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The New Hacker's Dictionary

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[4543]bixie. On [4544]Usenet, `smiley' is often used as a generic term synonymous with [4545]emoticon, as well as specifically for the happy-face emoticon.

It appears that the emoticon was invented by one Scott Fahlman on the CMU [4546]bboard systems sometime between early 1981 and mid-1982. He later wrote: "I wish I had saved the original post, or at least recorded the date for posterity, but I had no idea that I was starting something that would soon pollute all the world's communication channels." [GLS confirms that he remembers this original posting].

Note for the [4547]newbie: Overuse of the smiley is a mark of loserhood! More than one per paragraph is a fairly sure sign that you've gone over the line.


Node:EMP, Next:[4548]empire, Previous:[4549]emoticon, Up:[4550]= E =


See [4551]spam.


Node:empire, Next:[4552]engine, Previous:[4553]EMP, Up:[4554]= E =

empire n.

Any of a family of military simulations derived from a game written by Peter Langston many years ago. A number of multi-player variants of varying degrees of sophistication exist, and one single-player version implemented for both Unix and VMS; the latter is even available as MS-DOS freeware. All are notoriously addictive. Of various commercial derivatives the best known is probably "Empire Deluxe" on PCs and Amigas.


Modern empire is a real-time wargame played over the internet by up to 120 players. Typical games last from 24 hours (blitz) to a couple of months (long term). The amount of sleep you can get while playing is a function of the rate at which updates occur and the number of co-rulers of your country. Empire server software is available for unix-like machines, and clients for Unix and other platforms. A comprehensive history of the game is available at [4555]http://www.empire.cx/infopages/History.html. The Empire resource site is at [4556]http://www.empire.cx/.


Node:engine, Next:[4557]English, Previous:[4558]empire, Up:[4559]= E =

engine n.

1. A piece of hardware that encapsulates some function but can't be used without some kind of [4560]front end. Today we have, especially, `print engine': the guts of a laser printer. 2. An analogous piece of software; notionally, one that does a lot of noisy crunching, such as a `database engine'.

The hacker senses of `engine' are actually close to its original, pre-Industrial-Revolution sense of a skill, clever device, or instrument (the word is cognate to `ingenuity'). This sense had not been completely eclipsed by the modern connotation of power-transducing machinery in Charles Babbage's time, which explains why he named the stored-program computer that he designed in 1844 the `Analytical Engine'.


Node:English, Next:[4561]enhancement, Previous:[4562]engine,

Up:[4563]= E =



1. n. obs. The source code for a program, which may be in any language, as opposed to the linkable or executable binary produced from it by a compiler. The idea behind the term is that to a real hacker, a program written in his favorite programming language is at least as readable as English. Usage: mostly by old-time hackers, though recognizable in context. Today the prefereed shorthand is sinply [4564]source. 2. The official name of the database language used by the old Pick Operating System, actually a sort of crufty, brain-damaged SQL with delusions of grandeur. The name permitted [4565]marketroids to say "Yes, and you can program our computers in English!" to ignorant [4566]suits without quite running afoul of the truth-in-advertising laws.


Node:enhancement, Next:[4567]ENQ, Previous:[4568]English, Up:[4569]=

E =

enhancement n.

Common [4570]marketroid-speak for a bug [4571]fix. This abuse of language is a popular and time-tested way to turn incompetence into increased revenue. A hacker being ironic would instead call the fix a [4572]feature -- or perhaps save some effort by declaring the bug itself to be a feature.


Node:ENQ, Next:[4573]EOF, Previous:[4574]enhancement, Up:[4575]= E


ENQ /enkw/ or /enk/

[from the ASCII mnemonic ENQuire for 0000101] An on-line convention for querying someone's availability. After opening a [4576]talk mode connection to someone apparently in heavy hack mode, one might type SYN SYN ENQ? (the SYNs representing notional synchronization bytes),


and expect a return of [4577]ACK or [4578]NAK depending on whether or not the person felt interruptible. Compare [4579]ping, [4580]finger, and the usage of FOO? listed under [4581]talk mode.


Node:EOF, Next:[4582]EOL, Previous:[4583]ENQ, Up:[4584]= E =

EOF /E-O-F/ n.

