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The New Hacker's Dictionary

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Concentrating, usually so heavily and for so long that everything outside the focus area is missed. See also [6725]hack mode and [6726]larval stage, although this mode is hardly confined to fledgling hackers.

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Node:heartbeat, Next:[6727]heatseeker, Previous:[6728]heads down, Up:[6729]= H =

heartbeat n.

1. The signal emitted by a Level 2 Ethernet transceiver at the end of every packet to show that the collision-detection circuit is still connected. 2. A periodic synchronization signal used by software or hardware, such as a bus clock or a periodic interrupt. 3. The `natural' oscillation frequency of a computer's clock crystal, before frequency division down to the machine's clock rate. 4. A signal emitted at regular intervals by software to demonstrate that it is still alive. Sometimes hardware is designed to reboot the machine if it stops hearing a heartbeat. See also [6730]breath-of-life packet.

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Node:heatseeker, Next:[6731]heavy metal, Previous:[6732]heartbeat, Up:[6733]= H =

heatseeker n.

[IBM] A customer who can be relied upon to buy, without fail, the latest version of an existing product (not quite the same as a member of the [6734]lunatic fringe). A 1993 example of a heatseeker was someone who, owning a 286 PC and Windows 3.0, went out and bought Windows 3.1 (which offers no worthwhile benefits unless you have a 386). If all customers were heatseekers, vast amounts of money could be made by just fixing some of the bugs in each release (n) and selling it to them as release (n+1). Microsoft in fact seems to have mastered this technique.

562

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Node:heavy metal, Next:[6735]heavy wizardry, Previous:[6736]heatseeker, Up:[6737]= H =

heavy metal n.

[Cambridge] Syn. [6738]big iron.

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Node:heavy wizardry, Next:[6739]heavyweight, Previous:[6740]heavy metal, Up:[6741]= H =

heavy wizardry n.

Code or designs that trade on a particularly intimate knowledge or experience of a particular operating system or language or complex application interface. Distinguished from [6742]deep magic, which trades more on arcane theoretical knowledge. Writing device drivers is heavy wizardry; so is interfacing to [6743]X (sense 2) without a toolkit. Esp. found in source-code comments of the form "Heavy wizardry begins here". Compare [6744]voodoo programming.

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Node:heavyweight, Next:[6745]heisenbug, Previous:[6746]heavy wizardry, Up:[6747]= H =

heavyweight adj.

[common] High-overhead; [6748]baroque; code-intensive; featureful, but costly. Esp. used of communication protocols, language designs, and any sort of implementation in which maximum generality and/or ease of implementation has been pushed at the expense of mundane considerations such as speed, memory utilization, and startup time. [6749]EMACS is a

563

heavyweight editor; [6750]X is an extremely heavyweight window system. This term isn't pejorative, but one hacker's heavyweight is another's [6751]elephantine and a third's [6752]monstrosity. Oppose `lightweight'. Usage: now borders on techspeak, especially in the compound `heavyweight process'.

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Node:heisenbug, Next:[6753]Helen Keller mode,

Previous:[6754]heavyweight, Up:[6755]= H =

heisenbug /hi:'zen-buhg/ n.

[from Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle in quantum physics] A bug that disappears or alters its behavior when one attempts to probe or isolate it. (This usage is not even particularly fanciful; the use of a debugger sometimes alters a program's operating environment significantly enough that buggy code, such as that which relies on the values of uninitialized memory, behaves quite differently.) Antonym of [6756]Bohr bug; see also [6757]mandelbug, [6758]schroedinbug. In C, nine out of ten heisenbugs result from uninitialized auto variables, [6759]fandango on core phenomena (esp. lossage related to corruption of the malloc [6760]arena) or errors that [6761]smash the stack.

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Node:Helen Keller mode, Next:[6762]hello sailor!,

Previous:[6763]heisenbug, Up:[6764]= H =

Helen Keller mode n.

1. State of a hardware or software system that is deaf, dumb, and blind, i.e., accepting no input and generating no output, usually due to an infinite loop or some other excursion into [6765]deep space. (Unfair to the real Helen Keller, whose success at learning speech was triumphant.) See also [6766]go flatline, [6767]catatonic. 2. On IBM PCs under DOS, refers to a

564

specific failure mode in which a screen saver has kicked in over an [6768]ill-behaved application which bypasses the very interrupts the screen saver watches for activity. Your choices are to try to get from the program's current state through a successful save-and-exit without being able to see what you're doing, or to re-boot the machine. This isn't (strictly speaking) a crash.

