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The New Hacker's Dictionary

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Node:lithium lick, Next:[8046]little-endian, Previous:[8047]list-bomb, Up:[8048]= L =

lithium lick n.

[NeXT] Steve Jobs. Employees who have gotten too much attention from their esteemed founder are said to have `lithium lick' when they begin to show signs of Jobsian fervor and repeat the most recent catch phrases in normal conversation -- for example, "It just works, right out of the box!"


Node:little-endian, Next:[8049]live, Previous:[8050]lithium lick, Up:[8051]= L =

little-endian adj.

Describes a computer architecture in which, within a given 16or 32-bit word, bytes at lower addresses have lower significance (the word is stored `little-end-first'). The PDP-11 and VAX families of computers and Intel microprocessors and a lot of communications and networking hardware are little-endian. See [8052]big-endian, [8053]middle-endian, [8054]NUXI problem. The term is sometimes used to describe the ordering of units other than bytes; most often, bits within a byte.


Node:live, Next:[8055]live data, Previous:[8056]little-endian, Up:[8057]= L =

live /li:v/ adj.,adv.

[common] Opposite of `test'. Refers to actual real-world data or a program working with it. For example, the response to "I think the record deleter is finished" might be "Is it live yet?" or "Have you tried it out on live data?"

This usage usually carries the connotation that live data is more fragile and


must not be corrupted, or bad things will happen. So a more appropriate response might be: "Well, make sure it works perfectly before we throw live data at it." The implication here is that record deletion is something pretty significant, and a haywire record-deleter running amok live would probably cause great harm.


Node:live data, Next:[8058]Live Free Or Die!, Previous:[8059]live, Up:[8060]= L =

live data n.

1. Data that is written to be interpreted and takes over program flow when triggered by some un-obvious operation, such as viewing it. One use of such hacks is to break security. For example, some smart terminals have commands that allow one to download strings to program keys; this can be used to write live data that, when listed to the terminal, infects it with a security-breaking [8061]virus that is triggered the next time a hapless user strikes that key. For another, there are some well-known bugs in [8062]vi that allow certain texts to send arbitrary commands back to the machine when they are simply viewed. 2. In C code, data that includes pointers to function [8063]hooks (executable code). 3. An object, such as a [8064]trampoline, that is constructed on the fly by a program and intended to be executed as code.


Node:Live Free Or Die!, Next:[8065]livelock, Previous:[8066]live data, Up:[8067]= L =

Live Free Or Die! imp.

1. The state motto of New Hampshire, which appears on that state's automobile license plates. 2. A slogan associated with Unix in the romantic days when Unix aficionados saw themselves as a tiny, beleaguered


underground tilting against the windmills of industry. The "free" referred specifically to freedom from the [8068]fascist design philosophies and crufty misfeatures common on competing operating systems. Armando Stettner, one of the early Unix developers, used to give out fake license plates bearing this motto under a large Unix, all in New Hampshire colors of green and white. These are now valued collector's items. In 1994 [8069]DEC put an inferior imitation of these in circulation with a red corporate logo added. Compaq (half of which was once DEC) has continued the practice.


Node:livelock, Next:[8070]liveware, Previous:[8071]Live Free Or Die!,

Up:[8072]= L =

livelock /li:v'lok/ n.

A situation in which some critical stage of a task is unable to finish because its clients perpetually create more work for it to do after they have been serviced but before it can clear its queue. Differs from [8073]deadlock in that the process is not blocked or waiting for anything, but has a virtually infinite amount of work to do and can never catch up.


Node:liveware, Next:[8074]lobotomy, Previous:[8075]livelock,

Up:[8076]= L =

liveware /li:v'weir/ n.

1. Synonym for [8077]wetware. Less common. 2. [Cambridge] Vermin. "Waiter, there's some liveware in my salad..."



Node:lobotomy, Next:[8078]locals the, Previous:[8079]liveware, Up:[8080]= L =

lobotomy n.

1. What a hacker subjected to formal management training is said to have undergone. At IBM and elsewhere this term is used by both hackers and low-level management; the latter doubtless intend it as a joke. 2. The act of removing the processor from a microcomputer in order to replace or upgrade it. Some very cheap [8081]clone systems are sold in `lobotomized' form -- everything but the brain.


