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Jargon used in computing

= Q =

quad: n. 1. Two bits; syn. for {quarter}, {crumb}, {tayste}. 2. A four-pack of anything
   (compare {hex}, sense 2). 3. The rectangle or box glyph used in the APL language for
   various arcane purposes mostly related to I/O.  Former Ivy-Leaguers and Oxbridge types are
   said to associate it with nostalgic memories of dear old University.

quadruple bucky: n., obs. 1. On an MIT {space-cadet keyboard}, use of all four of the shifting
   keys (control, meta, hyper, and super) while typing a character key. 2. On a Stanford or MIT
   keyboard in {raw mode}, use of four shift keys while typing a fifth character, where the
   four shift keys are the control and meta keys on *both* sides of the keyboard. This was
   very difficult to do! One accepted technique was to press the left-control and left-meta
   keys with your left hand, the right-control and right-meta keys with your right hand, and
   the fifth key with your nose.
   Quadruple-bucky combinations were very seldom used in practice, because when one invented a
   new command one usually assigned it to some character that was easier to type. If you want
   to imply that a program has ridiculously many commands or features, you can say something
   like: "Oh, the command that makes it spin the tapes while whistling Beethoven's Fifth
   Symphony is quadruple-bucky-cokebottle." See {double bucky}, {bucky bits}, {cokebottle}.

quantifiers:: In techspeak and jargon, the standard metric prefixes used in the SI (Syst`eme
   International) conventions for scientific measurement have dual uses. With units of time or
   things that come in powers of 10, such as money, they retain their usual meanings of
   multiplication by powers of 1000 = 10^3. But when used with bytes or other things that
   naturally come in powers of 2 they usually denote multiplication by powers of 1024 = 2^{10}.
   Here are the magnifying prefixes in jargon use:

     prefix  decimal  binary
     kilo-   1000^1   1024^1 = 2^10 = 1,024
     mega-   1000^2   1024^2 = 2^20 = 1,048,576
     giga-   1000^3   1024^3 = 2^30 = 1,073,741,824
     tera-   1000^4   1024^4 = 2^40 = 1,099,511,627,776
     peta-   1000^5   1024^5 = 2^50 = 1,125,899,906,842,624
     exa-    1000^6   1024^6 = 2^60 = 1,152,921,504,606,846,976

   Here are the fractional prefixes:

     *prefix  decimal     jargon usage*
     milli-  1000^-1     (seldom used in jargon)
     micro-  1000^-2     small or human-scale (see {micro-})
     nano-   1000^-3     even smaller (see {nano-})
     pico-   1000^-4     even smaller yet (see {pico-})
     femto-  1000^-5     (not used in jargon---yet)
     atto-   1000^-6     (not used in jargon---yet)

   The binary peta- and exa- loadings are not in common use---yet, and the prefix milli-,
   denoting multiplication by 1000^{-1}, has always been rare (there is, however, a standard
   joke about the `millihelen' --- notionally, the amount of beauty required to launch one
   ship). See the entries on {micro-}, {pico-}, and {nano-} for more information on connotative
   jargon use of these terms. `Femto' and `atto' (which, interestingly, derive not from Greek
   but from Danish) have not yet acquired jargon loadings, though it is easy to predict what
   those will be once computing technology enters the required realms of magnitude (however,
   see {attoparsec}).
   There are, of course, some standard unit prefixes for powers of 10. In the following table,
   the `prefix' column is the international standard suffix for the appropriate power of ten;
   the `binary' column lists jargon abbreviations and words for the corresponding power of 2.
   The B-suffixed forms are commonly used for byte quantities; the words `meg' and `gig' are
   nouns which may (but do not always) pluralize with `s'.

     prefix   decimal   binary       pronunciation
     kilo-       k      K, KB,       /kay/
     mega-       M      M, MB, meg   /meg/
     giga-       G      G, GB, gig   /gig/,/jig/

   Confusingly, hackers often use K as though it were a suffix or numeric multiplier rather
   than a prefix; thus "2K dollars".  This is also true (though less commonly) of G and M.
   Note that the formal SI metric prefix for 1000 is `k'; some use this strictly, reserving
   `K' for multiplication by 1024 (KB is `kilobytes').
   K, M, and G used alone refer to quantities of bytes; thus, 64G is 64 gigabytes and `a K' is
   a kilobyte (compare mainstream use of `a G' as short for `a grand', that is, $1000).
   Whether one pronounces `gig' with hard or soft `g' depends on what one thinks the proper
   pronunciation of `giga-' is.
   Confusing 1000 and 1024 (or other powers of 2 and 10 close in magnitude) --- for example,
   describing a memory in units of 500K or 524K instead of 512K --- is a sure sign of the