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Node:hello sailor!, Next:[6769]hello wall!, Previous:[6770]Helen Keller mode, Up:[6771]= H =

hello sailor! interj.

Occasional West Coast equivalent of [6772]hello world; seems to have originated at SAIL, later associated with the game [6773]Zork (which also included "hello, aviator" and "hello, implementor"). Originally from the traditional hooker's greeting to a swabbie fresh off the boat, of course. The standard response is "Nothing happens here."; of all the Zork/Dungeon games, only in Infocom's Zork 3 is "Hello, Sailor" actually useful (excluding the unique situation where ---knowing--- this fact is important in Dungeon...).

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Node:hello wall!, Next:[6774]hello world, Previous:[6775]hello sailor!, Up:[6776]= H =

hello, wall! excl.

See [6777]wall.

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Node:hello world, Next:[6778]hex, Previous:[6779]hello wall!, Up:[6780]= H =

565

hello world interj.

1. The canonical minimal test message in the C/Unix universe. 2. Any of the minimal programs that emit this message. Traditionally, the first program a C coder is supposed to write in a new environment is one that just prints "hello, world" to standard output (and indeed it is the first example program in [6781]K&R). Environments that generate an unreasonably large executable for this trivial test or which require a [6782]hairy compiler-linker invocation to generate it are considered to [6783]lose (see [6784]X). 3. Greeting uttered by a hacker making an entrance or requesting information from anyone present. "Hello, world! Is the LAN back up yet?"

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Node:hex, Next:[6785]hexadecimal, Previous:[6786]hello world, Up:[6787]= H =

hex n.

1. Short for [6788]hexadecimal, base 16. 2. A 6-pack of anything (compare [6789]quad, sense 2). Neither usage has anything to do with [6790]magic or [6791]black art, though the pun is appreciated and occasionally used by hackers. True story: As a joke, some hackers once offered some surplus ICs for sale to be worn as protective amulets against hostile magic. The chips were, of course, hex inverters.

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Node:hexadecimal, Next:[6792]hexit, Previous:[6793]hex, Up:[6794]= H =

hexadecimal n.

Base 16. Coined in the early 1960s to replace earlier `sexadecimal', which was too racy and amusing for stuffy IBM, and later adopted by the rest of the industry.

566

Actually, neither term is etymologically pure. If we take `binary' to be paradigmatic, the most etymologically correct term for base 10, for example, is `denary', which comes from `deni' (ten at a time, ten each), a Latin `distributive' number; the corresponding term for base-16 would be something like `sendenary'. `Decimal' is from an ordinal number; the corresponding prefix for 6 would imply something like `sextidecimal'. The `sexa-' prefix is Latin but incorrect in this context, and `hexa-' is Greek. The word `octal' is similarly incorrect; a correct form would be `octaval' (to go with decimal), or `octonary' (to go with binary). If anyone ever implements a base-3 computer, computer scientists will be faced with the unprecedented dilemma of a choice between two correct forms; both `ternary' and `trinary' have a claim to this throne.

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Node:hexit, Next:[6795]HHOK, Previous:[6796]hexadecimal, Up:[6797]=

H =

hexit /hek'sit/ n.

A hexadecimal digit (0-9, and A-F or a-f). Used by people who claim that there are only ten digits, dammit; sixteen-fingered human beings are rather rare, despite what some keyboard designs might seem to imply (see [6798]space-cadet keyboard).

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Node:HHOK, Next:[6799]HHOS, Previous:[6800]hexit, Up:[6801]= H =

HHOK

See [6802]ha ha only serious.

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567

Node:HHOS, Next:[6803]hidden flag, Previous:[6804]HHOK, Up:[6805]= H =

HHOS

See [6806]ha ha only serious.

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Node:hidden flag, Next:[6807]high bit, Previous:[6808]HHOS, Up:[6809]= H =

hidden flag n.

[scientific computation] An extra option added to a routine without changing the calling sequence. For example, instead of adding an explicit input variable to instruct a routine to give extra diagnostic output, the programmer might just add a test for some otherwise meaningless feature of the existing inputs, such as a negative mass. The use of hidden flags can make a program very hard to debug and understand, but is all too common wherever programs are hacked on in a hurry.

