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 Hacker Word of the Day

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Teele
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PostSubject: Re: Hacker Word of the Day   Fri Sep 18, 2009 7:32 am

wizard: n.
1. Transitively, a person who knows how a complex piece of software or hardware works (that is, who groks it); 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 with respect to something only if he or she has specific detailed knowledge of that thing. A good hacker could become a wizard for something given the time to study it.

2. The term ‘wizard’ is also used intransitively of someone who has extremely high-level hacking or problem-solving ability.

3. A person who is permitted to do things forbidden to ordinary people; one who has wheel privileges on a system.

4. A Unix expert, esp. a Unix systems programmer. This usage is well enough established that ‘Unix Wizard’ is a recognized job title at some corporations and to most headhunters.

See guru, lord high fixer. See also deep magic, heavy wizardry, incantation, magic, mutter, rain dance, voodoo programming, wave a dead chicken.

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Song Quote of the Arbitrary Time Period: "I drown in hesitation, my words come crashing down, and all my best creations burning to the ground. The thought of starting over leaves me paralyzed. Tear it out again another one that got away. I wither and render myself helpless; I give in and everything is clear; I breakdown and let the story guide me; I wither and give myself away."
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PostSubject: Re: Hacker Word of the Day   Sun Sep 20, 2009 9:34 pm

glitch: /glich/
[very common; from German ‘glitschig’ slippery, via Yiddish ‘glitshen’, to slide or skid]

1. n. A sudden interruption in electric service, sanity, continuity, or program function. Sometimes recoverable. An interruption in electric service is specifically called a power glitch (also power hit), of grave concern because it usually crashes all the computers. In jargon, though, a hacker who got to the middle of a sentence and then forgot how he or she intended to complete it might say, “Sorry, I just glitched”.

2. vi. To commit a glitch. See gritch.

3. vt. [Stanford] To scroll a display screen, esp. several lines at a time. WAITS terminals used to do this in order to avoid continuous scrolling, which is distracting to the eye.

4. obs. Same as magic cookie, sense 2.

All these uses of glitch derive from the specific technical meaning the term has in the electronic hardware world, where it is now techspeak. A glitch can occur when the inputs of a circuit change, and the outputs change to some random value for some very brief time before they settle down to the correct value. If another circuit inspects the output at just the wrong time, reading the random value, the results can be very wrong and very hard to debug (a glitch is one of many causes of electronic heisenbugs).

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Song Quote of the Arbitrary Time Period: "I drown in hesitation, my words come crashing down, and all my best creations burning to the ground. The thought of starting over leaves me paralyzed. Tear it out again another one that got away. I wither and render myself helpless; I give in and everything is clear; I breakdown and let the story guide me; I wither and give myself away."
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PostSubject: Re: Hacker Word of the Day   Mon Sep 21, 2009 7:11 am

frob: /frob/
1. n. [MIT; very common] The TMRC definition was “FROB = a protruding arm or trunnion”; by metaphoric extension, a frob is any random small thing; an object that you can comfortably hold in one hand; something you can frob (sense 2). See frobnitz.

2. vt. Abbreviated form of frobnicate.

3. [from the MUD world] A command on some MUDs that changes a player's experience level (this can be used to make wizards); also, to request wizard privileges on the ‘professional courtesy’ grounds that one is a wizard elsewhere. The command is actually ‘frobnicate’ but is universally abbreviated to the shorter form.

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Song Quote of the Arbitrary Time Period: "I drown in hesitation, my words come crashing down, and all my best creations burning to the ground. The thought of starting over leaves me paralyzed. Tear it out again another one that got away. I wither and render myself helpless; I give in and everything is clear; I breakdown and let the story guide me; I wither and give myself away."
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PostSubject: Re: Hacker Word of the Day   Tue Sep 22, 2009 7:02 am

magic
1. adj. As yet unexplained, or too complicated to explain; compare automagically and (Arthur C.) Clarke's Third Law: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” “TTY echoing is controlled by a large number of magic bits.” “This routine magically computes the parity of an 8-bit byte in three instructions.”

2. adj. Characteristic of something that works although no one really understands why (this is especially called black magic).

3. n. [Stanford] A feature not generally publicized that allows something otherwise impossible, or a feature formerly in that category but now unveiled.

4. n. The ultimate goal of all engineering & development, elegance in the extreme; from the first corollary to Clarke's Third Law: “Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced”.

Parodies playing on these senses of the term abound; some have made their way into serious documentation, as when a MAGIC directive was described in the Control Card Reference for GCOS c.1978. For more about hackish ‘magic’, see Appendix A. Compare black magic, wizardly, deep magic, heavy wizardry.

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Song Quote of the Arbitrary Time Period: "I drown in hesitation, my words come crashing down, and all my best creations burning to the ground. The thought of starting over leaves me paralyzed. Tear it out again another one that got away. I wither and render myself helpless; I give in and everything is clear; I breakdown and let the story guide me; I wither and give myself away."
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PostSubject: Re: Hacker Word of the Day   Wed Sep 23, 2009 6:41 am

J. Random: /J rand´m/, n.
[common; generalized from J. Random Hacker] Arbitrary; ordinary; any one; any old. ‘J. Random’ is often prefixed to a noun to make a name out of it. It means roughly some particular or any specific one. “Would you let J. Random Loser marry your daughter?” The most common uses are ‘J. Random Hacker’, ‘J. Random Loser’, and ‘J. Random Nerd’ (“Should J. Random Loser be allowed to kill other peoples' processes?”), but it can be used simply as an elaborate version of random in any sense.

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Song Quote of the Arbitrary Time Period: "I drown in hesitation, my words come crashing down, and all my best creations burning to the ground. The thought of starting over leaves me paralyzed. Tear it out again another one that got away. I wither and render myself helpless; I give in and everything is clear; I breakdown and let the story guide me; I wither and give myself away."
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PostSubject: Re: Hacker Word of the Day   Fri Sep 25, 2009 1:34 pm

grok: /grok/, /grohk/, vt.
[common; from the novel Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlein, where it is a Martian word meaning literally ‘to drink’ and metaphorically ‘to be one with’] The emphatic form is grok in fullness.

1. To understand. Connotes intimate and exhaustive knowledge. When you claim to ‘grok’ some knowledge or technique, you are asserting that you have not merely learned it in a detached instrumental way but that it has become part of you, part of your identity. For example, to say that you “know” LISP is simply to assert that you can code in it if necessary — but to say you “grok” LISP is to claim that you have deeply entered the world-view and spirit of the language, with the implication that it has transformed your view of programming. Contrast zen, which is similar supernal understanding experienced as a single brief flash. See also glark.

2. Used of programs, may connote merely sufficient understanding. “Almost all C compilers grok the void type these days.”

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- Teele
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Song Quote of the Arbitrary Time Period: "I drown in hesitation, my words come crashing down, and all my best creations burning to the ground. The thought of starting over leaves me paralyzed. Tear it out again another one that got away. I wither and render myself helpless; I give in and everything is clear; I breakdown and let the story guide me; I wither and give myself away."
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