used by software or hardware, such as a bus clock or a periodic
   interrupt. 3. The `natural' oscillation frequency of a computer's clock crystal, before
   frequency division down to the machine's clock rate. 4. A signal emitted at regular
   intervals by software to demonstrate that it is still alive. Sometimes hardware is designed
   to reboot the machine if it stops hearing a heartbeat.  See also {breath-of-life packet}.

heavy metal: [Cambridge] n. Syn. {big iron}.

heavy wizardry: n. Code or designs that trade on a particularly intimate knowledge or
   experience of a particular operating system or language or complex application interface.
   Distinguished from {deep magic}, which trades more on arcane *theoretical* knowledge.
   Writing device drivers is heavy wizardry; so is interfacing to {X} (sense 2) without a
   toolkit.  Esp. found in comments similar to "Heavy wizardry begins here ...".  Compare
   {voodoo programming}.

heavyweight: adj. High-overhead; {baroque}; code-intensive; featureful, but costly. Esp. used
   of communication protocols, language designs, and any sort of implementation in which
   maximum generality and/or ease of implementation has been pushed at the expense of mundane
   considerations such as speed, memory utilization, and startup time. {EMACS} is a heavyweight
   editor; {X} is an *extremely* heavyweight window system. This term isn't pejorative, but one
   man's heavyweight is another's {elephantine} and a third's {monstrosity}. Oppose

heisenbug: /hi:'zen-buhg/ [from Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle in quantum physics] n. A
   bug that disappears or alters its behavior when one attempts to probe or isolate it. Antonym
   of {Bohr bug}; see also {mandelbug}. In C, nine out of ten heisenbugs result from either
   {fandango on core} phenomena (esp. lossage related to corruption of the malloc {arena}) or
   errors that {smash the stack}.

Helen Keller mode: n. State of a hardware or software system that is deaf, dumb, and blind,
   i.e., accepting no input and generating no output, usually due to an infinite loop or some
   other excursion into {deep space}.  (Unfair to the real Helen Keller, whose success at
   learning speech was triumphant.)  See also {go flatline}, {catatonic}.

hello, sailor!: interj. Occasional West Coast equivalent of {hello, world}; seems to have
   originated at SAIL, later associated with the game {Zork} (which also included "hello,
   aviator" and "hello, implementor"). Originally from the traditional hooker's greeting to a
   swabbie fresh off the boat, of course.

hello, wall!: excl. See {wall}.

hello, world: interj. 1. The canonical minimal test message in the C/UNIX universe. 2. Any of
   the minimal programs that emit this message.  Traditionally, the first program a C coder is
   supposed to write in a new environment is one that just prints "hello, world" to standard
   output (and indeed it is the first example program in {K&R}). Environments that generate an
   unreasonably large executable for this trivial test or which require a {hairy}
   compiler-linker invocation to generate it are considered to {lose} (see {X}). 3. Greeting
   uttered by a hacker making an entrance or requesting information from anyone present.
   "Hello, world!  Is the {VAX} back up yet?"

hex: n. 1. Short for {{hexadecimal}}, base 16.  2. A 6-pack of anything (compare {quad}, sense
   2).  Neither usage has anything to do with {magic} or {black art}, though the pun is
   appreciated and occasionally used by hackers.  True story: As a joke, some hackers once
   offered some surplus ICs for sale to be worn as protective amulets against hostile magic.
   The chips were, of course, hex inverters.

hexadecimal:: n. Base 16.  Coined in the early 1960s to replace earlier `sexadecimal', which
   was too racy and amusing for stuffy IBM, and later adopted by the rest of the industry.
   Actually, neither term is etymologically pure.  If we take `binary' to be paradigmatic, the
   most etymologically correct term for base 10, for example, is `denary', which comes from
   `deni' (ten at a time, ten each), a Latin `distributive' number; the corresponding term for
   base-16 would be something like `sendenary'.  `Decimal' is from an ordinal number; the
   corresponding prefix for 6 would imply something like `sextidecimal'. The `sexa-' prefix is
   Latin but incorrect in this context, and `hexa-' is Greek.  The word `octal' is similarly
   incorrect; a correct form would be `octaval' (to go with decimal), or `octonary' (to go
   with binary).  If anyone ever implements a base-3 computer, computer scientists will be
   faced with the unprecedented dilemma of a choice between two *correct* forms; both `ternary'
   and `trinary' have a claim to this throne.

