Picks and Pans Main: Bytes
By now everyone knows what a bug is, but Eric Raymond can tell a Bohr bug (happens every time) from a heisenbug (disappears when you look for it). Raymond, 38, is editor of the third edition of The New Hacker's Dictionary, a lexicon-cum-cultural history first published in 1991. And while lusers (loser users) and newbies (Net neophytes) may see the veteran techie as a prototypical nerd, linguists and geek-chic enthusiasts might use the ultimate hackish compliment: wizard.
But above all, Raymond is a hacker, a word often used incorrectly, he says, to describe miscreants who illegally break into computers. Those people are crackers, he insists, and true hackers "consider them a lower form of life." Working out of the Malvern, Pa., home he shares with his longtime girlfriend, Raymond lives the old-time hacker ethic—writing software to give away on the Net and running a service to provide free Net access to area residents. He's also a black belt candidate in tae kwon do, despite mild cerebral palsy that left him with a limp. Childhood teasing about it led to "the kind of social isolation that creates a computer geek," he says. "I'm an extrovert, and I'm more confident in my writing ability than most hackers. But they're my people."
As for his book, below are some words and phrases defined in The New Hacker's Dictionary:
crufty: shoddy. Possible sources: Harvard's Cruft Hall or software (putatively) so old that's' looked like 'f'.
the Big Room: the great outdoors
IBM discount: a price increase
sagan: a large quantity (as in astronomer-pundit Carl Sagan's frequent talk of "billions and billions")