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Node:high bit, Next:[6810]high moby, Previous:[6811]hidden flag, Up:[6812]= H =

high bit n.

[from `high-order bit'] 1. The most significant bit in a byte. 2. [common] By extension, the most significant part of something other than a data byte: "Spare me the whole [6813]saga, just give me the high bit." See also [6814]meta bit, [6815]hobbit, [6816]dread high-bit disease, and compare the mainstream slang `bottom line'.

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Node:high moby, Next:[6817]highly, Previous:[6818]high bit, Up:[6819]= H =

high moby /hi:' mohb'ee/ n.

The high half of a 512K [6820]PDP-10's physical address space; the other half was of course the low moby. This usage has been generalized in a way that has outlasted the [6821]PDP-10; for example, at the 1990 Washington D.C. Area Science Fiction Conclave (Disclave), when a miscommunication resulted in two separate wakes being held in commemoration of the shutdown of MIT's last [6822]ITS machines, the one on the upper floor was dubbed the `high moby' and the other the `low moby'. All parties involved [6823]grokked this instantly. See [6824]moby.

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Node:highly, Next:[6825]hing, Previous:[6826]high moby, Up:[6827]= H =

highly adv.

[scientific computation] The preferred modifier for overstating an understatement. As in: `highly nonoptimal', the worst possible way to do something; `highly nontrivial', either impossible or requiring a major research project; `highly nonlinear', completely erratic and unpredictable; `highly nontechnical', drivel written for [6828]lusers, oversimplified to the point of being misleading or incorrect (compare [6829]drool-proof paper). In other computing cultures, postfixing of [6830]in the extreme might be preferred.

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Node:hing, Next:[6831]hired gun, Previous:[6832]highly, Up:[6833]= H =

hing // n.

569

[IRC] Fortuitous typo for `hint', now in wide intentional use among players of [6834]initgame. Compare [6835]newsfroup, [6836]filk.

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Node:hired gun, Next:[6837]hirsute, Previous:[6838]hing, Up:[6839]= H =

hired gun n.

A contract programmer, as opposed to a full-time staff member. All the connotations of this term suggested by innumerable spaghetti Westerns are intentional.

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Node:hirsute, Next:[6840]HLL, Previous:[6841]hired gun, Up:[6842]= H =

hirsute adj.

Occasionally used humorously as a synonym for [6843]hairy.

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Node:HLL, Next:[6844]hoarding, Previous:[6845]hirsute, Up:[6846]= H =

HLL /H-L-L/ n.

[High-Level Language (as opposed to assembler)] Found primarily in email and news rather than speech. Rarely, the variants `VHLL' and `MLL' are found. VHLL stands for `Very-High-Level Language' and is used to describe a [6847]bondage-and-discipline language that the speaker happens to like; Prolog and Backus's FP are often called VHLLs. `MLL' stands for `Medium-Level Language' and is sometimes used half-jokingly to describe [6848]C, alluding to its `structured-assembler' image. See also [6849]languages of choice.

570

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Node:hoarding, Next:[6850]hobbit, Previous:[6851]HLL, Up:[6852]= H =

hoarding n.

See [6853]software hoarding.

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Node:hobbit, Next:[6854]hog, Previous:[6855]hoarding, Up:[6856]= H =

hobbit n.

1. [rare] The High Order BIT of a byte; same as the [6857]meta bit or [6858]high bit. 2. The non-ITS name of [6859]vad@ai.mit.edu (*Hobbit*), master of lasers.

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Node:hog, Next:[6860]hole, Previous:[6861]hobbit, Up:[6862]= H =

hog n.,vt.

1. Favored term to describe programs or hardware that seem to eat far more than their share of a system's resources, esp. those which noticeably degrade interactive response. Not used of programs that are simply extremely large or complex or that are merely painfully slow themselves. More often than not encountered in qualified forms, e.g., `memory hog', `core hog', `hog the processor', `hog the disk'. "A controller that never gives up the I/O bus gets killed after the bus-hog timer expires." 2. Also said of people who use more than their fair share of resources (particularly disk, where it seems that 10% of the people use 90% of the disk, no matter how big the disk is or how many people use it). Of course, once disk hogs fill up one filesystem, they typically find some other new one to infect, claiming to the sysadmin that they have an important new project to complete.

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