We would talk through the cubicle wall about all sorts of things - I would help him with Mac things and he would help me with Unix things. (I still use vi and FreeBSD a lot.) His business card title was Software Swami and mine was Software Explorer. He got me a great vanity email address: email@example.com. It was a badge of honor to have an email address with just your first name at a company which had many, many people. He was, of course, firstname.lastname@example.org. I had that email address for ten years before it became popular for people to be on email. In fact, I had that email address for several years when I did not even work at Apple! (1991-1993) During that time I still used it. I then returned to Apple again in 1994 to work on PowerPC Macs but when I left for Microsoft at the end of 1994 I finally lost my email address.
I also went flying with Rick in his airplanes, including a Mooney 201 and a Piper Malibu. We would fly to the Nut Tree, or to the Elephant Bar in Santa Barbara, or to Harris Ranch in central California. These trips were just for dinner after work. Those were great days!
Anyway, one day Rick was laughing and laughing and the source of his laughter was this document, which he gave me a copy of years ago in 1986. It was called The Meaning of ls. The place names are mainly from California. It is humorous to Californian Unix programmers and probably to few others. (Rick and I are both Californian Unix programmers.)
Rick offers this further explanation of the origin of this document:
I was indeed a major author of "ls." At the Portland Usenix Conference in 1985, Sonja Bock (then of Genentech) introduced me to The Meaning of Liff by Douglas Adams. She and I then began making up items in a similar vein, naturally related to Unix. There were a few other contributors; I'm sure Eryk Vershen must've offered a few.
December 2, 1986 The Meaning of ls Alameda (n) The act of trying to figure out the mean time required for e-mail delivery over the several hops between sites. Alamo (n) The command line option you always tend to forget. Aldercroft (n) You have wasted time with an Aldercroft when you change a program and keep testing the old version by mistake. Alum Rock (n) A problem which requires rebooting the system to clear up. Many times an Alum Rock will send the system directly to Morgan Hill. Alviso (n) A meaningless warning message. Ano Nuevo (n) The process of logging out and logging in again in the attempt to cleanup a confused terminal state. Antioch (n) The cabinet in which backup tapes are stored. Aptos (n) The mental state entered during the debugging pro- cess when one decides to write a filter to identify and locate missing closing braces, parens and comment sequences. Also known as Nesting Instinct. Atherton 1. (n) One who gives the appearance of great knowledge of the system, but is immediately proven phony by the first real question; 2. (v) To document or comment using conventions, constants, or variables defined nowhere. Bakersfield (n) The column which contains an invalid delimiter. Belmont (n) Any sequence of heavily quoted and escaped meta- characters which will be accepted unquestionably by one shell and cause the other to go Hayfork. Belvedere (n) The holy war between two factions of programmers about the ``correct'' way to format C programs. See Purisima. Benicia (n) State of mind during which you solve someone else's problem when you don't have to, and don't have nearly the time to spend, but you help anyway. Berkeley (n) 1. In hacking, the as-yet unrecognized bug that has been commented out pending further enlightenment; 2. Of sailing, to throw up over the correct side of the boat. Berryessa (n) That subset of files or versions created between the last backup and the next headcrash. Big Basin (n) The inevitable catastrophic mistake which will some- day be made while logged in as root. Big Sur (n) The furor caused by a Millbrae which turns out to have been bogus. Bodega Bay (n) A directory liberally sprinkled with filenames that contain Piedmonts. Bolinas (n) The dazzling and highly technical discourses delivered by staff (in bored and condescending tones) to meddlesome users to explain why the last fixes to the system do not seem in any appreciable way to have improved its efficency. See Pinnacles. Bonny Doon (n) A particularly enjoyable practical joke played remotely to someone's terminal. For example, sending the scroll-up/scroll-down sequence periodically to jitter the screen image. See Lafayette. Brisbane (n) Any of a number of syntax errors involving missing white space, as in foo->bar=*quux;. Burlingame (n) Any of a selection of net-oriented highly competi- tive and interactive games involving skill, cunning, and a modicum of strategy, highly touted and provided (binary only) by the newest arrival at any giveor. sound made by a tape drive unloading. Campbell (n) The six-minute wild blur of keystrokes issued by a wizard while fixing a problem. A Campbell is never really understood by the observer, and often cannot be fully explained by the perpetrator. Carbona (n) The state of perplexed fury felt when seeing awk bail out for the umpteenth time. Carmel (n) The coating of shiny glaze on the bottom of an unwashed coffee mug. Capitola (n) Cost-cutting measures imposed on long distance uucp links. Castroville (adj) Any spectacularly tedious and obscure document is said to be Castroville. Coalinga (n) The protocol performed by one computer upon another during a uucp link. Colma (n) The condition of waiting patiently for screen output when one assumes the system is slow, however something has actually crashed. Crockett (n) A cute engineering-achievement award you keep around long after the product has died. Cupertino (n) The tool for cutting a neat new leading edge on a tape. Cupertinoes are often nowhere to be found when you need them. Should you try to buy one, everyone you call will know