hexit: /hek'sit/ n. A hexadecimal digit (0--9, and A--F or a--f). Used by people who claim
   that there are only *ten* digits, dammit; sixteen-fingered human beings are rather rare,
   despite what some keyboard designs might seem to imply (see {space-cadet keyboard}).

hidden flag: [scientific computation] n. An extra option added to a routine without changing
   the calling sequence. For example, instead of adding an explicit input variable to instruct
   a routine to give extra diagnostic output, the programmer might just add a test for some
   otherwise meaningless feature of the existing inputs, such as a negative mass.  Liberal use
   of hidden flags can make a program very hard to debug and understand.

high bit: [from `high-order bit'] n. 1. The most significant bit in a byte. 2. By extension,
   the most significant part of something other than a data byte: "Spare me the whole {saga},
   just give me the high bit."  See also {meta bit}, {hobbit}, {dread high-bit disease}, and
   compare the mainstream slang `bottom line'.

high moby: /hi:' mohb'ee/ n. The high half of a 512K {PDP-10}'s physical address space; the
   other half was of course the low moby. This usage has been generalized in a way that has
   outlasted the {PDP-10}; for example, at the 1990 Washington D.C. Area Science Fiction
   Conclave (Disclave), when a miscommunication resulted in two separate wakes being held in
   commemoration of the shutdown of MIT's last {{ITS}} machines, the one on the upper floor
   was dubbed the `high moby' and the other the `low moby'.  All parties involved {grok}ked
   this instantly.  See {moby}.

highly: [scientific computation] adv. The preferred modifier for overstating an understatement.
   As in: `highly nonoptimal', the worst possible way to do something; `highly nontrivial',
   either impossible or requiring a major research project; `highly nonlinear', completely
   erratic and unpredictable; `highly nontechnical', drivel written for {luser}s,
   oversimplified to the point of being misleading or incorrect (compare {drool-proof paper}).
   In other computing cultures, postfixing of {in the extreme} might be preferred.

hirsute: adj. Occasionally used humorously as a synonym for {hairy}.

HLL: /H-L-L/ n. [High-Level Language (as opposed to assembler)] Found primarily in email and
   news rather than speech.  Rarely, the variants `VHLL' and `MLL' are found.  VHLL stands for
   `Very-High-Level Language' and is used to describe a {bondage-and-discipline language} that
   the speaker happens to like; Prolog and Backus's FP are often called VHLLs. `MLL' stands for
   `Medium-Level Language' and is sometimes used half-jokingly to describe {C}, alluding to its
   `structured-assembler' image.  See also {languages of choice}.

hobbit: n. 1. The High Order Bit of a byte; same as the {meta bit} or {high bit}. 2. The
   non-ITS name of (*Hobbit*), master of lasers.

hog: n.,vt. 1. Favored term to describe programs or hardware that seem to eat far more than
   their share of a system's resources, esp. those which noticeably degrade interactive
   response. *Not* used of programs that are simply extremely large or complex or that are
   merely painfully slow themselves (see {pig, run like a}).  More often than not encountered
   in qualified forms, e.g., `memory hog', `core hog', `hog the processor', `hog the disk'. "A
   controller that never gives up the I/O bus gets killed after the bus-hog timer expires."
   2. Also said of *people* who use more than their fair share of resources (particularly disk,
   where it seems that 10% of the people use 90% of the disk, no matter how big the disk is or
   how many people use it).  Of course, once disk hogs fill up one filesystem, they typically
   find some other new one to infect, claiming to the sysadmin that they have an important new
   project to complete.

