Computer Jargon

Space Kid

Brush up on your geek speak. These are excerpts from Jargon 2.9.12.

angry fruit salad n. A bad visual-interface design that uses too many colors. (This term derives, of course, from the bizarre day-glo colors found in canned fruit salad.) Too often one sees similar effects from interface designers using color window systems such as X; there is a tendency to create displays that are flashy and attention-getting but uncomfortable for long-term use.

banana problem n. [from the story of the little girl who said “I know how to spell ‘banana,’ but I don’t know when to stop.”] Not knowing where or when to bring a production to a close (compare fencepost error). One may say “there is a banana problem” of an algorithm with poorly defined or incorrect termination conditions, or in discussing the evolution of a design that may be succumbing to featuritis (see also creeping elegance, creeping featuritis).

Big Room, the n. The extremely large room with the blue ceiling and intensely bright light (during the day) or black ceiling with lots of tiny night-lights (during the night) found outside all computer installations. “He can’t come to the phone right now; he’s somewhere out in the Big Room.”

bit rot n. Also bit decay. Hypothetical disease the existence of which has been deduced from the observation that unused programs or features will often stop working after sufficient time has passed, even if “nothing has changed.” The theory explains that bits decay as if they were radioactive. As time passes, the contents of a file or the code in a program will become increasingly garbled.

blinkenlights /blink’*n-li:tz/ n. Front-panel diagnostic lights on a computer, esp. a dinosaur. Derives from the last word of the famous blackletter-Gothic sign in mangled pseudo-German that once graced about half the computer rooms in the English-speaking world. One version ran in its entirety as follows:

ACHTUNG! ALLES LOOKENSPEEPERS! Das computermachine ist nicht fuer gefingerpoken und mittengrabben. Ist easy schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und poppencorken mit spitzensparken. Ist nicht fuer gewerken bei das dumpkopfen. Das rubbernecken sichtseeren keepen das cotten-pickenen hans in das pockets muss; relaxen und watchen das blinkenlichten.

This silliness dates back at least as far as 1959 at Stanford University and had already gone international by the early 1960s, when it was reported at London University’s ATLAS computing site. There are several variants of it in circulation, some of which actually do end with the word “blinkenlight.”

In an amusing example of turnabout-is-fair-play, German hackers have developed their own versions of the blinkenlights poster in fractured English, one of which is reproduced here:

ATTENTION This room is fullfilled mit special electronische equippment. Fingergrabbing and pressing the cnoeppkes from the computers is allowed for die experts only! So all the “lefthanders” stay away and do not disturben the brainstorming von here working intelligencies. Otherwise you will be out thrown and kicked anderswhere! Also: please keep still and only watchen astaunished the blinkenlights.

brochureware n. Planned but non-existent product like vaporware, but with the added implication that marketing is actively selling and promoting it (they’ve printed brochures). Brochureware is often deployed as a strategic weapon; the idea is to con customers into not committing to an existing product of the competition’s. It is a safe bet that when a brochureware product finally becomes real, it will be more expensive than and inferior to the alternatives that had been available for years.

busy-wait vi. Used of human behavior, conveys that the subject is busy waiting for someone or something, intends to move instantly as soon as it shows up, and thus cannot do anything else at the moment. “Can’t talk now, I’m busy-waiting till Bill gets off the phone.”

crawling horror n. Ancient crufty hardware or software that is kept obstinately alive by forces beyond the control of the hackers at a site. Like dusty deck or gonkulator, but connotes that the thing described is not just an irritation but an active menace to health and sanity. “Mostly we code new stuff in C, but they pay us to maintain one big FORTRAN II application from nineteen-sixty-X that’s a real crawling horror….”

creationism n. The (false) belief that large, innovative software designs can be completely specified in advance and then painlessly magicked out of the void by the normal efforts of a team of normally talented programmers. In fact, experience has shown repeatedly that good designs arise only from evolutionary, exploratory interaction between one (or at most a small handful of) exceptionally able designer(s) and an active user population — and that the first try at a big new idea is always wrong. Unfortunately, because these truths don’t fit the planning models beloved of management, they are generally ignored.

cruft /kruhft/ [back-formation from crufty] 1. n. An unpleasant substance. The dust that gathers under your bed is cruft; the TMRC Dictionary correctly noted that attacking it with a broom only produces more. 2. n. The results of shoddy construction. 3. vt. [from “hand cruft,” pun on “hand craft”] To write assembler code for something normally (and better) done by a compiler (see hand-hacking). 4. n. Excess; superfluous junk; used esp. of redundant or superseded code.