Node:locals the, Next:[8082]locked and loaded, Previous:[8083]lobotomy, Up:[8084]= L =

locals, the pl.n.

The users on one's local network (as opposed, say, to people one reaches via public Internet or UUCP connects). The marked thing about this usage is how little it has to do with real-space distance. "I have to do some tweaking on this mail utility before releasing it to the locals."


Node:locked and loaded, Next:[8085]locked up, Previous:[8086]locals the, Up:[8087]= L =

locked and loaded adj.,obs.

[from military slang for an M-16 rifle with magazine inserted and prepared for firing] Said of a removable disk volume properly prepared for use -- that is, locked into the drive and with the heads loaded. Ironically, because their heads are `loaded' whenever the power is up, this description is never used of [8088]Winchester drives (which are named after a rifle).



Node:locked up, Next:[8089]logic bomb, Previous:[8090]locked and loaded, Up:[8091]= L =

locked up adj.

Syn. for [8092]hung, [8093]wedged.


Node:logic bomb, Next:[8094]logical, Previous:[8095]locked up, Up:[8096]= L =

logic bomb n.

Code surreptitiously inserted into an application or OS that causes it to perform some destructive or security-compromising activity whenever specified conditions are met. Compare [8097]back door.


Node:logical, Next:[8098]loop through, Previous:[8099]logic bomb, Up:[8100]= L =

logical adj.

[from the technical term `logical device', wherein a physical device is referred to by an arbitrary `logical' name] Having the role of. If a person (say, Les Earnest at SAIL) who had long held a certain post left and were replaced, the replacement would for a while be known as the `logical' Les Earnest. (This does not imply any judgment on the replacement.) Compare [8101]virtual.

At Stanford, `logical' compass directions denote a coordinate system in which `logical north' is toward San Francisco, `logical west' is toward the


ocean, etc., even though logical north varies between physical (true) north near San Francisco and physical west near San Jose. (The best rule of thumb here is that, by definition, El Camino Real always runs logical north-and-south.) In giving directions, one might say: "To get to Rincon Tarasco restaurant, get onto [8102]El Camino Bignum going logical north." Using the word `logical' helps to prevent the recipient from worrying about that the fact that the sun is setting almost directly in front of him. The concept is reinforced by North American highways which are almost, but not quite, consistently labeled with logical rather than physical directions. A similar situation exists at MIT: Route 128 (famous for the electronics industry that has grown up along it) is a 3-quarters circle surrounding Boston at a radius of 10 miles, terminating near the coastline at each end. It would be most precise to describe the two directions along this highway as `clockwise' and `counterclockwise', but the road signs all say "north" and "south", respectively. A hacker might describe these directions as `logical north' and `logical south', to indicate that they are conventional directions not corresponding to the usual denotation for those words. (If you went logical south along the entire length of route 128, you would start out going northwest, curve around to the south, and finish headed due east, passing along one infamous stretch of pavement that is simultaneously route 128 south and Interstate 93 north, and is signed as such!)


Node:loop through, Next:[8103]loose bytes, Previous:[8104]logical, Up:[8105]= L =

loop through vt.

To process each element of a list of things. "Hold on, I've got to loop through my paper mail." Derives from the computer-language notion of an iterative loop; compare `cdr down' (under [8106]cdr), which is less common among C and Unix programmers. ITS hackers used to say `IRP over' after an obscure pseudo-op in the MIDAS PDP-10 assembler (the same IRP op can nowadays be found in Microsoft's assembler).



Node:loose bytes, Next:[8107]lord high fixer, Previous:[8108]loop through, Up:[8109]= L =

loose bytes n.

Commonwealth hackish term for the padding bytes or [8110]shims many compilers insert between members of a record or structure to cope with alignment requirements imposed by the machine architecture.


Node:lord high fixer, Next:[8111]lose, Previous:[8112]loose bytes, Up:[8113]= L =

lord high fixer n.

[primarily British, from Gilbert & Sullivan's `lord high executioner'] The person in an organization who knows the most about some aspect of a system. See [8114]wizard.


