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Jargon used in computing

= I =

I didn't change anything!: interj. An aggrieved cry often heard as bugs manifest during a
   regression test. The {canonical} reply to this assertion is "Then it works just the same as
   it did before, doesn't it?" See also {one-line fix}. This is also heard from applications
   programmers trying to blame an obvious applications problem on an unrelated systems software
   change, for example a divide-by-0 fault after terminals were added to a network. Usually,
   their statement is found to be false. Upon close questioning, they will admit some major
   restructuring of the program that shouldn't have broken anything, in their opinion, but
   which actually {hosed} the code completely.

I see no X here.: Hackers (and the interactive computer games they write) traditionally favour
   this slightly marked usage over other possible equivalents such as "There's no X here!" or
   "X is missing." or "Where's the X?". This goes back to the original PDP-10 {ADVENT}, which
   would respond in this wise if you asked it to do something involving an object not present
   at your location in the game.

i14y: // n. Abbrev. for `interoperability', with the `14' replacing fourteen letters. Used in
   the {X} (windows) community.  Refers to portability and compatibility of data formats (even
   binary ones) between different programs or implementations of the same program on different

i18n: // n. Abbrev. for `internationali{z,s}ation', with the 18 replacing 18 letters. Used in
   the {X} (windows) community.

IBM: /I-B-M/ Inferior But Marketable; It's Better Manually; Insidious Black Magic; It's Been
   Malfunctioning; Incontinent Bowel Movement; and a near-{infinite} number of even less
   complimentary expansions, including `International Business Machines'. See {TLA}. These
   abbreviations illustrate the considerable antipathy most hackers have long felt toward the
   `industry leader' (see {fear and loathing}).
   What galls hackers about most IBM machines above the PC level isn't so much that they are
   underpowered and overpriced (though that does count against them), but that the designs are
   incredibly archaic, {crufty}, and {elephantine} ... and you can't *fix* them --- source code
   is locked up tight, and programming tools are expensive, hard to find, and bletcherous to
   use once you've found them. With the release of the UNIX-based RIOS family this may have
   begun to change --- but then, we thought that when the PC-RT came out, too.
   In the spirit of universal peace and brotherhood, this lexicon now includes a number of
   entries attributed to `IBM'; these derive from some rampantly unofficial jargon lists
   circulated within IBM's own beleaguered hacker underground.

IBM discount: n. A price increase. Outside IBM, this derives from the common perception that
   IBM products are generally overpriced (see {clone}); inside, it is said to spring from a
   belief that large numbers of IBM employees living in an area cause prices to rise.

ice: [coined by USENETter Tom Maddox, popularized by William Gibson's cyberpunk SF novels:
   acronym for `Intrusion Countermeasure Electronics'] Security software (in Gibson's novels,
   software that responds to intrusion by attempting to literally kill the intruder). Also,
   `icebreaker': a program designed for cracking security on a system.  Neither term is in
   serious use yet as of mid-1991, but many hackers find the metaphor attractive, and each may
   develop a denotation in the future.

ifdef out: /if'def owt/ v. Syn. for {condition out}, specific to {C}.

ill-behaved: adj. 1. [numerical analysis] Said of an algorithm or computational method that
   tends to blow up because of accumulated roundoff error or poor convergence properties.
   2. Software that bypasses the defined {OS} interfaces to do things (like screen, keyboard,
   and disk I/O) itself, often in a way that depends on the hardware of the machine it is
   running on or which is nonportable or incompatible with other pieces of software. In the
   IBM PC/MS-DOS world, there is a folk theorem (nearly true) to the effect that (owing to
   gross inadequacies and performance penalties in the OS interface) all interesting
   applications are ill-behaved.  See also {bare metal}. Oppose {well-behaved}, compare
   {PC-ism}.  See {mess-dos}.