This term is one of the oldest in the jargon and no one is sure of its etymology, but it is suggestive that there is a Cruft Hall at Harvard University which is part of the old physics building; it’s said to have been the physics department’s radar lab during WWII. To this day (early 1993) the windows appear to be full of random techno-junk. MIT or Lincoln Labs people may well have coined the term as a knock on the competition.

drool-proof paper n. Documentation that has been obsessively dumbed down, to the point where only a cretin could bear to read it, is said to have succumbed to the ‘drool-proof paper syndrome’ or to have been ‘written on drool-proof paper’. For example, this is an actual quote from Apple’s LaserWriter manual: “Do not expose your LaserWriter to open fire or flame.”

external memory n. A memo pad or written notes. “Hold on while I write that to external memory.” The analogy is with store or DRAM versus nonvolatile disk storage on computers.

face time n. Time spent interacting with somebody face-to-face (as opposed to via electronic links). “Oh, yeah, I spent some face time with him at the last Usenix.”

feature shock [from Alvin Toffler's book title “Future Shock”] n. A user’s (or programmer’s!) confusion when confronted with a package that has too many features and poor introductory material.

foo 1. interj. Term of disgust. 2. Used very generally as a sample name for absolutely anything, esp. programs and files (esp. scratch files). 3. First on the standard list of metasyntactic variables used in syntax examples. See also bar, baz, qux, quux, corge, grault, garply, waldo, fred, plugh, xyzzy, thud.

The etymology of hackish `foo’ is obscure. When used in connection with `bar’ it is generally traced to the WWII-era Army slang acronym FUBAR (`Fu*ked Up Beyond All Recognition’), later bowdlerized to foobar. (See also FUBAR).

However, the use of the word `foo’ itself has more complicated antecedents, including a long history in comic strips and cartoons. The old “Smokey Stover” comic strips by Bill Holman often included the word `FOO’, in particular on license plates of cars; allegedly, `FOO’ and `BAR’ also occurred in Walt Kelly’s “Pogo” strips. In the 1938 cartoon “The Daffy Doc”, a very early version of Daffy Duck holds up a sign saying “SILENCE IS FOO!”; oddly, this seems to refer to some approving or positive affirmative use of foo. It has been suggested that this might be related to the Chinese word `fu’ (sometimes transliterated `foo’), which can mean “happiness” when spoken with the proper tone (the lion-dog guardians flanking the steps of many Chinese restaurants are properly called “fu dogs”).

Earlier versions of this entry suggested the possibility that hacker usage actually sprang from `FOO, Lampoons and Parody’, the title of a comic book first issued in September 1958, a joint project of Charles and Robert Crumb. Though Robert Crumb (then in his mid-teens) later became one of the most important and influential artists in underground comics, this venture was hardly a success; indeed, the brothers later burned most of the existing copies in disgust. The title FOO was featured in large letters on the front cover. However, very few copies of this comic actually circulated, and students of Crumb’s `oeuvre’ have established that this title was a reference to the earlier Smokey Stover comics.

gonkulator /gon’kyoo-lay-tr/ [from the old “Hogan's Heroes” TV series] n. A pretentious piece of equipment that actually serves no useful purpose. Usually used to describe one’s least favorite piece of computer hardware.

Good Thing n.,adj. Often capitalized; always pronounced as if capitalized. 1. Self-evidently wonderful to anyone in a position to notice: “The Trailblazer’s 19.2Kbaud PEP mode with on-the-fly Lempel-Ziv compression is a Good Thing for sites relaying netnews.” 2. Something that can’t possibly have any ill side-effects and may save considerable grief later: “Removing the self-modifying code from that shared library would be a Good Thing.” 3. When said of software tools or libraries, as in “YACC is a Good Thing,” specifically connotes that the thing has drastically reduced a programmer’s work load.

grind crank n. A mythical accessory to a terminal. A crank on the side of a monitor, which when operated makes a zizzing noise and causes the computer to run faster. Usually one does not refer to a grind crank out loud, but merely makes the appropriate gesture and noise.

