= Z =

zap

  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.

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 +UFFFF (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, Easter Island `rongo-rongo', and even Elvish.)

zip [primarily MS-DOS] vt. 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 [IBM] n. A person with a closed mind.

zombie [UNIX] n. 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 v approaching 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 the late 1970s, 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.