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[a play on `read-only memory'] n. Code so arcane, complex, or ill-structured that it cannot be modified or even comprehended by anyone but its...
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View Definition: talk mode
n. A feature supported by UNIX, ITS, and some other OSes that allows two or more logged-in users to set up a real-time on-line conversation. It combines the immediacy of talking with all the precision (and verbosity) that written language entails. It is difficult to communicate inflection, though conventions have arisen for some of these (see the section on writing style in the Prependices for details).
Talk mode has a special set of jargon words, used to save typing, which are not used orally. Some of these are identical to (and probably derived from) Morse-code jargon used by ham-radio amateurs since the 1920s.
BCNU be seeing you BTW by the way BYE? are you ready to unlink? (this is the standard way to end a talk-mode conversation; the other person types `BYE' to confirm, or else continues the conversation) CUL see you later ENQ? are you busy? (expects `ACK' or `NAK' in return) FOO? are you there? (often used on unexpected links, meaning also "Sorry if I butted in ..." (linker) or "What's up?" (linkee)) FYI for your information FYA for your amusement GA go ahead (used when two people have tried to type simultaneously; this cedes the right to type to the other) GRMBL grumble (expresses disquiet or disagreement) HELLOP hello? (an instance of the `-P' convention) JAM just a minute (equivalent to `SEC....') MIN same as `JAM' NIL no (see
) O over to you OO over and out / another form of "over to you" (from x/y as "x over y") \ lambda (used in discussing LISPy things) OBTW oh, by the way R U THERE? are you there? SEC wait a second (sometimes written `SEC...') T yes (see the main entry for
) TNX thanks TNX 1.0E6 thanks a million (humorous) TNXE6 another form of "thanks a million" WRT with regard to, or with respect to. WTF the universal interrogative particle; WTF knows what it means? WTH what the hell?
When the typing party has finished, he/she types two newlines to signal that he/she is done; this leaves a blank line between `speeches' in the conversation, making it easier to reread the preceding text.
When three or more terminals are linked, it is conventional for each typist to
his/her login name or handle and a colon (or a hyphen) to each line to indicate who is typing (some conferencing facilities do this automatically). The login name is often shortened to a unique prefix (possibly a single letter) during a very long conversation. /\/\/\ A giggle or chuckle. On a MUD, this usually means `earthquake fault'.
Most of the above sub-jargon is used at both Stanford and MIT. Several of these expressions are also common in
, esp. FYI, FYA, BTW, BCNU, WTF, and CUL. A few other abbreviations have been reported from commercial networks, such as GEnie and CompuServe, where on-line `live' chat including more than two people is common and usually involves a more `social' context, notably the following
grinning, running, and ducking BBL be back later BRB be right back HHOJ ha ha only joking HHOK ha ha only kidding HHOS
ha ha only serious
IMHO in my humble opinion (see
) LOL laughing out loud NHOH Never Heard of Him/Her (often used in
) ROTF rolling on the floor ROTFL rolling on the floor laughing AFK away from keyboard b4 before CU l8tr see you later MORF male or female? TTFN ta-ta for now TTYL talk to you later OIC oh, I see rehi hello again
Most of these are not used at universities or in the UNIX world, though ROTF and TTFN have gained some currency there and IMHO is common; conversely, most of the people who know these are unfamiliar with FOO?, BCNU, HELLOP,
community uses a mixture of USENET/Internet emoticons, a few of the more natural of the old-style talk-mode abbrevs, and some of the `social' list above; specifically, MUD respondents report use of BBL, BRB, LOL, b4, BTW, WTF, TTFN, and WTH. The use of `rehi' is also common; in fact, mudders are fond of re- compounds and will frequently `rehug' or `rebonk' (see
) people. The word `re' by itself is taken as `regreet'. In general, though, MUDders express a preference for typing things out in full rather than using abbreviations; this may be due to the relative youth of the MUD cultures, which tend to include many touch typists and to assume high-speed links. The following uses specific to MUDs are reported
UOK? are you OK? THX thanks (mutant of `TNX'; clearly this comes in batches of 1138 (the Lucasian K)). CU l8er see you later (mutant of `CU l8tr') OTT over the top (excessive, uncalled for) FOAD fuck off and die (use of this is often OTT)
isms (notably the variant spelling `d00d') appear to be passing into wider use among some subgroups of MUDders.
One final note on talk mode style neophytes, when in talk mode, often seem to think they must produce letter-perfect prose because they are typing rather than speaking. This is not the best approach. It can be very frustrating to wait while your partner pauses to think of a word, or repeatedly makes the same spelling error and backs up to fix it. It is usually best just to leave typographical errors behind and plunge forward, unless severe confusion may result; in that case it is often fastest just to type "xxx" and start over from before the mistake.