Historical note: At least one real machine actually had a grind crank — the R1, a research machine built toward the end of the days of the great vacuum tube computers, in 1959. R1 (also known as ‘The Rice Institute Computer’ (TRIC) and later as ‘The Rice University Computer’ (TRUC)) had a single-step/free-run switch for use when debugging programs. Since single-stepping through a large program was rather tedious, there was also a crank with a cam and gear arrangement that repeatedly pushed the single-step button. This allowed one to ‘crank’ through a lot of code, then slow down to single-step for a bit when you got near the code of interest, poke at some registers using the console typewriter, and then keep on cranking.

guiltware /gilt’weir/ n. 1. A piece of freeware decorated with a message telling one how long and hard the author worked on it and intimating that one is a no-good freeloader if one does not immediately send the poor suffering martyr gobs of money. 2. Shareware that works.

handwave [poss. from gestures characteristic of stage magicians] 1. v. To gloss over a complex point; to distract a listener; to support a (possibly actually valid) point with blatantly faulty logic. 2. n. The act of handwaving. “Boy, what a handwave!” If someone starts a sentence with “Clearly…” or “Obviously…” or “It is self-evident that…”, it is a good bet he is about to handwave (alternatively, use of these constructions in a sarcastic tone before a paraphrase of someone else’s argument suggests that it is a handwave). The theory behind this term is that if you wave your hands at the right moment, the listener may be sufficiently distracted to not notice that what you have said is bogus. Failing that, if a listener does object, you might try to dismiss the objection with a wave of your hand.

The use of this word is often accompanied by gestures: both hands up, palms forward, swinging the hands in a vertical plane pivoting at the elbows and/or shoulders (depending on the magnitude of the handwave); alternatively, holding the forearms in one position while rotating the hands at the wrist to make them flutter. In context, the gestures alone can suffice as a remark; if a speaker makes an outrageously unsupported assumption, you might simply wave your hands in this way, as an accusation, far more eloquent than words could express, that his logic is faulty.

IBM discount n. A price increase. Outside IBM, this derives from the common perception that IBM products are generally overpriced; inside, it is said to spring from a belief that large numbers of IBM employees living in an area cause prices to rise.

let the smoke out v. To fry hardware. See magic smoke for the mythology behind this.

lion food [IBM] n. Middle management or HQ staff (by extension, administrative drones in general). From an old joke about two lions who, escaping from the zoo, split up to increase their chances but agreed to meet after 2 months. When they finally meet, one is skinny and the other overweight. The thin one says: “How did you manage? I ate a human just once and they turned out a small army to chase me — guns, nets, it was terrible. Since then I’ve been reduced to eating mice, insects, even grass.” The fat one replies: “Well, *I* hid near an IBM office and ate a manager a day. And nobody even noticed!”

lunatic fringe [IBM] n. Customers who can be relied upon to accept release 1 versions of software.

magic smoke n. A substance trapped inside IC packages that enables them to function (also called ‘blue smoke’; this is similar to the archaic ‘phlogiston’ hypothesis about combustion). Its existence is demonstrated by what happens when a chip burns up — the magic smoke gets let out, so it doesn’t work any more.

marketroid /mar’k*-troyd/ alt. ‘marketing slime’, ‘marketeer’, ‘mar-ket-ing droid’, ‘marketdroid’. n. A member of a company’s marketing department, esp. one who promises users that the next version of a product will have features that are not actually scheduled for inclusion, are extremely difficult to implement, and/or are in violation of the laws of physics; and/or one who describes existing features (and misfeatures) in ebullient, buzzword-laden adspeak. Derogatory.

maximum Maytag mode What a washing machine or, by extension, any hard disk is in when it’s being used so heavily that it’s shaking like an old Maytag with an unbalanced load. If prolonged for any length of time, can lead to disks becoming walking drives.

megapenny /meg’*-pen`ee/ n. $10,000 (1 cent * 10^6). Used semi-humorously as a unit in comparing computer cost and performance figures.