holy wars: [from {USENET}, but may predate it] n. {flame war}s over {religious issues}. The
   paper by Danny Cohen that popularized the terms {big-endian} and {little-endian} in
   connection with the LSB-first/MSB-first controversy was entitled "On Holy Wars and a Plea
   for Peace".  Other perennial Holy Wars have included {EMACS} vs. {vi}, my personal computer
   vs. everyone else's personal computer, {{ITS}} vs. {{UNIX}}, {{UNIX}} vs. {VMS}, {BSD} UNIX
   vs. {USG UNIX}, {C} vs. {{Pascal}}, {C} vs. {LISP}, etc., ad nauseam. The characteristic
   that distinguishes {holy wars} from normal technical disputes is that in a holy wars most of
   the participants spend their time trying to pass off personal value choices and cultural
   attachments as objective technical evaluations. See also {theology}.

home box: n. A hacker's personal machine, especially one he or she owns. "Yeah?  Well, *my*
   home box runs a full 4.2 BSD, so there!"

hook: n. A software or hardware feature included in order to simplify later additions or
   changes by a user. For example, a simple program that prints numbers might always print
   them in base 10, but a more flexible version would let a variable determine what base to
   use; setting the variable to 5 would make the program print numbers in base 5. The variable
   is a simple hook.  An even more flexible program might examine the variable and treat a
   value of 16 or less as the base to use, but treat any other number as the address of a
   user-supplied routine for printing a number. This is a {hairy} but powerful hook; one can
   then write a routine to print numbers as Roman numerals, say, or as Hebrew characters, and
   plug it into the program through the hook. Often the difference between a good program and a
   superb one is that the latter has useful hooks in judiciously chosen places.  Both may do
   the original job about equally well, but the one with the hooks is much more flexible for
   future expansion of capabilities ({EMACS}, for example, is *all* hooks). The term `user
   exit' is synonymous but much more formal and less hackish.

hop: n. One file transmission in a series required to get a file from point A to point B on a
   store-and-forward network.  On such networks (including {UUCPNET} and {FidoNet}), the
   important inter-machine metric is the number of hops in the shortest path between them,
   rather than their geographical separation.  See {bang path}.

hose: 1. vt. To make non-functional or greatly degraded in performance. "That big ray-tracing
   program really hoses the system."  See {hosed}.  2. n. A narrow channel through which data
   flows under pressure.  Generally denotes data paths that represent performance bottlenecks.
   3. n. Cabling, especially thick Ethernet cable. This is sometimes called `bit hose' or
   `hosery' (play on `hosiery') or `etherhose'.  See also {washing machine}.

hosed: adj. Same as {down}. Used primarily by UNIX hackers. Humourous: also implies a condition
   thought to be relatively easy to reverse. Probably derived from the Canadian slang `hoser'
   popularized by the Bob and Doug Mackenzie skits on SCTV. See {hose}. It is also widely used
   of people in the mainstream sense of `in an extremely unfortunate situation'.
   Once upon a time, a Cray that had been experiencing periodic difficulties crashed, and it
   was announced to have been hosed. It was discovered that the crash was due to the
   disconnection of some coolant hoses.  The problem was corrected, and users were then assured
   that everything was OK because the system had been rehosed. See also {dehose}.

hot spot: n. 1. [primarily used by C/UNIX programmers, but spreading] It is received wisdom
   that in most programs, less than 10% of the code eats 90% of the execution time; if one were
   to graph instruction visits versus code addresses, one would typically see a few huge spikes
   amidst a lot of low-level noise. Such spikes are called `hot spots' and are good candidates
   for heavy optimization or {hand-hacking}. The term is especially used of tight loops and
   recursions in the code's central algorithm, as opposed to (say) initial set-up costs or
   large but infrequent I/O operations.  See {tune}, {bum}, {hand-hacking}.  2. The active
   location of a cursor on a bit-map display.  "Put the mouse's hot spot on the `ON' widget
   and click the left button." 3. In a massively parallel computer with shared memory, the one
   location that all 10,000 processors are trying to read or write at once (perhaps because
   they are all doing a {busy-wait} on the same lock).

house wizard: [prob. from ad-agency lingo, `house freak'] n. A hacker occupying a technical-
   specialist, R&D, or systems position at a commercial shop. A really effective house wizard
   can have influence out of all proportion to his/her ostensible rank and still not have to
   wear a suit.  Used esp. of UNIX wizards.  The term `house guru' is equivalent.

