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The Jargon File, Version 4.0.0, 24 Jul 1996   By:

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======= THIS IS THE JARGON FILE, VERSION 4.0.0, 24 JUL 1996 =======

The Jargon Lexicon

= A = =====

:abbrev: / breev'/, / brev'/ /n./ Common abbreviation for `abbreviation'.

:ABEND: /a'bend/, / bend'/ /n./ [ABnormal END] Abnormal termination (of software); {crash}; {lossage}. Derives from an error message on the IBM 360; used jokingly by hackers but seriously mainly by {code grinder}s. Usually capitalized, but may appear as `abend'. Hackers will try to persuade you that ABEND is called `abend' because it is what system operators do to the machine late on Friday when they want to call it a day, and hence is from the German `Abend' = `Evening'.

:accumulator: /n. obs./ 1. Archaic term for a register. On line use of it as a synonym for `register' is a fairly reliable indication that the user has been around for quite a while and/or that the architecture under discussion is quite old. The term in full is almost never used of microprocessor registers, for example, though symbolic names for arithmetic registers beginning in `A' derive from historical use of the term `accumulator' (and not, actually, from `arithmetic'). Confusingly, though, an `A' register name prefix may also stand for `address', as for example on the Motorola 680x0 family. 2. A register being used for arithmetic or logic (as opposed to addressing or a loop index), especially one being used to accumulate a sum or count of many items. This use is in context of a particular routine or stretch of code. "The FOOBAZ routine uses A3 as an accumulator." 3. One's in basket (esp. among old timers who might use sense 1). "You want this reviewed? Sure, just put it in the accumulator." (See {stack}.)

:ACK: /ak/ /interj./ 1. [from the ASCII mnemonic for 0000110] Acknowledge. Used to register one's presence (compare mainstream Yo!). An appropriate response to {ping} or {ENQ}. 2. [from the comic strip "Bloom County"] An exclamation of surprised disgust, esp. in "Ack pffft!" Semi humorous. Generally this sense is not spelled in caps (ACK) and is distinguished by a following exclamation point. 3. Used to politely interrupt someone to tell them you understand their point (see {NAK}). Thus, for example, you might cut off an overly long explanation with "Ack. Ack. Ack. I get it now".

There is also a usage "ACK?" (from sense 1) meaning "Are you there?", often used in email when earlier mail has produced no reply, or during a lull in {talk mode} to see if the person has gone away (the standard humorous response is of course {NAK} (sense 2), i.e., "I'm not here").

:Acme: /n./ The canonical supplier of bizarre, elaborate, and non functional gadgetry where Rube Goldberg and Heath Robinson shop. Describing some X as an "Acme X" either means "This is {insanely great}", or, more likely, "This looks {insanely great} on paper, but in practice it's really easy to shoot yourself in the foot with it." Compare {pistol}.

This term, specially cherished by American hackers and explained here for the benefit of our overseas brethren, comes from the Warner Brothers' series of "Roadrunner" cartoons. In these cartoons, the famished Wile E. Coyote was forever attempting to catch up with, trap, and eat the Roadrunner. His attempts usually involved one or more high technology Rube Goldberg devices rocket jetpacks, catapults, magnetic traps, high powered slingshots, etc. These were usually delivered in large cardboard boxes, labeled prominently with the Acme name. These devices invariably malfunctioned in violent and improbable ways.

:acolyte: /n. obs./ [TMRC] An {OSU} privileged enough to submit data and programs to a member of the {priesthood}.

:ad hockery: /ad hok'r ee/ /n./ [Purdue] 1. Gratuitous assumptions made inside certain programs, esp. expert systems, which lead to the appearance of semi intelligent behavior but are in fact entirely arbitrary... Continue reading book >>

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