The Lingo of
is just a little something in case you thought you weren't Geeky enough.
door n. In the security of a system, a hole deliberately left in place
by designers or maintainers. May be intended for use by service technicians.
syn. trap door.
bucket n. 1. The universal data sink. Discarded, lost or destroyed data
is said to have gone to the bit bucket. Sometimes amplified as "The
Great Bit Bucket in the Sky."
n. One who breaks security on a system. Coined by hackers in defense against
journalistic misuse of the term "hacker." The term
"cracker" reflects a strong revulsion at the theft and vandalism
perpetrated by cracking rings. There is far less overlap between hackerdom
and crackerdom than most would suspect.
magic n. An awesomely arcane technique central to a program or system,
esp. one that could only have been composed by a true wizard. Many
techniques in cryptography, signal processing, graphics and artificial
intelligence are deep magic.
interj. 1. Term of disgust. 2. Used very generally as a sample name for
absolutely anything, esp. programs and files. Etymology is obscure.
n. 1. A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and
how to stretch their capabilities. 2. One who programs enthusiastically. 3.
A person who is good at programming quickly. 4. An expert at a particular
program, as in 'a Unix hacker'. 5. [deprecated] A malicious meddler who
tries to discover sensitive information by poking around. The correct term
for this sense is "cracker."
n. "Keep It Simple, Stupid." Often invoked when discussing design
to fend off creeping featurism and control development complexity. Possibly
related to the marketroid maxim, "Keep It Short and Simple."
n. 1. A Rube Goldberg (or Heath Robinson) device, whether in hardware or
software. 2. A clever programming trick intended to solve a particularly
nasty case in an expedient, if not clear, manner. 3. Something that works
for the wrong reason.
of MIPS but no I/O adj. A person who is technically brilliant but who
can't seem to communicate with human beings effectively. Technically it
describes a machine that has lots of processing power but is bottlenecked on
vt. 1. [derogatory] To imperfectly transform information. 2. A comprehensive
rewrite of a routine, data structure or whole program. 3. To modify data in
some way that the speaker doesn't need to go into right now.
n. The conventions of politeness recognized on Usenet, such as avoidance of
cross-pointing to inappropriate groups and refraining from commercial
pluggery outside the biz groups.
n. 1. The art and science of cracking the phone network (so as, for example,
to make free long-distance calls). 2. By extension, security-cracking in any
other context (especially, but not exclusively, on communications networks).
n. Eyestrain brought on by too many hours of looking at low-res, poorly
tuned or glare-ridden monitors, esp. graphics monitors.
imp. [Acronym for 'Read The F—— Manual.'] 1. Used by gurus to brush off
questions they consider trivial or annoying. 2. Used when reporting a
problem to indicate that you aren't just asking out of randomness:
"Yes, I RTFM first."
through obscurity n. (alt. security by obscurity) A hacker term for
vendors' favorite way of coping with security holes — namely, ignoring
them; documenting neither any known holes nor the underlying security
algorithms; or trusting that nobody will find out about them, and that
people who did find about them won't exploit them. This "strategy"
never works for long.
n. An individual hired to break into places in order to test their security;
analogous to "tiger team."
code n. Code with a complex and tangled control structure, esp. one
using many GOTOs, exceptions or other 'unstructured' branching constructs.
Pejorative. The synonym kangaroo code has also been reported, doubtless
because such code has so many jumps in it.
time bomb n. A subspecies of
logic bomb that is triggered by reaching some preset time; set to go off if
the programmer is fired or laid off and is not present to perform the
appropriate suppressing action periodically.
horse n. A malicious, security-breaking program that is disguised as
something benign, such as a directory lister, archiver, game or (in one
notorious 1990 case on the Mac) a program to find and destroy viruses.
n. Products announced far in advance of any release.
programming n. The use by guess or cookbook of an obscure or hairy
system, feature or algorithm that one does not truly understand. The
implication is that the technique may not work, and if it doesn't, one will
never know why.
nerve pinch n. The keyboard combination that forces a soft-boot or jump
to ROM monitor (on machines that support such a feature). On many micros
this is Ctrl-Alt-Del; on Suns, L1-A; on some Macintoshes, it is ! Also
called the "three-finger salute."
wedged adj. 1. To be stuck,
incapable of proceeding without help. This is different from having crashed.
If the system has crashed, it has become totally nonfunctioning. If the
system is wedged, it is trying to do something but cannot make progress. 2.
Often refers to humans suffering misconceptions.
n. 1. The human nervous system, as opposed to computer hardware or software.
2. Human beings (programmers, operators, administrators) attached to a
computer system, as opposed to that system's hardware or software.
n. A person who knows how a complex piece of software or hardware works;
esp. someone who can find and fix bugs quickly in an emergency. Someone is a
hacker if he or she has general hacking ability, but is a wizard only if he
or she has detailed knowledge.
n. A person with a closed mind.