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Wednesday, January 25, 2023

What is an octothorpe? Cool tech words and computer science slang – TheServerSide.com

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The technology field is ripe with peculiar acronyms, vendor names and abbreviations.
To compound the confusion, software engineers often develop their own computer science slang as they assign esoteric names to commonly used symbols, terms and character combinations.
Here’s a list of the 11 cool tech words every software engineer should know before they jump onto their first software project:
Developers will often compare two values and respond to a true or false result. But what if a comparison could generate three conditions rather than two?
For example, if a developer compares two numbers:
The spaceship operator will return one of three values, -1, 0 or +1, when used to compare two values.
The spaceship operator makes code more succinct and helps developers avoid the pyramid of doom.
The pyramid of doom occurs when a developer nests too many conditional if statements inside of each other.
The logic in a pyramid of doom is hard to maintain and error prone when updated by fellow developers.
A pyramid of doom can be refactored in a variety of ways. One way is to use the spaceship operator. Another is to use the safe navigator.
A developer will use the safe navigator to avoid null pointer exceptions.
car?.goFast();
The safe navigator will check the first argument listed to see if it is null. If it is null, a null value is returned. If it is non-null, properties of the non-null object will be invoked safely without an exception being thrown.
In the above example, if the car object is not initialized, the operation will return null. If the car object is not null, the goFast() method gets safely invoked.
Another way to clean up a small pyramid of doom is to use the Elvis operator.
Also known as the conditional operator or the ternary operator, the Elvis operator will compare two values, return the value after the question mark if true, and return the second value if false.
The reason this is called the Elvis operator is if you turn it 90 degrees, the curve of the question mark is supposed to look like Elvis’ hair falling above his eyes.
And as a side note, sometimes you may hear the question mark referred to as a ‘hook.’

Most languages assign logic to a lambda expression through the use of a fat arrow (=>) or a skinny arrow (->)
In an effort to avoid body shaming arrows, the fat arrow is now commonly referred to as the rocket ship.
Here’s an example of the rocket ship in action:
Java 5 introduced the concept of generics.
To reduce the verbosity of generics, Java 7 introduced the diamond operator.
The diamond operator copies the generic type defined on the left of an assignment to the generic type on the right, without the need for the developer to type the generic type out a second time.
The exclamation mark is used throughout the world of both programming and Unix based system administration.
But it’s not always called an exclamation mark. You will often hear it referred to as a ‘bang!’
When you wish to flip a Boolean value, you put an exclamation mark before it, or ‘bang it.’
Similarly, in Unix, the syntax that kicks of a shell script, #!,  is referred to as a hash bang.
A shell script in Unix starts with a hash sign and an exclamation mark, or what is often referred to as a ‘bang’ operator. So this combination is known as a ‘hash bang.’
Said lazily enough, the ‘ha’ sound falls off the word hash, and you are left with sh-bang. Which eventually morphed into ‘shebang.’
To avoid a #metoo moment, it would probably be best to think of this as shhh-bang rather than shebang.
While the proper term for the ‘and sign’ is the ampersand, there doesn’t seem to be a commonly accepted name for the ‘at sign.’ People just call it the ‘at sign.’
In some technical circles, developers who prefer to use a more colorful vocabulary will call the ‘at sign’ the monkeytail.
“The Dutch really do call it a monkey tail”, says Deon Blaauw, a Managing Director with ViSight B.V. “We call it an ‘apenstaartje’, which literally translates to monkey tail.”
The asterisk is used for multiplication in programming languages like Java and Python. It’s also used as a wildcard in SQL statements and RegEx expressions.
Some people have a hard time pronouncing the dual ‘s’ sounds in asterisk and prefer to use an alternative.
The most commonly used alternative to asterisk is ‘bug splat,’ or just ‘splat’ for short.
“The asterisk (*) is also known as the universal globbing character, or the globbing wildcard, meaning it can be ‘anything’”, says Marc Pullan, an IT Consultant in the Health Care field. “Its ascii value is 42, which according to Douglas Adams, is the answer to life, the world, and everything.”
While there seems to be general disagreement of the official name for the ‘at sign’, the number sign seems to have many.
For some unknown reason, there has been a trend in the industry to refer to this as an octothorpe, with octo being a reference to the eight points on the symbol, and ‘thorpe’ just being a way to make people smile when they say it.
Every industry evolves to create a set of terms and phrases that esoterically describe the common functions, tools and technologies they use. Hopefully knowledge of these 11 weird technical terms will help you feel more comfortable with the unusual language people in the IT industry speak

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