Monday, October 30, 2006

Steve Wozniak

Did you know that Steve Wozniak was working for Hewlett Packard when he invented the Apple computer?


Grok: Taken from Robert Heinlein's book 'Stranger in a Strange Land', the word literally meaning 'to drink' but taken to mean 'understanding' and is often used by programmers and other assorted geeks.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Drunk Mouse Syndrome

Drunk Mouse Syndrome, also known as Mouse on Drugs, refers to a malady exhibited by the mouse pointing device of some computers. The typical symptom is for the mouse cursor on the screen to move in random directions and not in sync with the motion of the actual mouse.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Did you know that the term Cokebottle refers to any very unusual character, particularly one you cannot type because it isn't on your keyboard?

Internet Connectivity

Did you know that the United States, Canada, France, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, and Mexico were the first ten countries to have Internet connectivity?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Sony PlayStation

Did you know that Sony's PlayStation began its life as a CD attachment for the Nintendo Super NES? When the two companies failed to agree on how the new device would sell, Sony decided to further develop it into a game machine of its own and released the PlayStation in 1995.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


TANSTAAFL: "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch", often invoked when someone is balking at the prospect of using an unpleasantly heavyweight technique, or at the poor quality of some piece of software. Taken from Robert Heinlein's classic "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress".

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Gibson Security Research

On May 4, 2001 Gibson Security Research Corp. came under DDoS attack and taken off-line by a 13-year-old hacker, because he believed that Steve Gibson had called him a name and later went ahead with it because it was fun.

Friday, August 11, 2006

David Levy

In 1968, International Master David Levy made a $3,000 bet with John McCarthy, researcher in Artificial Intelligence at Stanford, that no chess computer would beat him in 10 years. He won his bet.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Beepilepsy is the brief seizure people sometimes suffer when their beepers go off, especially in vibrator mode. Characterized by physical spasms, goofy facial expressions and stopping speech in mid-sentence.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Spontaneous Program Combustion

Spontaneous program combustion is when an application, which has been running normally for hours and in the absence of any other unusual phenomena, suddenly crashes.


In 1906, Lee de Forest developed the three electrode vacuum tube amplifier, which he called the Audion. The device was used as a detector of radio signals, an amplifier of audio and an oscillator for transmitting.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


Burble is a message posted with the intention to insult and provoke, similar to flame, except here the "burbler" is totally clueless and ineffectual. The word comes from Lewis Carroll's nonsense poem, Jabberwocky.

Bit Twiddling

Bit twiddling is an exercise in tuning in which incredible amounts of time and effort go to produce little noticeable improvement, often with the result that the code becomes incomprehensible.

BELLE Computer

Did you know that in 1982 the U.S. State Department confiscated the BELLE computer as it was heading to the Soviet Union to participate in a computer chess tournament? The Department claimed it was a violation of a technology transfer law to ship a high technology computer to a foreign country.

Friday, May 19, 2006


Cyberpiracy refers to the purchase of an Internet domain name that includes a company's registered trademark name, with the intention of selling the domain name to the company.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Kenji Urada

In 1981, a self-propelled robotic cart crushed Kenji Urada, 37, as he was trying to repair it in a Japanese factory. This was the first reported death caused by a robot.


Did you know that the Eudora email program was named after the American writer Eudora Welty? Welty had written a short story called 'Why I Live at the P.O.'

Aluminum Book

Aluminum Book refers to the second edition of Guy L. Steele Jr.'s 'Common LISP: The Language' published in 1990. Due to a technical snag some printings of the second edition are actually what the author calls 'yucky green'.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Chris Lamprecht

On May 5, 1995, Chris Lamprecht (Minor Threat) became the first person to be banned from the Internet. Chris was sentenced for a number of crimes to which he pled guilty. In the early 1990s Chris had written a phone dialing program called ToneLoc (Tone Locator) to find open modem lines in telephone exchanges.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Did you know that "Hunger" was the first computer animated film, produced by Rene Jodoin and directed and animated by Peter Foldes in 1974?