mess-dos /mes-dos/ n. Derisory term for MS-DOS. Often followed by the ritual banishing “Just say No!” See MS-DOS. Most hackers (even many MS-DOS hackers) loathe MS-DOS for its single-tasking nature, its limits on application size, its nasty primitive interface, and its ties to IBMness. Also ‘mess-loss’, ‘messy-dos’, ‘mess-dog’, ‘mess-dross’, ‘mush-dos’, and various combinations thereof. In Ireland and the U.K. it is even sometimes called ‘Domestos’ after a brand of toilet cleanser.

metasyntactic variable n. A name used in examples and understood to stand for whatever thing is under discussion, or any random member of a class of things under discussion. The word foo is the canonical example. To avoid confusion, hackers never (well, hardly ever) use `foo’ or other words like it as permanent names for anything. In filenames, a common convention is that any filename beginning with a metasyntactic-variable name is a scratch file that may be deleted at any time.

To some extent, the list of one’s preferred metasyntactic variables is a cultural signature. They occur both in series (used for related groups of variables or objects) and as singletons. Here are a few common signatures:

foo, bar, baz, quux, quuux, quuuux…: MIT/Stanford usage, now found everywhere (thanks largely to early versions of this lexicon!). At MIT, baz dropped out of use for a while in the 1970s and ’80s. A common recent mutation of this sequence inserts qux before quux.

foo, bar, thud, grunt: This series was popular at CMU. Other CMU-associated variables include gorp.

foo, bar, fum: This series is reported to be common at XEROX PARC.

fred, barney: See the entry for fred. These tend to be Britishisms.

toto, titi, tata, tutu: Standard series of metasyntactic variables among francophones.

corge, grault, flarp: Popular at Rutgers University and among GOSMACS hackers.

zxc, spqr, wombat: Cambridge University (England).

shme: Berkeley, GeoWorks. Pronounced /shmee/.

foo, bar, zot: Helsinki University of Technology, Finland.

blarg, wibble: New Zealand

Of all these, only `foo’ and `bar’ are universal (and baz nearly so). The compounds foobar and `foobaz’ also enjoy very wide currency.

monty /mon’tee/ [US Geological Survey] n. A program with a ludicrously complex user interface written to perform extremely trivial tasks. An example would be a menu-driven, button clicking, pulldown, pop-up windows program for listing directories. The original monty was an infamous weather-reporting program, Monty the Amazing Weather Man, written at the USGS. Monty had a widget-packed X-window interface with over 200 buttons; and all monty actually *did* was FTP files off the network.

mu /moo/ The correct answer to the classic trick question “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”. Assuming that you have no wife or you have never beaten your wife, the answer “yes” is wrong because it implies that you used to beat your wife and then stopped, but “no” is worse because it suggests that you have one and are still beating her. According to various Discordians and Douglas Hofstadter, the correct answer is usually “mu”, a Japanese word alleged to mean “Your question cannot be answered because it depends on incorrect assumptions”. Hackers tend to be sensitive to logical inadequacies in language, and many have adopted this suggestion with enthusiasm. The word ‘mu’ is actually from Chinese, meaning ‘nothing’; it is used in mainstream Japanese in that sense, but native speakers do not recognize the Discordian question-denying use. It almost certainly derives from overgeneralization of the answer in the following well-known Rinzei Zen teaching riddle:

A monk asked Joshu, “Does a dog have the Buddha nature?” Joshu retorted, “Mu!”

mumblage /muhm’bl*j/ n. The topic of one’s mumbling (see mumble). “All that mumblage” is used like “all that stuff” when it is not quite clear how the subject of discussion works, or like “all that crap” when ‘mumble’ is being used as an implicit replacement for pejoratives.

mumble interj. 1. Said when the correct response is too complicated to enunciate, or the speaker has not thought it out. Often prefaces a longer answer, or indicates a general reluctance to get into a long discussion. “Don’t you think that we could improve LISP performance by using a hybrid reference-count transaction garbage collector, if the cache is big enough and there are some extra cache bits for the microcode to use?” “Well, mumble … I’ll have to think about it.”

mundane [from SF fandom] n. 1. A person who is not in science fiction fandom. 2. A person who is not in the computer industry. In this sense, most often an adjectival modifier as in “in my mundane life….”

non-optimal solution n. (also ‘sub-optimal solution’) An astoundingly stupid way to do something. This term is generally used in deadpan sarcasm, as its impact is greatest when the person speaking looks completely serious.

one-banana problem n. At mainframe shops, where the computers have operators for routine administrivia, the programmers and hardware people tend to look down on the operators and claim that a trained monkey could do their job. It is frequently observed that the incentives that would be offered said monkeys can be used as a scale to describe the difficulty of a task. A one-banana problem is simple; hence, “It’s only a one-banana job at the most; what’s taking them so long?”