Node:lose, Next:[8115]lose lose, Previous:[8116]lord high fixer, Up:[8117]= L =

lose vi.

1. [very common] To fail. A program loses when it encounters an exceptional condition or fails to work in the expected manner. 2. To be exceptionally unesthetic or crocky. 3. Of people, to be obnoxious or unusually stupid (as opposed to ignorant). See also [8118]deserves to lose. 4. n. Refers to something that is [8119]losing, especially in the phrases "That's a lose!" and "What a lose!"



Node:lose lose, Next:[8120]loser, Previous:[8121]lose, Up:[8122]= L =

lose lose interj.

A reply to or comment on an undesirable situation. "I accidentally deleted all my files!" "Lose, lose."


Node:loser, Next:[8123]losing, Previous:[8124]lose lose, Up:[8125]= L =

loser n.

An unexpectedly bad situation, program, programmer, or person. Someone who habitually loses. (Even winners can lose occasionally.) Someone who knows not and knows not that he knows not. Emphatic forms are `real loser', `total loser', and `complete loser' (but not **`moby loser', which would be a contradiction in terms). See [8126]luser.


Node:losing, Next:[8127]loss, Previous:[8128]loser, Up:[8129]= L =

losing adj.

Said of anything that is or causes a [8130]lose or [8131]lossage. "The compiler is losing badly when I try to use templates."


Node:loss, Next:[8132]lossage, Previous:[8133]losing, Up:[8134]= L =

loss n.


Something (not a person) that loses; a situation in which something is losing. Emphatic forms include `moby loss', and `total loss', `complete loss'. Common interjections are "What a loss!" and "What a moby loss!" Note that `moby loss' is OK even though **`moby loser' is not used; applied to an abstract noun, moby is simply a magnifier, whereas when applied to a person it implies substance and has positive connotations. Compare [8135]lossage.


Node:lossage, Next:[8136]lost in the noise, Previous:[8137]loss, Up:[8138]= L =

lossage /los'*j/ n.

[very common] The result of a bug or malfunction. This is a mass or collective noun. "What a loss!" and "What lossage!" are nearly synonymous. The former is slightly more particular to the speaker's present circumstances; the latter implies a continuing [8139]lose of which the speaker is currently a victim. Thus (for example) a temporary hardware failure is a loss, but bugs in an important tool (like a compiler) are serious lossage.


Node:lost in the noise, Next:[8140]lost in the underflow,

Previous:[8141]lossage, Up:[8142]= L =

lost in the noise adj.

Syn. [8143]lost in the underflow. This term is from signal processing, where signals of very small amplitude cannot be separated from low-intensity noise in the system. Though popular among hackers, it is not confined to hackerdom; physicists, engineers, astronomers, and statisticians all use it.



Node:lost in the underflow, Next:[8144]lots of MIPS but no I/O, Previous:[8145]lost in the noise, Up:[8146]= L =

lost in the underflow adj.

Too small to be worth considering; more specifically, small beyond the limits of accuracy or measurement. This is a reference to `floating underflow', a condition that can occur when a floating-point arithmetic processor tries to handle quantities smaller than its limit of magnitude. It is also a pun on `undertow' (a kind of fast, cold current that sometimes runs just offshore and can be dangerous to swimmers). "Well, sure, photon pressure from the stadium lights alters the path of a thrown baseball, but that effect gets lost in the underflow." Compare [8147]epsilon, [8148]epsilon squared; see also [8149]overflow bit.


Node:lots of MIPS but no I/O, Next:[8150]low-bandwidth, Previous:[8151]lost in the underflow, Up:[8152]= L =

lots of MIPS but no I/O adj.

Used to describe a person who is technically brilliant but can't seem to communicate with human beings effectively. Technically it describes a machine that has lots of processing power but is bottlenecked on input-output (in 1991, the IBM Rios, a.k.a. RS/6000, was a notorious example).


Node:low-bandwidth, Next:[8153]LPT, Previous:[8154]lots of MIPS but no I/O, Up:[8155]= L =

low-bandwidth adj.

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