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The New Hacker's Dictionary

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Node:BLT, Next:[1580]Blue Book, Previous:[1581]blow up, Up:[1582]= B


BLT /B-L-T/, /bl*t/ or (rarely) /belt/ n.,vt.

Synonym for [1583]blit. This is the original form of [1584]blit and the ancestor of [1585]bitblt. It referred to any large bit-field copy or move operation (one resource-intensive memory-shuffling operation done on pre-paged versions of ITS, WAITS, and TOPS-10 was sardonically referred to as `The Big BLT'). The jargon usage has outlasted the [1586]PDP-10 BLock Transfer instruction from which [1587]BLT derives; nowadays, the assembler mnemonic [1588]BLT almost always means `Branch if Less Than zero'.


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Blue Book n.

1. Informal name for one of the four standard references on the page-layout and graphics-control language [1592]PostScript ("PostScript Language Tutorial and Cookbook", Adobe Systems, Addison-Wesley 1985, QA76.73.P67P68, ISBN 0-201-10179-3); the other three official guides are known as the [1593]Green Book, the [1594]Red Book, and the [1595]White Book (sense 2). 2. Informal name for one of the three standard references on Smalltalk: "Smalltalk-80: The Language and its Implementation", David Robson, Addison-Wesley 1983, QA76.8.S635G64, ISBN 0-201-11371-63 (this book also has green and red siblings). 3. Any of the 1988 standards issued by the CCITT's ninth plenary assembly. These include, among other things, the X.400 email spec and the Group 1 through 4 fax standards. See also [1596]book titles.



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blue box

n. 1. obs. Once upon a time, before all-digital switches made it possible for the phone companies to move them out of band, one could actually hear the switching tones used to route long-distance calls. Early [1600]phreakers built devices called `blue boxes' that could reproduce these tones, which could be used to commandeer portions of the phone network. (This was not as hard as it may sound; one early phreak acquired the sobriquet `Captain Crunch' after he proved that he could generate switching tones with a plastic whistle pulled out of a box of Captain Crunch cereal!) There were other colors of box with more specialized phreaking uses; red boxes, black boxes, silver boxes, etc. 2. n. An [1601]IBM machine, especially a large (non-PC) one.


Node:Blue Glue, Next:[1602]blue goo, Previous:[1603]blue box, Up:[1604]= B =

Blue Glue n.

[IBM] IBM's SNA (Systems Network Architecture), an incredibly [1605]losing and [1606]bletcherous communications protocol widely favored at commercial shops that don't know any better. The official IBM definition is "that which binds blue boxes together." See [1607]fear and loathing. It may not be irrelevant that Blue Glue is the trade name of a 3M product that is commonly used to hold down the carpet squares to the removable panel floors common in [1608]dinosaur pens. A correspondent at U. Minn. reports that the CS department there has about 80 bottles of the stuff hanging about, so they often refer to any messy work to be done as `using the blue glue'.



Node:blue goo, Next:[1609]Blue Screen of Death, Previous:[1610]Blue Glue, Up:[1611]= B =

blue goo n.

Term for `police' [1612]nanobots intended to prevent [1613]gray goo, denature hazardous waste, destroy pollution, put ozone back into the stratosphere, prevent halitosis, and promote truth, justice, and the American way, etc. The term `Blue Goo' can be found in Dr. Seuss's "Fox In Socks" to refer to a substance much like bubblegum. `Would you like to chew blue goo, sir?'. See [1614]nanotechnology.


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Blue Screen of Death n.

[common] This term is closely related to the older [1618]Black Screen of Death but much more common (many non-hackers have picked it up). Due to the extreme fragility and bugginess of Microsoft Windows misbehaving applications can readily crash the OS (and the OS sometimes crashes itself spontaneously). The Blue Screen of Death, sometimes decorated with hex error codes, is what you get when this happens. (Commonly abbreviated [1619]BSOD.)

The following entry from the [1620]Salon Haiku Contest, seems to have predated popular use of the term: Windows NT crashed. I am the Blue Screen of Death No one hears your screams.



Node:blue wire, Next:[1621]blurgle, Previous:[1622]Blue Screen of Death, Up:[1623]= B =

blue wire n.

[IBM] Patch wires (esp. 30 AWG gauge) added to circuit boards at the factory to correct design or fabrication problems. Blue wire is not necessarily blue, the term describes function rather than color. These may be necessary if there hasn't been time to design and qualify another board version. In Great Britain this can be `bodge wire', after mainstreanm slang `bodge' for a clumsy improvisation or sloppy job of work. Compare [1624]purple wire, [1625]red wire, [1626]yellow wire, [1627]pink wire.