quantum bogodynamics: /kwon'tm boh`goh-di:-nam'iks/ n. A theory that characterizes the universe
   in terms of bogon sources (such as politicians, used-car salesmen, TV evangelists, and
   {suit}s in general), bogon sinks (such as taxpayers and computers), and bogosity potential
   fields. Bogon absorption, of course, causes human beings to behave mindlessly and machines
   to fail (and may also cause both to emit secondary bogons); however, the precise mechanics
   of the bogon-computron interaction are not yet understood and remain to be elucidated.
   Quantum bogodynamics is most often invoked to explain the sharp increase in hardware and
   software failures in the presence of suits; the latter emit bogons, which the former absorb.
   See {bogon}, {computron}, {suit}, {psyton}.

quarter: n. Two bits. This in turn comes from the `pieces of eight' famed in pirate movies ---
   Spanish gold pieces that could be broken into eight pie-slice-shaped `bits' to make change.
   Early in American history the Spanish coin was considered equal to a dollar, so each of
   these `bits' was considered worth 12.5 cents. Syn. {tayste}, {crumb}, {quad}.  Usage: rare.
   See also {nickle}, {nybble}, {{byte}}, {dynner}.

ques: /kwes/ 1. n. The question mark character (`?', ASCII 0111111). 2. interj. What? Also
   frequently verb-doubled as "Ques ques?"  See {wall}.

quick-and-dirty: adj. Describes a {crock} put together under time or user pressure. Used esp.
   when you want to convey that you think the fast way might lead to trouble further down the
   road. "I can have a quick-and-dirty fix in place tonight, but I'll have to rewrite the
   whole module to solve the underlying design problem." See also {kluge}.

quote chapter and verse: [by analogy with the mainstream phrase] v. To reproduce a relevant
   excerpt from an appropriate {bible}. "I don't care if `rn' gets it wrong; `Followup-To:
   poster' is explicitly permitted by RFC-1036. I'll quote chapter and verse if you don't
   believe me."

quotient: n. See {coefficient}.

quux: /kwuhks/ Mythically, from the Latin semi-deponent verb quuxo, quuxare, quuxandum iri;
   noun form variously `quux' (plural `quuces', anglicized to `quuxes') and `quuxu' (genitive
   plural is `quuxuum', for four u-letters out of seven in all, using up all the `u' letters
   in Scrabble).] 1. Originally, a metasyntactic variable like {foo} and {foobar}. Invented by
   Guy Steele for precisely this purpose when he was young and na"ive and not yet interacting
   with the real computing community. Many people invent such words; this one seems simply to
   have been lucky enough to have spread a little. In an eloquent display of poetic justice,
   it has returned to the originator in the form of a nickname. 2. interj. See {foo}; however,
   denotes very little disgust, and is uttered mostly for the sake of the sound of it. 3. Guy
   Steele in his persona as `The Great Quux', which is somewhat infamous for light verse and
   for the `Crunchly' cartoons. 4. In some circles, quux is used as a punning opposite of
   `crux'. "Ah, that's the quux of the matter!" implies that the point is *not* crucial
   (compare {tip of the ice-cube}).  5. quuxy: adj. Of or pertaining to a quux.

qux: /kwuhks/ The fourth of the standard metasyntactic variables, after {baz} and before the
   quu(u...)x series. See {foo}, {bar}, {baz}, {quux}.  This appears to be a recent mutation
   from {quux}, and  many versions of the standard series just run {foo}, {bar}, {baz}, {quux},

QWERTY: /kwer'tee/ [from the keycaps at the upper left] adj. Pertaining to a standard
   English-language typewriter keyboard (sometimes called the Sholes keyboard after its
   inventor), as opposed to Dvorak or foreign-language layouts or a {space-cadet keyboard} or
   APL keyboard.
   Historical note: The QWERTY layout is a fine example of a {fossil}. It is sometimes said
   that it was designed to slow down the typist, but this is wrong; it was designed to allow
   *faster* typing --- under a constraint now long obsolete. In early typewriters, fast typing
   using nearby type-bars jammed the mechanism. So Sholes fiddled the layout to separate the
   letters of many common digraphs (he did a far from perfect job, though; `th', `tr', `ed',
   and `er', for example, each use two nearby keys). Also, putting the letters of `typewriter'
   on one line allowed it to be typed with particular speed and accuracy for {demo}s. The
   jamming problem was essentially solved soon afterward by a suitable use of springs, but the
   keyboard layout lives on.

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This page (jargonq.html) was last modified on Sunday 27/01/2013