At IBM, folklore divides the world into one-, two-, and three-banana problems. Other cultures have different hierarchies and may divide them more finely; at ICL, for example, five grapes (a bunch) equals a banana. Their upper limit for the in-house sysapes is said to be two bananas and three grapes (another source claims it’s three bananas and one grape, but observes “However, this is subject to local variations, cosmic rays and ISO”). At a complication level any higher than that, one asks the manufacturers to send someone around to check things.

phase 1. n. The phase of one’s waking-sleeping schedule with respect to the standard 24-hour cycle. This is a useful concept among people who often work at night and/or according to no fixed schedule. It is not uncommon to change one’s phase by as much as 6 hours per day on a regular basis. “What’s your phase?” “I’ve been getting in about 8 P.M. lately, but I’m going to wrap around to the day schedule by Friday.” A person who is roughly 12 hours out of phase is sometimes said to be in ‘night mode’. (The term ‘day mode’ is also (but less frequently) used, meaning you’re working 9 to 5 (or, more likely, 10 to 6).) The act of altering one’s cycle is called ‘changing phase’; ‘phase shifting’ has also been recently reported from Caltech. 2. ‘change phase the hard way’: To stay awake for a very long time in order to get into a different phase. 3. ‘change phase the easy way’: To stay asleep, etc. However, some claim that either staying awake longer or sleeping longer is easy, and that it is *shortening* your day or night that’s hard. The ‘jet lag’ that afflicts travelers who cross many time-zone boundaries may be attributed to two distinct causes: the strain of travel per se, and the strain of changing phase. Hackers who suddenly find that they must change phase drastically in a short period of time, particularly the hard way, experience something very like jet lag without traveling.

psyton /si:’ton/ [TMRC] n. The elementary particle carrying the sinister force. The probability of a process losing is proportional to the number of psytons falling on it. Psytons are generated by observers, which is why demos are more likely to fail when lots of people are watching.

rain dance n. 1. Any ceremonial action taken to correct a hardware problem, with the expectation that nothing will be accomplished. This especially applies to reseating printed circuit boards, reconnecting cables, etc. “I can’t boot up the machine. We’ll have to wait for Greg to do his rain dance.” 2. Any arcane sequence of actions performed with computers or software in order to achieve some goal; the term is usually restricted to rituals that include both an incantation or two and physical activity or motion.

return from the dead v. To regain access to the net after a long absence.

sagan /say’gn/ [from Carl Sagan’s TV series “Cosmos”; think “billions and billions”] n. A large quantity of anything. “There’s a sagan different ways to tweak EMACS.” “The U.S. Government spends sagans on bombs and welfare — hard to say which is more destructive.”

salescritter /sayls’kri`tr/ n. Pejorative hackerism for a computer salesperson. Hackers tell the following joke: Q. What’s the difference between a used-car dealer and a computer salesman? A. The used-car dealer knows he’s lying. [Some versions add: ...and probably knows how to drive.]

This reflects the widespread hacker belief that salescritters are self-selected for stupidity (after all, if they had brains and the inclination to use them, they’d be in programming). The terms ‘salesthing’ and ‘salesdroid’ are also common.

same-day service
n. Ironic term used to describe long response time, particularly with respect to MS-DOS system calls (which ought to require only a tiny fraction of a second to execute). Such response time is a major incentive for programmers to write programs that are not well-behaved.

silly walk [from Monty Python's Flying Circus] vi. 1. A ridiculous procedure required to accomplish a task. Like grovel, but more random and humorous. “I had to silly-walk through half the /usr directories to find the maps file.” 2. Syn. fandango on core.

suit n. 1. Ugly and uncomfortable ‘business clothing’ often worn by non-hackers. Invariably worn with a ‘tie’, a strangulation device that partially cuts off the blood supply to the brain. It is thought that this explains much about the behavior of suit-wearers.

sun lounge [Great Britain] n. The room where all the Sun workstations live. The humor in this term comes from the fact that it’s also in mainstream use to describe a solarium, and all those Sun workstations clustered together give off an amazing amount of heat.

