Five more completely nerdish jargon words you might hear online

  1. like kicking dead whales down the beach: Describes a slow, difficult, and disgusting process. First popularized by a famous quote about the difficulty of getting work done under one of IBM's mainframe Operating Systems. "Well, you could write a C compiler in COBOL, but it would be like kicking dead whales down the beach."
  2. like nailing jelly to a tree: Used to describe a task thought to be impossible, especially one in which the difficulty arises from poor specification or inherent slipperiness in the problem itself.
  3. cruft: a. An unpleasant substance. The dust that gathers under your bed is cruft. (The Tech Model Railroad Club Dictionary, written circa 1959, correctly noted that attacking this substance with a broom only produces more.) b. Excess; superfluous junk. Especially used of redundant or superseded program code.
  4. spam: To crash a program by overrunning a fixed-size buffer with excessively large input data. In other words, excess noise or unwanted garbage overfilling a system.
  5. bitty box: a. A computer sufficiently small, primitive, or incapable as to cause a hacker acute claustrophobia at the thought of developing software on it. Especially used of small, obsolescent, single-tasking personal machines such as the Atari 800, Osborne, Sinclair, VIC-20, TRS-80, or IBM PC. b. More generally, the opposite of `real computer'.

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Copyright © 1994, 1995, 2004 by Kevin Savetz. The information in this book was collected in 1994-1995 and has not been updated since.