IMHO: // [from SF fandom via USENET; acronym for `In My Humble Opinion'] "IMHO, mixed-case C
   names should be avoided, as mistyping something in the wrong case can cause hard-to-detect
   errors --- and they look too Pascalish anyhow."  Also seen in variant forms such as IMNSHO
   (In My Not-So-Humble Opinion) and IMAO (In My Arrogant Opinion).

in the extreme: adj. A preferred superlative suffix for many hackish terms. See, for example,
   `obscure in the extreme' under {obscure}, and compare {highly}.

incantation: n. Any particularly arbitrary or obscure command that one must mutter at a system
   to attain a desired result. Not used of passwords or other explicit security features.
   Especially used of tricks that are so poorly documented they must be learned from a
   {wizard}. "This compiler normally locates initialized data in the data segment, but if you
   {mutter} the right incantation they will be forced into text space."

include: vt. [USENET] 1. To duplicate a portion (or whole) of another's message (typically
   with attribution to the source) in a reply or followup, for clarifying the context of one's
   response. See the the discussion of inclusion styles under "Hacker Writing Style". 2. [from
   {C}] `#include <disclaimer.h>' has appeared in {sig block}s to refer to a notional `standard
   disclaimer file'.

include war: n. Excessive multi-leveled including within a discussion {thread}, a practice
   that tends to annoy readers. In a forum with high-traffic newsgroups, such as USENET, this
   can lead to {flame}s and the urge to start a {kill file}.

indent style: [C programmers] n. The rules one uses to indent code in a readable fashion; a
   subject of {holy wars}. There are four major C indent styles, described below; all have the
   aim of making it easier for the reader to visually track the scope of control constructs.
   The significant variable is the placement of `{' and `}' with respect to the statement(s)
   they enclose and the guard or controlling statement (`if', `else', `for', `while', or `do')
   on the block, if any.

   `K&R style' --- Named after Kernighan & Ritchie, because the examples in {K&R} are formatted
   this way. Also called `kernel style' because the UNIX kernel is written in it, and the `One
   True Brace Style' (abbrev. 1TBS) by its partisans. The basic indent shown here is eight
   spaces (or one tab) per level; four or are occasionally seen, but are much less common.

     if (cond) {

   `Allman style' --- Named for Eric Allman, a Berkeley hacker who wrote a lot of the BSD
   utilities in it (it is sometimes called `BSD style').  Resembles normal indent style in
   Pascal and Algol. Basic indent per level shown here is eight spaces, but four is just as
   common (esp. in C++ code).

     if (cond)

   `Whitesmiths style' --- popularized by the examples that came with Whitesmiths C, an early
   commercial C compiler.  Basic indent per level shown here is eight spaces, but four is
   occasionally seen.

     if (cond)

   `GNU style' --- Used throughout GNU EMACS and the Free Software Foundation code, and just
   about nowhere else. Indents are always four spaces per level, with `{' and `}' halfway
   between the outer and inner indent levels.

     if (cond)

   Surveys have shown the Allman and Whitesmiths styles to be the most common, with about
   equal mind shares. K&R/1TBS used to be nearly universal, but is now much less common (the
   opening brace tends to get lost against the right paren of the guard part in an `if' or
   `while', which is a {Bad Thing}). Defenders of 1TBS argue that any putative gain in
   readability is less important than their style's relative economy with vertical space,
   which enables one to see more code on one's screen at once. Doubtless these issues will
   continue to be the subject of {holy wars}.

index: n. See {coefficient}.

infant mortality: n. It is common lore among hackers that the chances of sudden hardware
   failure drop off exponentially with a machine's time since power-up (that is, until the
   relatively distant time at which enough mechanical wear in I/O devices and thermal-cycling
   stress in components has accumulated for the machine to start going senile). Up to half of
   all chip and wire failures happen within a new system's first few weeks; such failures are
   often referred to as `infant mortality' problems (or, occasionally, as `sudden infant death
   syndrome'). See {bathtub curve}, {burn-in period}.

