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= Z =


1. /n./ Spiciness. 2. /vt./ To make food spicy. 3. /vt./ To make someone `suffer' by making his food spicy. (Most hackers love spicy food. Hot-and-sour soup is considered wimpy unless it makes you wipe your nose for the rest of the meal.) See zapped. 4. /vt./ To modify, usually to correct; esp. used when the action is performed with a debugger or binary patching tool. Also implies surgical precision. "Zap the debug level to 6 and run it again." In the IBM mainframe world, binary patches are applied to programs or to the OS with a program called `superzap', whose file name is `IMASPZAP' (possibly contrived from I M A SuPerZAP). 5. /vt./ To erase or reset. 6. To fry a chip with static electricity. "Uh oh -- I think that lightning strike may have zapped the disk controller."

zapped /adj./

Spicy. This term is used to distinguish between food that is hot (in temperature) and food that is spicy-hot. For example, the Chinese appetizer Bon Bon Chicken is a kind of chicken salad that is cold but zapped; by contrast, vanilla wonton soup is hot but not zapped. See also oriental food, laser chicken. See zap, senses 1 and 2.

zen /vt./

To figure out something by meditation or by a sudden flash of enlightenment. Originally applied to bugs, but occasionally applied to problems of life in general. "How'd you figure out the buffer allocation problem?" "Oh, I zenned it." Contrast grok, which connotes a time-extended version of zenning a system. Compare hack mode. See also guru.

zero /vt./

1. To set to 0. Usually said of small pieces of data, such as bits or words (esp. in the construction `zero out'). 2. To erase; to discard all data from. Said of disks and directories, where `zeroing' need not involve actually writing zeroes throughout the area being zeroed. One may speak of something being `logically zeroed' rather than being `physically zeroed'. See scribble.

zero-content /adj./

Syn. content-free.

Zero-One-Infinity Rule /prov./

"Allow none of foo, one of foo, or any number of foo." A rule of thumb for software design, which instructs one to not place random limits on the number of instances of a given entity (such as: windows in a window system, letters in an OS's filenames, etc.). Specifically, one should either disallow the entity entirely, allow exactly one instance (an "exception"), or allow as many as the user wants -- address space and memory permitting.

The logic behind this rule is that there are often situations where it makes clear sense to allow one of something instead of none. However, if one decides to go further and allow N (for N > 1), then why not N+1? And if N+1, then why not N+2, and so on? Once above 1, there's no excuse not to allow any N; hence, infinity.

Many hackers recall in this connection Isaac Asimov's SF novel "The Gods Themselves" in which a character announces that the number 2 is impossible -- if you're going to believe in more than one universe, you might as well believe in an infinite number of them.

zeroth /zee'rohth/ /adj./

First. Among software designers, comes from C's and LISP's 0-based indexing of arrays. Hardware people also tend to start counting at 0 instead of 1; this is natural since, e.g., the 256 states of 8 bits correspond to the binary numbers 0, 1, ..., 255 and the digital devices known as `counters' count in this way.

Hackers and computer scientists often like to call the first chapter of a publication `Chapter 0', especially if it is of an introductory nature (one of the classic instances was in the First Edition of K&R). In recent years this trait has also been observed among many pure mathematicians (who have an independent tradition of numbering from 0). Zero-based numbering tends to reduce fencepost errors, though it cannot eliminate them entirely.

zigamorph /zig'*-morf/ /n./

1. Hex FF (11111111) when used as a delimiter or fence character. Usage: primarily at IBM shops. 2. [proposed] /n./ The Unicode non-character U+FFFF (1111111111111111), a character code which is not assigned to any character, and so is usable as end-of-string. (Unicode (a subset of ISO 10646) is a 16-bit character code intended to cover all of the world's writing systems, including Roman, Greek, Cyrillic, Chinese, hiragana, katakana, Devanagari, Ethiopic, Thai, Laotian and many other languages (support for elvish is planned for a future release).

zip /vt./

[primarily MS-DOS] To create a compressed archive from a group of files using PKWare's PKZIP or a compatible archiver. Its use is spreading now that portable implementations of the algorithm have been written. Commonly used as follows: "I'll zip it up and send it to you." See tar and feather.

zipperhead /n./

[IBM] A person with a closed mind.

zombie /n./

[Unix] A process that has died but has not yet relinquished its process table slot (because the parent process hasn't executed a wait(2) for it yet). These can be seen in ps(1) listings occasionally. Compare orphan.

zorch /zorch/

1. [TMRC] /v./ To attack with an inverse heat sink. 2. [TMRC] /v./ To travel, with @Math{v} approaching @Math{c} [that is, with velocity approaching lightspeed --ESR]. 3. [MIT] /v./ To propel something very quickly. "The new comm software is very fast; it really zorches files through the network." 4. [MIT] /n./ Influence. Brownie points. Good karma. The intangible and fuzzy currency in which favors are measured. "I'd rather not ask him for that just yet; I think I've used up my quota of zorch with him for the week." 5. [MIT] /n./ Energy, drive, or ability. "I think I'll punt that change for now; I've been up for 30 hours and I've run out of zorch." 6. [MIT] /v./ To flunk an exam or course.

Zork /zork/ /n./

The second of the great early experiments in computer fantasy gaming; see ADVENT. Originally written on MIT-DM during 1977-1979, later distributed with BSD Unix (as a patched, sourceless RT-11 FORTRAN binary; see retrocomputing) and commercialized as `The Zork Trilogy' by Infocom. The FORTRAN source was later rewritten for portability and released to Usenet under the name "Dungeon". Both FORTRAN "Dungeon" and translated C versions are available at many FTP sites.

zorkmid /zork'mid/ /n./

The canonical unit of currency in hacker-written games. This originated in Zork but has spread to nethack and is referred to in several other games.

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