Rat Dance

Rat dance (from the Dilbert comic strip of Nov. 14, 1995) refers to a hacking run that produces results which, while superficially coherent, have little or nothing to do with its original objectives. In the comic strip, Ratbert is invited to dance on Dilbert's keyboard in order to produce bugs for him to fix, but instead authors a Web browser.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out) refers to the fact that computers, unlike humans, will unquestioningly process the most nonsensical of input data and produce nonsensical output. GIGO is usually said in response to lusers* who complain that a program didn't "do the right thing" when given imperfect input or otherwise mistreated in some way.

Luser - A user who is also a loser.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Devil Book

The "Devil Book" refers to "The Design and Implementation of the 4.3BSD Unix Operating System", by Samuel J. Leffler, Marshall Kirk McKusick, Michael J. Karels and John S. Quarterman. The book, which is a standard reference book on the internals of BSD Unix, is so called because the cover has a picture depicting a little devil (a visual play on daemon) in sneakers, holding a pitchfork (referring to one of the characteristic features of Unix, the "fork" system call).

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Original PC Motherboard

The original PC motherboard, which premiered in 1982, was a large printed circuit card that contained the 8088 microprocessor, the BIOS, sockets for the CPU's RAM and a collection of slots that auxiliary cards could plug into. Additions like a floppy disk drive or a parallel port or a joystick needed a separate card that was plugged into one of the slots.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Did you know that Lehigh, which appeared in 1987, was the first memory resident virus? The Lehigh virus attacked the '' file, which was a program file that gave important start-up directions to the computer.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Colossus Computer

The "Colossus" computer, used to crack German signals intelligence during World War II, was built by Tommy Flowers and crew at the British Post Office Research Station at Dollis Hill.


Spamhaus, the plural being spamhausen, is a pejorative term for an Internet service provider that permits or even encourages spam mailings from its systems.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Ray Tomlinson

In October 1971, Ray Tomlinson, who has been called the father of email, invented the software that allowed messages to be sent between computers. His email address was tomlinson@bbn-tenexa. BBN was his employer and Tenex was the operating system used by machines at the company.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Featurectomy is the act of removing a feature from a program. There are two types of featurectomies, the "righteous" and the "reluctant". Righteous featurectomies are performed when the remover believes the program would be more elegant without the feature, or there is a better way to achieve the same end. Reluctant featurectomies are done to satisfy some external constraint such as code size or execution speed.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Hao Jinglong & Hao Jingwen

In 1998, a Chinese court sentenced to death the twin brothers, Hao Jinglong and Hao Jingwen, for breaking into the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China computers and stealing $87,000. The Yangzhou Intermediate People's Court in the eastern Jiangsu province rejected Jingwen's appeal and upheld the death sentence, while suspending Jinglong's sentence in return for his testimony.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Atari Pong

When Atari Pong, the home version of the popular Atari arcade Pong game, was released in 1975, it made a huge cultural splash and started the video game boom. The game, sold through Sears-Roebuck, had two built-in controllers and of course, only played Pong.

The Book of Mozilla

Did you know that if you are using Netscape Navigator and type 'about:mozilla' as a URL, you should see a passage from The Book of Mozilla?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Ninety-Ninety Rule

The Ninety-Ninety Rule is an aphorism attributed to Tom Cargill of Bell Labs. "The first 90% of the code accounts for the first 90% of the development time. The remaining 10% of the code accounts for the other 90% of the development time."

Monday, April 03, 2006

Atari's VCS

Atari's VCS (Video Computer System) also called 2600, released in 1977, was the first Atari 8-bit video console that revolutionized the home video game market by refining the concept of a game system that used interchangeable cartridges. Available until around 1990, the console has the longest market time in history.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

John Scoch

John Scoch created the idea of a worm at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in the late 1970s. The worm was meant to travel through computers on a network, looking for those that were idle and not at work. The worm would then allow people who needed computer time to borrow the idle PC's processing power.