[abbreviation, `End Of File'] 1. [techspeak] The [4585]out-of-band value returned by C's sequential character-input functions (and their equivalents in other environments) when end of file has been reached. This value is usually -1 under C libraries postdating V6 Unix, but was originally 0. DOS hackers think EOF is ^Z, and a few Amiga hackers think it's ^\. 2. [Unix] The keyboard character (usually control-D, the ASCII EOT (End Of Transmission) character) that is mapped by the terminal driver into an end-of-file condition. 3. Used by extension in non-computer contexts when a human is doing something that can be modeled as a sequential read and can't go further. "Yeah, I looked for a list of 360 mnemonics to post as a joke, but I hit EOF pretty fast; all the library had was a [4586]JCL manual." See also [4587]EOL.


Node:EOL, Next:[4588]EOU, Previous:[4589]EOF, Up:[4590]= E =

EOL /E-O-L/ n.

[End Of Line] Syn. for [4591]newline, derived perhaps from the original CDC6600 Pascal. Now rare, but widely recognized and occasionally used for brevity. Used in the example entry under [4592]BNF. See also [4593]EOF.



Node:EOU, Next:[4594]epoch, Previous:[4595]EOL, Up:[4596]= E =

EOU /E-O-U/ n.

The mnemonic of a mythical ASCII control character (End Of User) that would make an ASR-33 Teletype explode on receipt. This construction parodies the numerous obscure delimiter and control characters left in ASCII from the days when it was associated more with wire-service teletypes than computers (e.g., FS, GS, RS, US, EM, SUB, ETX, and esp. EOT). It is worth remembering that ASR-33s were big, noisy mechanical beasts with a lot of clattering parts; the notion that one might explode was nowhere near as ridiculous as it might seem to someone sitting in front of a [4597]tube or flatscreen today.


Node:epoch, Next:[4598]epsilon, Previous:[4599]EOU, Up:[4600]= E =

epoch n.

[Unix: prob. from astronomical timekeeping] The time and date corresponding to 0 in an operating system's clock and timestamp values. Under most Unix versions the epoch is 00:00:00 GMT, January 1, 1970; under VMS, it's 00:00:00 of November 17, 1858 (base date of the U.S. Naval Observatory's ephemerides); on a Macintosh, it's the midnight beginning January 1 1904. System time is measured in seconds or [4601]ticks past the epoch. Weird problems may ensue when the clock wraps around (see [4602]wrap around), which is not necessarily a rare event; on systems counting 10 ticks per second, a signed 32-bit count of ticks is good only for 6.8 years. The 1-tick-per-second clock of Unix is good only until January 18, 2038, assuming at least some software continues to consider it signed and that word lengths don't increase by then. See also [4603]wall time. Microsoft Windows, on the other hand, has an epoch problem every 49.7 days - but this is seldom noticed as Windows is almost incapable of staying up continuously for that long.



Node:epsilon, Next:[4604]epsilon squared, Previous:[4605]epoch, Up:[4606]= E =


[see [4607]delta] 1. n. A small quantity of anything. "The cost is epsilon." 2. adj. Very small, negligible; less than [4608]marginal. "We can get this feature for epsilon cost." 3. `within epsilon of': close enough to be indistinguishable for all practical purposes, even closer than being `within delta of'. "That's not what I asked for, but it's within epsilon of what I wanted." Alternatively, it may mean not close enough, but very little is required to get it there: "My program is within epsilon of working."


Node:epsilon squared, Next:[4609]era the, Previous:[4610]epsilon, Up:[4611]= E =

epsilon squared n.

A quantity even smaller than [4612]epsilon, as small in comparison to epsilon as epsilon is to something normal; completely negligible. If you buy a supercomputer for a million dollars, the cost of the thousand-dollar terminal to go with it is [4613]epsilon, and the cost of the ten-dollar cable to connect them is epsilon squared. Compare [4614]lost in the underflow, [4615]lost in the noise.


Node:era the, Next:[4616]Eric Conspiracy, Previous:[4617]epsilon squared, Up:[4618]= E =

era n.


Syn. [4619]epoch. Webster's Unabridged makes these words almost synonymous, but `era' more often connotes a span of time rather than a point in time, whereas the reverse is true for [4620]epoch. The [4621]epoch usage is recommended.


Node:Eric Conspiracy, Next:[4622]Eris, Previous:[4623]era the, Up:[4624]= E =

Eric Conspiracy n.