HP-SUX: /H-P suhks/ n. Unflattering hackerism for HP-UX, Hewlett-Packard's UNIX port. Features
   some truly unique bogosities in the filesystem internals and elsewhere which occasionally
   create portability problems.  HP-UX is often referred to as `hockey-pux' inside HP, and one
   respondent claims that the proper pronunciation is /H-P ukkkhhhh/ as though one were about
   to spit.  Another such alternate spelling and pronunciation is "H-PUX" /H-puhks/. Hackers at
   HP/Apollo (the former Apollo Computers which was swallowed by HP in 1989) have been heard to
   complain that Mr. Packard should have pushed to have his name first, if for no other reason
   than the greater eloquence of the resulting acronym.  Compare {buglix}. See also {Telerat},
   {sun-stools}, {terminak}.

huff: v. To compress data using a Huffman code.  Various programs that use such methods have
   been called `HUFF' or some variant thereof.  Oppose {puff}.  Compare {crunch}, {compress}.

humma: // excl. A filler word used on various `chat' and `talk' programs when you had nothing
   to say but felt that it was important to say something.  The word apparently originated (at
   least with this definition) on the MECC Timeshare System (MTS, a now-defunct educational
   time-sharing system running in Minnesota during the 1970s and the early 1980s) but was later
   sighted on early UNIX systems.

Humor, Hacker:: n. A distinctive style of shared intellectual humour found among hackers,
   having the following distinctive characteristics:

   1. Fascination with form-vs.-content jokes, paradoxes, and humour having to do with
   confusion of metalevels (see {meta}). One way to make a hacker laugh: hold a red index card
   in front of him/her with "GREEN" written on it, or vice-versa (note, however, that this is
   funny only the first time).

   2. Elaborate deadpan parodies of large intellectual constructs, such as specifications (see
   {write-only memory}), standards documents, language descriptions (see {INTERCAL}), and even
   entire scientific theories (see {quantum bogodynamics}, {computron}).

   3. Jokes that involve screwily precise reasoning from bizarre, ludicrous, or just grossly
   counter-intuitive premises.

   4. Fascination with puns and wordplay.

   5. A fondness for apparently mindless humor with subversive currents of intelligence in it
   --- for example, old Warner Brothers and Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons, the Marx brothers, the
   early B-52s, and Monty Python's Flying Circus. Humour that combines this trait with elements
   of high camp and slapstick is especially favoured.

   6. References to the symbol-object antinomies and associated ideas in Zen Buddhism and (less
   often) Taoism. See {has the X nature}, {Discordianism}, {zen}, {ha ha only serious}, {AI

   See also {filk}, {retrocomputing}, and appendix B. If you have an itchy feeling that all 6
   of these traits are really aspects of one thing that is incredibly difficult to talk about
   exactly, you are (a) correct and (b) responding like a hacker.  These traits are also
   recognizable (though in a less marked form) throughout {{science-fiction fandom}}.

hung: [from `hung up'] adj. Equivalent to {wedged}, but more common at UNIX/C sites. Not
   generally used of people. Syn. with {locked up}, {wedged}; compare {hosed}. See also {hang}.
   A hung state is distinguished from {crash}ed or {down}, where the program or system is also
   unusable but because it is not running rather than because it is waiting for something.
   However, the recovery from both situations is often the same.

hungry puppy: n. Syn. {slopsucker}.

hungus: /huhng'g*s/ [perhaps related to slang `humongous'] adj. Large, unwieldy, usually
   unmanageable.  "TCP is a hungus piece of code."  "This is a hungus set of modifications."

hyperspace: /hi:'per-spays/ n. A memory location that is *far* away from where the program
   counter should be pointing, often inaccessible because it is not even mapped in. "Another
   core dump --- looks like the program jumped off to hyperspace somehow."  (Compare {jump off
   into never-never land}.) This usage is from the SF notion of a spaceship jumping `into
   hyperspace', that is, taking a shortcut through higher-dimensional space --- in other words,
   bypassing this universe. The variant `east hyperspace' is recorded among CMU and Bliss

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