infinite: adj. Consisting of a large number of objects; extreme. Used very loosely as in:
   "This program produces infinite garbage."  "He is an infinite loser."  The word most likely
   to follow `infinite', though, is {hair} (it has been pointed out that fractals are an
   excellent example of infinite hair).  These uses are abuses of the word's mathematical
   meaning.  The term `semi-infinite', denoting an immoderately large amount of some resource,
   is also heard.  "This compiler is taking a semi-infinite amount of time to optimize my
   program."  See also {semi}.

infinite loop: n. One that never terminates (that is, the machine {spin}s or {buzz}es forever;
   the usual symptom is {catatonia}).  There is a standard joke that has been made about each
   generation's exemplar of the ultra-fast machine: "The Cray-3 is so fast it can execute an
   infinite loop in under 2 seconds!"

infinity: n. 1. The largest value that can be represented in a particular type of variable
   (register, memory location, data type, whatever).  2. `minus infinity': The smallest such
   value, not necessarily or even usually the simple negation of plus infinity. In N-bit
   twos-complement arithmetic, infinity is 2^{N-1} - 1 but minus infinity is - (2^{N-1}), not
   -(2^{N-1} - 1). Note also that this is different from "time T equals minus infinity", which
   is closer to a mathematician's usage of infinity.

insanely great: adj. [Mac community, from Steve Jobs; also BSD UNIX people via Bill Joy]
   Something so incredibly {elegant} that it is imaginable only to someone possessing the most
   puissant of {hacker}-natures.

INTERCAL: /in't*r-kal/ [said by the authors to stand for `Compiler Language With No
   Pronounceable Acronym'] n. A computer language designed by Don Woods and James Lyon in 1972.
   INTERCAL is purposely different from all other computer languages in all ways but one; it is
   purely a written language, being totally unspeakable. An excerpt from the INTERCAL Reference
   Manual will make the style of the language clear:

        It is a well-known and oft-demonstrated fact that a person whose work is
        incomprehensible is held in high esteem. For example, if one were to state
        that the simplest way to store a value of 65536 in a 32-bit INTERCAL variable is:

          DO :1 <- #0$#256

        any sensible programmer would say that that was absurd. since this is indeed the
        simplest method, the programmer would be made to look foolish in front of his
        boss, who would of course have happened to turn up, as bosses are wont to do.
        the effect would be no less devastating for the programmer having been correct.

   intercal has many other peculiar features designed to make it even more unspeakable. the
   woods-lyons implementation was actually used by many (well, at least several) people at
   princeton. the language has been recently reimplemented as c-intercal and is consequently
   enjoying an unprecedented level of unpopularity; there is even an alt.lang.intercal
   newsgroup devoted to the study and ... appreciation of the language on usenet.

interesting: adj. in hacker parlance, this word has strong connotations of `annoying', or
   `difficult', or both. hackers relish a challenge, and enjoy wringing all the irony possible
   out of the ancient chinese curse "May you live in interesting times". oppose {trivial},

internet address:: n. 1. [techspeak] an absolute network address of the form foo@bar.baz, where
   foo is a user name, bar is a {sitename}, and baz is a `domain' name, possibly including
   periods itself. Contrast with {bang path}; see also {network, the} and {network address}.
   All Internet machines and most UUCP sites can now resolve these addresses, thanks to a large
   amount of behind-the-scenes magic and PD software written since 1980 or so. See also {bang
   path}, {domainist}. 2. More loosely, any network address reachable through Internet; this
   includes {bang path} addresses and some internal corporate and government networks.
   Reading Internet addresses is something of an art.  Here are the four most important
   top-level functional Internet domains followed by a selection of geographical domains:

          commercial organizations
          educational institutions
          government civilian sites
          military sites
          sites in the U.S. outside the functional domains
          sites in the Soviet Union (see {kremvax}).
          sites in the United Kingdom

   Within the us domain, there are subdomains for the fifty states, each generally with a name
   identical to the state's postal abbreviation. within the uk domain, there is an ac subdomain
   for academic sites and a co domain for commercial ones. other top-level domains may be
   divided up in similar ways.