A shadowy group of mustachioed hackers named Eric first pinpointed as a sinister conspiracy by an infamous talk.bizarre posting ca. 1987; this was doubtless influenced by the numerous `Eric' jokes in the Monty Python oeuvre. There do indeed seem to be considerably more mustachioed Erics in hackerdom than the frequency of these three traits can account for unless they are correlated in some arcane way. Well-known examples include Eric Allman (he of the `Allman style' described under [4625]indent style) and Erik Fair (co-author of NNTP); your editor has heard from more than sixty others by email, and the organization line `Eric Conspiracy Secret Laboratories' now emanates regularly from more than one site. See the Eric Conspiracy Web Page at [4626]http://www.ccil.org/~esr/ecsl/ for full details.


Node:Eris, Next:[4627]erotics, Previous:[4628]Eric Conspiracy,

Up:[4629]= E =

Eris /e'ris/ n.

The Greek goddess of Chaos, Discord, Confusion, and Things You Know Not Of; her name was latinized to Discordia and she was worshiped by that name in Rome. Not a very friendly deity in the Classical original, she was reinvented as a more benign personification of creative anarchy starting in


1959 by the adherents of [4630]Discordianism and has since been a semi-serious subject of veneration in several `fringe' cultures, including hackerdom. See [4631]Discordianism, [4632]Church of the SubGenius.


Node:erotics, Next:[4633]error 33, Previous:[4634]Eris, Up:[4635]= E =

erotics /ee-ro'tiks/ n.

[Helsinki University of Technology, Finland] n. English-language university slang for electronics. Often used by hackers in Helsinki, maybe because good electronics excites them and makes them warm.


Node:error 33, Next:[4636]eurodemo, Previous:[4637]erotics, Up:[4638]=

E =

error 33 [XEROX PARC] n.

1. Predicating one research effort upon the success of another. 2. Allowing your own research effort to be placed on the critical path of some other project (be it a research effort or not).


Node:eurodemo, Next:[4639]evil, Previous:[4640]error 33, Up:[4641]= E =

eurodemo /yoor'o-dem`-o/

a [4642]demo, sense 4



Node:evil, Next:[4643]evil and rude, Previous:[4644]eurodemo, Up:[4645]= E =

evil adj.

As used by hackers, implies that some system, program, person, or institution is sufficiently maldesigned as to be not worth the bother of dealing with. Unlike the adjectives in the [4646]cretinous/[4647]losing/[4648]brain-damaged series, `evil' does not imply incompetence or bad design, but rather a set of goals or design criteria fatally incompatible with the speaker's. This usage is more an esthetic and engineering judgment than a moral one in the mainstream sense. "We thought about adding a [4649]Blue Glue interface but decided it was too evil to deal with." "[4650]TECO is neat, but it can be pretty evil if you're prone to typos." Often pronounced with the first syllable lengthened, as /eeee'vil/. Compare [4651]evil and rude.


Node:evil and rude, Next:[4652]Evil Empire, Previous:[4653]evil, Up:[4654]= E =

evil and rude adj.

Both [4655]evil and [4656]rude, but with the additional connotation that the rudeness was due to malice rather than incompetence. Thus, for example: Microsoft's Windows NT is evil because it's a competent implementation of a bad design; it's rude because it's gratuitously incompatible with Unix in places where compatibility would have been as easy and effective to do; but it's evil and rude because the incompatibilities are apparently there not to fix design bugs in Unix but rather to lock hapless customers and developers into the Microsoft way. Hackish evil and rude is close to the mainstream sense of `evil'.



Node:Evil Empire, Next:[4657]exa-, Previous:[4658]evil and rude, Up:[4659]= E =

Evil Empire n.

[from Ronald Reagan's famous characterization of the communist Soviet Union] Formerly [4660]IBM, now [4661]Microsoft. Functionally, the company most hackers love to hate at any given time. Hackers like to see themselves as romantic rebels against the Evil Empire, and frequently adopt this role to the point of ascribing rather more power and malice to the Empire than it actually has. See also [4662]Borg and search for [4663]Evil Empire pages on the Web.


Node:exa-, Next:[4664]examining the entrails, Previous:[4665]Evil Empire, Up:[4666]= E =

exa- /ek's*/ pref.

[SI] See [4667]quantifiers.


Node:examining the entrails, Next:[4668]EXCH, Previous:[4669]exa-, Up:[4670]= E =

examining the entrails n.

The process of [4671]grovelling through a [4672]core dump or hex image in an attempt to discover the bug that brought a program or system down. The reference is to divination from the entrails of a sacrified animal.

Compare [4673]runes, [4674]incantation, [4675]black art, [4676]desk check.


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