exactly what you want, but nobody will have one. Corte Madera (n) The foreplay protocol used by two computers to establish a uucp connection prior to performing Coa- linga. Daly City (n) The collection of header, object, and source files for cunning examples of creeping featurism written specifically to avoid tackling a sticky algorithm. Davenport (n) The hole left by a missing square of raised floor- ing. Diablo Canyon (n) Technical name for the state a process has gotten into wherein it ignores all attempts to kill it. Donner Pass (n) When a command doesn't work, it's often typed again just to ``make sure''. The second attempt is referred to as ``Making a Donner Pass.'' Dublin (n) An effect on pids of getty processes caused by a Hayward line. Dumbarton (n) A person who still doesn't understand the proper use of a program, even after repeated tutorials. El Cerrito (n) The corran out. El Granada (n) A severe hardware crash which persists despite repeated repair attempts by an army of Field Engineers. An El Granada can be recognized by its distinctive series of replies from the FE's that they've ``Found it for sure this time.'' Some El Granadas have been known to persist for months. Embarcadero (n) One who uses root privileges without due caution. Emeryville (n) Of systems managers, the state in which one grows increasingly abrasive towards the user community in /etc/motd. An example of this is ``Users exceeding quo- tas will have their passwords arbitrarily changed and their rogue.saves removed!'' Fairfax (n) Documentation which has been photocopied so many times that it is almost unreadable. Most copies of the John Lions Unix Version 6 notes are Fairfaxes. Felton 1. (n) The technique used to make a connection in a Por- tola Valley; 2. (v) Used as a verb to describe the use of this technique, as in ``he kept Felton around until he found the right cable''. Foster City (n) The local source directory containing pirated code with one- or two-line changes to make the program appear specific to your application. Fremont (n) The person who knows where blank tapes are to be found. Fresno (n) Measure of the amount of time spent waiting for the DEC field engineer to call back. Gilroy (n) The unknown control character you've typed which has set your terminal into a wierd state. Unfortunately, it's impossible to reverse the effect of a Gilroy. Garberville (n) The directory containing old versions of programs. Glacier Point (n) A print job at the head of the print queue for a particularly unreliable printer is said to have reached the Glacier Point if it is never expected to complete successfully. Gough (n) The momentary attack of nausea and dizziness which occurs after having committed a Big Basin. Half Moon Bay (n) A Half Moon Bay is the situation you have created when you fix one problem and cause a far more serious one. Hayfork (adj) Descriptive of a process which has gone into an orgy of recursive forks of subprocesses. Hayward (adj) A communication line is said to be Hayward when it is open and particularly noisy, generating breaks and false carrier transitions. Hillsborough (n) The erroneous initialization or misplaced increment/decrement operator which causes any given loop to terminate one iteration too soon or too late. Hollister (n, archaic) Steel knife used to clear jammed bits in a keypunch machine. Hollisters are extremely rare today, though surprisingly not as rare as in the days when they were used. Holy City (n) A site which changes root passwords regularly. Ignacio (n) The formula used to determine the number of redirects necessary to make a command of any use. Inverness (n) A sudden hardware glitch which usually sends the system directly to Morgan Hill. Klamath (n) The key, especially space or carriage-return, struck with distinctive violence, which punctuates an individual's typing style; hence hackers can be identi- fied by their Klamath falls. Lafayette (n) The characteristic laugh of the recipient of a Bonny Doon who immediately begins thinking of a retaliatory one. Livermore (n) Technical term describing login behavior when two gettys are directed at the same terminal, usually as the result of a Milpitas. Larkspur (n) A diversieries of innovative shortcuts; eventually, all Larkspurs end in the realization that the conserva- tive approach would have been finished long ago. Loleta (n) The seductive code patch received via net.games that results in a Big Sur amongst the gaming community. Lompico (n) Measure of the amount by which any given buffer is slightly too small. Los Altos (n) Measure of the time wasted during a hurried login because you typed your password too soon and now e too. Los Gatos (n) Handshake protocols described in operating and owner's manuals in which a typo has gone unnoticed. Manteca (n) A ``possible cause'' for your problem, which you check for lack of a better idea. As expected, you find out it was fine all along; at least it gave you time to think of something new to try. Mendocino (n) The state of your terminal after trying to use curses. Millbrae (n) Any promise that the changes made will not affect users. Milpitas (n) A small error made while logged in as root. A Mil- pitas is usually not very serious and is easy to fix, though it often raises a few eyebrows. Modesto (n) A guru who solves all problems quietly and accu- rately, with minimal fanfare. Opposite of a Ukiah. Monta Vista (n) The safe plahe canned ``caveat'' speech given when delivering a preliminary version of a program which isn't quite complete. Monte Sereno (n) The false sense of security one gets when a program appears to be running perfectly, before finding out that things were actually going terribly wrong. Moraga (n) Description for the sudden sharp pain that occurs when an obviously private e-mail message appears on your terminal during a demo for corporate management or roy- alty. Often occurs in the presence of a colleague