Friday, March 31, 2006


Guiltware is 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 him loads of money.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Washing Machines

Did you know that the term Washing Machines refer to old-style 14-inch hard disks in floor-standing cabinets? They were so called because of the size of the cabinet and the 'top-loading' access to the media packs and because they were always set on 'spin cycle'.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Virtual Beer

Virtual beer could either signify praise or thanks. The term is used universally in the Linux community. Originally this term signified cash, after the famous incident in which some Brits, who wanted to buy Linus a beer, sent him the money to do so in Finland.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Project Gutenberg

The first etext to appear under the Project Gutenberg was the "Declaration of Independence" typed by Michael Hart himself, the founder of the project.

Lip Service

Did you know that Lip Service by M. J. Rose is said to be the first ebook to be discovered online by the mainstream publishing industry?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


In 1956, Morton Heilig invented the Sensorama, the first device for providing multi-sensory virtual experiences. The Sensorama combined projected film, audio, vibration, wind and odors, all designed to make the user feel as if he were actually in the film rather than simply watching it.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

HP Pavilion 6330

In 1996, HP and AMD began their collaboration with the introduction of the HP Pavilion 6330, the first AMD processor-based consumer PC from a major manufacturer. The computer featured an AMD K6-2 microprocessor and was priced at $949.

Monday, March 13, 2006

First English Calculator

Did you know that the first English calculator was built in the UK by Sir Samuel Norland in 1688? It was a non-decimal adding machine suitable for use with English money. The device used auxiliary dials instead of a carry mechanism, which required the user to re-enter the numbers manually.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Floating-Point Algorithm

The use of algorithms is fundamental to developing computer programs. But did you know that the Babylonians, during Hammurabi's dynasty (1800-1600 B.C.), used the floating-point algorithm, which included conditional branches and iterations, for excavations, linear equations and geometric problems?

Friday, March 10, 2006


Perl, which was created almost single-handedly by Larry Wall, stands for Practical Extraction and Report Language. But did you know that Larry also endorsed an alternative meaning - 'Pathologically Eclectic Rubbish Lister'?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Ian Goldberg

On January 28, 1997, Ian Goldberg took on RSA Data Security's challenge and cracked the 40-bit code by linking together 250 idle workstations that allowed him to test 100 billion possible "keys" per hour. In three and a half hours Goldberg decoded the message, which read, "This is why you should use a longer key."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Symantec Probe Network

Did you know that the Symantec Probe Network currently has more than two million decoy accounts, which attract email messages from 20 different countries around the world, allowing Symantec to gauge global spam and phishing activity?

Shigeru Miyamoto

Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario, once said in an interview that Mario wore a cap because he found it difficult to draw hair. Of course, technology restrictions in the mid-'80s prevented them from animating hair.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Smoke Test

A Smoke Test is a rudimentary form of testing applied to electronic equipment following repair or reconfiguration, in which power is applied and the tester checks for sparks, smoke, or other dramatic signs of fundamental failure.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Teergrube, which is the German word for tar pit, is a trap for spammers who use an address harvester; a mail server deliberately set up to be really slow. To activate it, scatter addresses that look like users on the teergrube's host in places where the address harvester will be trolling. The address harvester will collect the address. When the spammer tries to mailbomb it, his mailer will get stuck.

Saturday, March 04, 2006


On March 10, 1997, a hacker named 'Jester' disabled a key telephone company computer servicing the Worcester Airport, cutting off the Federal Aviation Administration tower. Jester was sentenced to pay restitution to the telephone company and complete 250 hours of community service. This was the first time that federal charges were brought against a juvenile for a computer crime.