Node:blurgle, Next:[1628]BNF, Previous:[1629]blue wire, Up:[1630]= B =

blurgle /bler'gl/ n.

[UK] Spoken [1631]metasyntactic variable, to indicate some text that is obvious from context, or which is already known. If several words are to be replaced, blurgle may well be doubled or tripled. "To look for something in several files use `grep string blurgle blurgle'." In each case, "blurgle blurgle" would be understood to be replaced by the file you wished to search. Compare [1632]mumble, sense 7.


Node:BNF, Next:[1633]boa, Previous:[1634]blurgle, Up:[1635]= B =

BNF /B-N-F/ n.

1. [techspeak] Acronym for `Backus Normal Form' (later retronymed to `Backus-Naur Form' because BNF was not in fact a normal form), a metasyntactic notation used to specify the syntax of programming languages, command sets, and the like. Widely used for language


descriptions but seldom documented anywhere, so that it must usually be learned by osmosis from other hackers. Consider this BNF for a U.S. postal address: <postal-address> ::= <name-part> <street-address> <zip-part>

<personal-part> ::= <name> | <initial> "."

<name-part> ::= <personal-part> <last-name> [<jr-part>] <EOL> | <personal-part> <name-part>

<street-address> ::= [<apt>] <house-num> <street-name> <EOL>

<zip-part> ::= <town-name> "," <state-code> <ZIP-code> <EOL>

This translates into English as: "A postal-address consists of a name-part, followed by a street-address part, followed by a zip-code part. A personal-part consists of either a first name or an initial followed by a dot. A name-part consists of either: a personal-part followed by a last name followed by an optional `jr-part' (Jr., Sr., or dynastic number) and end-of-line, or a personal part followed by a name part (this rule illustrates the use of recursion in BNFs, covering the case of people who use multiple first and middle names and/or initials). A street address consists of an optional apartment specifier, followed by a street number, followed by a street name. A zip-part consists of a town-name, followed by a comma, followed by a state code, followed by a ZIP-code followed by an end-of-line." Note that many things (such as the format of a personal-part, apartment specifier, or ZIP-code) are left unspecified. These are presumed to be obvious from context or detailed somewhere nearby. See also [1636]parse. 2. Any of a number of variants and extensions of BNF proper, possibly containing some or all of the [1637]regexp wildcards such as * or +. In fact the example above isn't the pure form invented for the Algol-60 report; it uses [], which was introduced a few years later in IBM's PL/I definition but is now universally recognized. 3. In [1638]science-fiction fandom, a `Big-Name Fan' (someone famous or notorious). Years ago a fan started handing out black-on-green BNF buttons at SF conventions; this confused the hacker contingent terribly.



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boa [IBM] n.

Any one of the fat cables that lurk under the floor in a [1642]dinosaur pen. Possibly so called because they display a ferocious life of their own when you try to lay them straight and flat after they have been coiled for some time. It is rumored within IBM that channel cables for the 370 are limited to 200 feet because beyond that length the boas get dangerous -- and it is worth noting that one of the major cable makers uses the trademark `Anaconda'.


Node:board, Next:[1643]boat anchor, Previous:[1644]boa, Up:[1645]= B =

board n.

1. In-context synonym for [1646]bboard; sometimes used even for Usenet newsgroups (but see usage note under [1647]bboard, sense 1). 2. An electronic circuit board.


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boat anchor n.

[common; from ham radio] 1. Like [1651]doorstop but more severe; implies that the offending hardware is irreversibly dead or useless. "That was a working motherboard once. One lightning strike later, instant boat anchor!" 2. A person who just takes up space. 3. Obsolete but still working hardware, especially when used of an old S100-bus hobbyist system; originally a term of annoyance, but became more and more affectionate as


the hardware became more and more obsolete.


Node:bob, Next:[1652]bodysurf code, Previous:[1653]boat anchor, Up:[1654]= B =

bob n.

At [1655]Demon Internet, all tech support personnel are called "Bob". (Female support personnel have an option on "Bobette"). This has nothing to do with Bob the divine drilling-equipment salesman of the [1656]Church of the SubGenius. Nor is it acronymized from "Brother Of [1657]BOFH", though all parties agree it could have been. Rather, it was triggered by an unusually large draft of new tech-support people in 1995. It was observed that there would be much duplication of names. To ease the confusion, it was decided that all support techs would henceforth be known as "Bob", and identity badges were created labelled "Bob 1" and "Bob 2". ("No, we never got any further" reports a witness).