That’s not a bug, that’s a feature! The canonical first parry in a debate about a purported bug. The complainant, if unconvinced, is likely to retort that the bug is then at best a misfeature.

This time, for sure! excl. Ritual affirmation frequently uttered during protracted debugging sessions involving numerous small obstacles (e.g., attempts to bring up a UUCP connection). For the proper effect, this must be uttered in a fruity imitation of Bullwinkle J. Moose. Also heard: “Hey, Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!” The canonical response is, of course, “But that trick *never* works!”

time sink [poss. by analogy with ‘heat sink’ or ‘current sink’] n. A project that consumes unbounded amounts of time.

tip of the ice-cube [IBM] n. The visible part of something small and insignificant. Used as an ironic comment in situations where ‘tip of the iceberg’ might be appropriate if the subject were at all important.

to a zeroth approximation [from ‘to a first approximation’] A *really* sloppy approximation; a wild guess.

tree-killer [Sun] n. 1. A printer. 2. A person who wastes paper. This should be interpreted in a broad sense; ‘wasting paper’ includes the production of spiffy but content-free documents. Thus, most suits are tree-killers. The negative loading of this term may reflect the epithet ‘tree-killer’ applied by Treebeard the Ent to the Orcs in J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’.

treeware n. Printouts, books, and other information media made from pulped dead trees.

virtual Friday n. (also ‘logical Friday’) The last day before an extended weekend, if that day is not a ‘real’ Friday. For example, the U.S. holiday Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday. The next day is often also a holiday or taken as an extra day off, in which case Wednesday of that week is a virtual Friday (and Thursday is a virtual Saturday, as is Friday). There are also ‘virtual Mondays’ that are actually Tuesdays, after the three-day weekends associated with many national holidays in the U.S.

Vulcan nerve pinch n. [from the old “Star Trek” TV series via Commodore Amiga hackers] The keyboard combination that forces a soft-boot or jump to ROM monitor (on machines that support such a feature). On many micros this is Ctrl-Alt-Del; on Suns, L1-A; on some Macintoshes, it is -! Also called three-finger salute.

walking drives n. An occasional failure mode of magnetic-disk drives back in the days when they were huge, clunky washing machines. Those old dinosaur parts carried terrific angular momentum; the combination of a misaligned spindle or worn bearings and stick-slip interactions with the floor could cause them to ‘walk’ across a room, lurching alternate corners forward a couple of millimeters at a time. There is a legend about a drive that walked over to the only door to the computer room and jammed it shut; the staff had to cut a hole in the wall in order to get at it! Walking could also be induced by certain patterns of drive access (a fast seek across the whole width of the disk, followed by a slow seek in the other direction). Some bands of old-time hackers figured out how to induce disk-accessing patterns that would do this to particular drive models and held disk-drive races.

wall follower n. A person or algorithm that compensates for lack of sophistication or native stupidity by efficiently following some simple procedure shown to have been effective in the past. Used of an algorithm, this is not necessarily pejorative; it recalls ‘Harvey Wallbanger’, the winning robot in an early AI contest (named, of course, after the cocktail). Harvey successfully solved mazes by keeping a ‘finger’ on one wall and running till it came out the other end. This was inelegant, but it was mathematically guaranteed to work on simply-connected mazes — and, in fact, Harvey outperformed more sophisticated robots that tried to ‘learn’ each maze by building an internal representation of it. Used of humans, the term *is* pejorative and implies an uncreative, bureaucratic, by-the-book mentality.

wave a dead chicken v. To perform a ritual in the direction of crashed software or hardware that one believes to be futile but is nevertheless necessary so that others are satisfied that an appropriate degree of effort has been expended. “I’ll wave a dead chicken over the source code, but I really think we’ve run into an OS bug.”

wetware /wet’weir/ [prob. from the novels of Rudy Rucker] n. 1. The human nervous system, as opposed to computer hardware or software. “Wetware has 7 plus or minus 2 temporary registers.” 2. Human beings (programmers, operators, administrators) attached to a computer system, as opposed to the system’s hardware or software.

wugga wugga /wuh’g* wuh’g*/ n. Imaginary sound that a computer program makes as it labors with a tedious or difficult task.

zipperhead [IBM] n. A person with a closed mind.

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