Friday, March 03, 2006


In 1831, Dr. Joseph Antoine Plateau and Dr. Simon Rittrer constructed the Phenakitstoscope, which produced an illusion of movement by allowing a viewer to gaze at a rotating disk containing small windows, behind which was another disk containing a sequence of images. When the disks were rotated at the correct speed, the synchronization of the windows with the images created an animated effect.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Gedanken is the German word for 'thought' and it has a pejorative connotation among hackers. It refers to a project, especially one in artificial intelligence research that is written up in grand detail without ever being implemented to any great extent. Such a project is usually perpetrated by people who aren't very good hackers or find programming distasteful or are just in a hurry.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Hysterical Reasons

The term "Hysterical reasons", a variant on the phrase "for historical reasons", indicates specifically that something must be done in some stupid way for backward compatibility and that the feature it must be compatible with was the result of a bad design in the first place.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Curador - Raphael Gray

On January 15, 2000, 19-year-old "Curador" Raphael Gray, stole over 23,000 credit card numbers from eight small companies. This "saint of e-commerce" hacked into U.S., British and Canadian companies during a crusade to expose holes in Internet security and used Bill Gates' credit card details to send him Viagra.

Monday, February 27, 2006


Tequila, the first widespread polymorphic virus, was found in the wild in 1991. Polymorphic viruses change their appearance with each new infection making it difficult for virus scanners to detect them.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


Spamming means to send the same message to many newsgroups or email addresses. Did you know that the term came from a sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus?

Mr Bun
What have you got, then?
Well there's egg and bacon; egg, sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg, bacon and spam; egg, bacon, sausage and spam; spam, bacon, sausage and spam; spam, egg, spam, spam, bacon and spam; spam, spam, spam, egg and spam; spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam, spam and spam; or lobster thermidor aux crevettes with a mornay sauce garnished with truffle pâté, brandy and a fried egg on top and spam.
Mrs Bun
Have you got anything without spam in it?
Well there's spam, egg, sausage and spam. That's not got much spam in it.
Mrs Bun
I don't want any spam.
Mr Bun
Why can't she have egg, bacon, spam and sausage?
Mrs Bun
That's got spam in it!
Mr Bun
Not as much as spam, egg, sausage and spam.
Mrs Bun
Look, could I have egg, bacon, spam and sausage without the spam.
Mrs Bun
What d'you mean uuugggh! I don't like spam.
Vikings (singing)
Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam ... spam, spam, spam, spam ... lovely spam, wonderful spam ...

Saturday, February 25, 2006


On January 23, 1989 Herbert Zinn (Shadowhawk) was the first person to be convicted as a juvenile under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986. Zinn was 16 when he managed to break into AT&T and Department of Defense systems. He was sentenced to nine months in prison and fined $10,000.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Nokia 3310/3330

Nokia once said that if all the Nokia 3310/3330 phones sold were laid end-to-end, the line would stretch from Helsinki, Finland to Santiago, Chile - over 13,500 kilometers.

In September 1996 the world's most popular anonymous remailer was closed down by its operator Johan Helsingius after a Finnish court ruled that he must reveal a customer's real email address. The remailer had been raided by the Finnish police the previous year, following a complaint from the Church of Scientology that a customer was posting the church's secrets on the Internet.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Stalker Site

A Stalker site is a Web site that is devoted to a celebrity. The content of the site clearly indicates that the fan, who created the site, is obsessed with its subject.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


A Hamster in PC hardware terms refers to a tailless mouse, i.e., one with Bluetooth or an Infrared link to a receiver on the machine, as opposed to the conventional cable.

Tennis for Two

Did you know that William Higinbotham created the first videogame in 1958? The game, called "Tennis for Two", was created and played on a Brookhaven National Laboratory oscilloscope.

San Francisco Bay Area Earthquake

According to rumors the San Francisco Bay Area earthquake of 1989 was initiated by IBM to test quality-assurance procedures at its California plants.

Shakunla DeviSingla

On June 30, 1998, former Coast Guard employee, Shakunla DeviSingla, entered a personnel database she had helped design. She used her experience and a former co-worker's password and other identification to delete data. Her action required 115 employees and 1800 hours to recover the deleted information.

Hacking for Girlies

On September 13, 1998, hackers defaced The New York Times Web site, renaming it HFG (Hacking for Girlies). In early November, two members of HFG told Forbes magazine that they initiated the attack because they were bored and couldn't agree on a video to watch.

Chinese Typewriters

Did you know that some Chinese typewriters have 5,700 characters? The keyboard is almost three feet wide on some models and the fastest one can type on these machines is 11 words per minute.