The reason for "Bob" rather than anything else is due to a [1658]luser calling and asking to speak to "Bob", despite the fact that no "Bob" was currently working for Tech Support. Since we all know "the customer is always right", it was decided that there had to be at least one "Bob" on duty at all times, just in case.

This sillyness inexorably snowballed. Shift leaders and managers began to refer to their groups of "bobs". Whole ranks of support machines were set up (and still exist in the DNS as of 1999) as bob1 through bobN. Then came alt.tech-support.recovery, and it was filled with Demon support personnel. They all referred to themselves, and to others, as `bob', and after a while it caught on. There is now a [1659]Bob Code describing the Bob nature.



Node:bodysurf code, Next:[1660]BOF, Previous:[1661]bob, Up:[1662]= B


bodysurf code n.

A program or segment of code written quickly in the heat of inspiration without the benefit of formal design or deep thought. Like its namesake sport, the result is too often a wipeout that leaves the programmer eating sand.


Node:BOF, Next:[1663]BOFH, Previous:[1664]bodysurf code, Up:[1665]= B =

BOF /B-O-F/ or /bof/ n.

1. [common] Abbreviation for the phrase "Birds Of a Feather" (flocking together), an informal discussion group and/or bull session scheduled on a conference program. It is not clear where or when this term originated, but it is now associated with the USENIX conferences for Unix techies and was already established there by 1984. It was used earlier than that at DECUS conferences and is reported to have been common at SHARE meetings as far back as the early 1960s. 2. Acronym, `Beginning of File'.


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BOFH // n.

[common] Acronym, Bastard Operator From Hell. A system administrator with absolutely no tolerance for [1669]lusers. "You say you need more filespace? <massive-global-delete> Seems to me you have plenty left..." Many BOFHs (and others who would be BOFHs if they could get away with it) hang out in the newsgroup alt.sysadmin.recovery, although there


has also been created a top-level newsgroup hierarchy (bofh.*) of their own.

Several people have written stories about BOFHs. The set usually considered canonical is by Simon Travaglia and may be found at the [1670]Bastard Home Page. BOFHs and BOFH wannabes hang out on [1671]scary devil monastery and wield [1672]LARTs.


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bogo-sort /boh`goh-sort'/ n.

(var. `stupid-sort') The archetypical perversely awful algorithm (as opposed to [1676]bubble sort, which is merely the generic bad algorithm). Bogo-sort is equivalent to repeatedly throwing a deck of cards in the air, picking them up at random, and then testing whether they are in order. It serves as a sort of canonical example of awfulness. Looking at a program and seeing a dumb algorithm, one might say "Oh, I see, this program uses bogo-sort." Esp. appropriate for algorithms with factorial or super-exponential running time in the average case and probabilistically infinite worst-case running time. Compare [1677]bogus, [1678]brute force, [1679]lasherism.

A spectacular variant of bogo-sort has been proposed which has the interesting property that, if the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics is true, it can sort an arbitrarily large array in constant time. (In the Many-Worlds model, the result of any quantum action is to split the universe-before into a sheaf of universes-after, one for each possible way the state vector can collapse; in any one of the universes-after the result appears random.) The steps are: 1. Permute the array randomly using a quantum process, 2. If the array is not sorted, destroy the universe. Implementation of step 2 is left as an exercise for the reader.



Node:bogometer, Next:[1680]BogoMIPS, Previous:[1681]bogo-sort,

Up:[1682]= B =

bogometer /boh-gom'-*t-er/ n.

A notional instrument for measuring [1683]bogosity. Compare the [1684]Troll-O-Meter and the `wankometer' described in the [1685]wank entry; see also [1686]bogus.


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BogoMIPS /bo'go-mips/ n.

The number of million times a second a processor can do absolutely nothing. The [1690]Linux OS measures BogoMIPS at startup in order to calibrate some soft timing loops that will be used later on; details at [1691]the BogoMIPS mini-HOWTO. The name Linus chose, of course, is an ironic comment on the uselessness of all other [1692]MIPS figures.


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bogon /boh'gon/ n.

[very common; by analogy with proton/electron/neutron, but doubtless reinforced after 1980 by the similarity to Douglas Adams's `Vogons'; see the [1696]Bibliography in Appendix C and note that Arthur Dent actually mispronounces `Vogons' as `Bogons' at one point] 1. The elementary particle of bogosity (see [1697]quantum bogodynamics). For instance, "the Ethernet is emitting bogons again" means that it is broken or acting in an erratic or bogus fashion. 2. A query packet sent from a TCP/IP domain

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