interrupt: 1. [techspeak] n. on a computer, an event that interrupts normal processing and
   temporarily diverts flow-of-control through an "interrupt handler" routine. see also {trap}.
   2. interj. a request for attention from a hacker. often explicitly spoken. "Interrupt ---
   have you seen Joe recently?" see {priority interrupt}. 3. under ms-dos, the term `interrupt'
   is nearly synonymous with `system call', because the os and bios routines are both called
   using the int instruction (see {{interrupt list, the}}) and because programmers so often
   have to bypass the os (going directly to a bios interrupt) to get reasonable performance.

interrupt list, the:: [ms-dos] n. the list of all known software interrupt calls (both
   documented and undocumented) for ibm pcs and compatibles, maintained and made available for
   free redistribution by ralf brown. as of early 1991, it had grown to approximately a
   megabyte in length.

interrupts locked out: when someone is ignoring you. in a restaurant, after several fruitless
   attempts to get the waitress's attention, a hacker might well observe "She must have
   interrupts locked out". The synonym `interrupts disabled' is also common. variations of this
   abound; "to have one's interrupt mask bit set" or "interrupts masked out" is also heard.
   see also {spl}.

iron: n. hardware, especially older and larger hardware of {mainframe} class with big metal
   cabinets housing relatively low-density electronics (but the term is also used of modern
   supercomputers). often in the phrase {big iron}. oppose {silicon}. see also {dinosaur}.

iron age: n. in the history of computing, 1961--1971 --- the formative era of commercial
   {mainframe} technology, when {big iron} {dinosaur}s ruled the earth. these began with the
   delivery of the first pdp-1, coincided with the dominance of ferrite {core}, and ended with
   the introduction of the first commercial microprocessor (the intel 4004) in 1971.  see also
   {stone age}; compare {elder days}.

iron box: [unix/internet] n. a special environment set up to trap a {cracker} logging in over
   remote connections long enough to be traced.  may include a modified {shell} restricting
   the hacker's movements in unobvious ways, and `bait' files designed to keep him interested
   and logged on.  see also {back door}, {firewall machine}, {venus flytrap}, and clifford
   stoll's account in `The Cuckoo's egg' of how he made and used one (see the Bibliography).
   Compare {padded cell}.

ironmonger: [IBM] n. Derogatory. A hardware specialist. Compare {sandbender}, {polygon pusher}.

ITS:: /I-T-S/ n. 1. Incompatible Time-sharing System, an influential but highly idiosyncratic
   operating system written for PDP-6s and PDP-10s at MIT and long used at the MIT AI Lab.
   Much AI-hacker jargon derives from ITS folklore, and to have been `an ITS hacker' qualifies
   one instantly as an old-timer of the most venerable sort.  its pioneered many important
   innovations, including transparent file sharing between machines and terminal-independent
   i/o. after about 1982, most actual work was shifted to newer machines, with the remaining
   its boxes run essentially as a hobby and service to the hacker community. the shutdown of
   the lab's last ITS machine in May 1990 marked the end of an era and sent old-time hackers
   into mourning nationwide (see {high moby}). The Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden is
   maintaining one `live' its site at its computer museum (right next to the only tops-10
   system still on the internet), so its is still alleged to hold the record for os in longest
   continuous use (however, {{waits}} is a credible rival for this palm). see appendix a.
   2. a mythical image of operating-system perfection worshiped by a bizarre, fervent retro-
   cult of old-time hackers and ex-users (see {troglodyte}, sense 2).  its worshipers manage
   somehow to continue believing that an os maintained by assembly-language hand-hacking that
   supported only monocase 6-character filenames in one directory per account remains superior
   to today's state of commercial art (their venom against UNIX is particularly intense). See
   also {holy wars}, {Weenix}.

IWBNI: // [acronym] `It Would Be Nice If'.  compare {wibni}.

iyfeg: // [usenet] abbreviation for `insert your favorite ethnic group'. Used as a meta-name
   when telling racist jokes on the net to avoid offending anyone.  See {JEDR}.

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