who is especially adept at putting two and two together. Morgan Hill (n) The place a system goes when it's hung or otherwise in serious trouble. See Alum Rock and Inverness. Napa (n) The silence of your terminal during login password validation. Niles (n) Unit of measure of magnetic tape spooled to the floor. Novato (n) To perform a Novato, you execute a quick command sequence dance to ensure that you did actually exit from the su shell you were running. Occidental (n) The ``illegal lhs'' error messages reported by the C Compiler. Pacifica (n) Statements, made to users, to the changed''. Both the speaker and the listener know that a Pacifica is patently false. Pajaro (n) The laughter caused when you do something so dumb that your colleagues can't help breaking up. Palo Alto 1. (n) The head-spinning rush of adrenalin experienced by those logged in as root after typing rm -r *
as they remember forgetting to give the pwd command just previously; 2. That feeling only experienced in other people's bathrooms as one realizes that the water in the bowl is surging up rather than down following a hearty flush. Permanente (n) The familiar hardtenance. Pescadero (n) Aerson who complains of system troubles when it's actually his problem. The term's Latin origins suggest a literal translation to the effect that something's fishy. Petaluma (n) An erratic power failure which causes damage to the system. Piedmont (n) The nonprinting character in a filename which pro- tects the file from further access. Pinnacles (n) The sharply barbed remarks made by the users to stafnges to the wrong version of a program. Often used in speech as ``feeling like a real Pinole...''. Pittsburg (n) The situation which occurs when trouble strikes at 5pm on a Friday. A Pittsburg often starts out appearing like a simple Pleasanton, but one soon finds out the truth. Placerville (n) Where all lost jobs end up. Pleasanton (n) A small, easily solved problem. True Pleasantons are rare. Point Arena (n) Where all Floating-Point Exception errors take your program. Portola Valley (n) The inaccessible or invisible place in a patch-panel where cable connections must be made. Prunedale (n) A small program or script whose usefulness is real- ized when you delete it after it's lain fallow for months. Purisima (n) The state of mind during which you decide to beau- tify someone else's program because its present format is maddening. See Belvedere. Redding (v) The act of resetting a device several times in suc- cession to ensure that it is in a known state. Richmond (n) The person who always has the odd cable or hardware widget that you need. Ross (n) An unfamiliar program which you execute to ``see what it does'' and all it does is hang, or cause you to go Seaside. Sacramento (n) 1. The enlightenment felt by a Unix hacker who gets a VMS hacker to see the light; 2. The enlightenment felt by a VMS hacker who gets a Unix hacker to see the light. Salinas (n) A Milpitas which takes 3 people to figure out and fix while you're out to a long lunch. Often results in a Sebastopol. San Gregorio (n) Exclamation of anger and disgust uttered through clenched jaws as you realize you just made the same mis- take for the second (or third) time. San Jose (n) The art of selecting forms of alloc() which provide both memory and a random selection of hieroglyphics. San Luis Obispo (n) A piece of code which expands to fill all available space. Santa Cruz (n) The contented state of an unattended system left running over a long weekend. Saratoga (n) The ill-fitting sweater shared by the staff for use during long debugging sessions in a chilly computer room. Typically, the Saratoga originally belonged to someone who left the company years ago. Sausalito (n) 1. The nonexistent #ifdef or #ifndef that adds spice to the concept of portability. 2. The critical step left out in a set of written or spoken procedures. Seaside (n) Your login session goes Seaside because of something you have done as a naive user. Using various control keys only makes matters worse. Generally, you don't know enough to have caused a Hayfork, but your login session will likely have to be killed from elsewhere anyway. Sebastopol (n) The barrage of good-natured insults endured after committing a Salinas. Soledad (n) The exact measure of the difference in efficiency between BSD4.1 and BSD4.2. Sonoma (n) The interminable delay during an fsck. Spreckels (n) Little bits of nonsensical output, often containing unprintable characters, produced by an errant program. Stockton (n) One who gets stuck reloading the paper in a hardcopy device. Sunnyvale (n) The place where zombie processes spend their time while waiting for init to collect them. Sunol (n) The person who knows where the backup tape you want is stored. Tiburon (n) That mode of graphics terminals in which it becomes impossible to clear graphic memory without hitting the power switch. Tracy (adj) Descriptive term applied to a particularly verbose program. Trinidad (n) The exact measure of the difference in efficiency between BSD4.1 and BSD4.3. Turlock (n) The condition which exists when someone else has the key to the VAX front panel, and you're working on a weekend. Ukiah (n) One who drones long and loud about his intimate knowledge of the system, and is avoided because of this tiresome banter. It is an unfortunate fact that Ukiahs often know the solution to a problem, but nobody wants to ask them. Vallejo (n) Exclamation given when some serious and arcane prob- lem is finally fixed through a combination of lucky guesswork and trial-and-error. Walnut Creek (n) 1. The sound made by the vacuum columns in a tape drive as they first suck the tape in; 2. Where a kernel hacker often finds he's gotten. Woodside (n) Generic name for any home-brew computer system. Yuba City (n) The failure of the system to reboot after preventive maintenance. Intentionally mispronounced Yubiccity in disgust.