Tag Archives: tattoos

The ForkBomb Tattoo

This doesn't count for much, but I think this is one of the cleverest, geekiest, most elegant tattoos I've ever seen. Carving an Apple, Cisco or Nike Logo onto your body? That's really quite sad. But this is something different:

Why do I like it?

I think it's about as attractive as a code type tattoo is going to get

The proportions are well balanced, and there's a nice visual rhythm in there - this is largely down to the choice Bitstream Sans Mono, the typeface used for this. This typeface is a well loved font in programmer circles, who spend hours staring at monospace fonts - a lovely touch.

It's actually executable code

This particular incantation has its own story too - this cryptic combination of symbols is a working example of a forkbomb, and was presented as a piece of open source art back in 2002, by Denis Jaromil Rojo, an Italian Rastafarian developer and media activist now residing in Amsterdam. A forkbomb is a piece of self replicating code that when called, start forking itself relentlessly, until it consumes all the resources on a computer system, rendering it unusable.

For the terminally curious, here's how it works:

:()      # define ':' -- whenever we say ':', do this:
{        # beginning of what to do when we say ':'
    :    # load another copy of the ':' function into memory...
    |    # ...and pipe its output to...
    :    # ...another copy of ':' function, which has to be loaded into memory
         # (therefore, ':|:' simply gets two copies of ':' loaded whenever ':' is called)
    &    # disown the functions -- if the first ':' is killed,
         #     all of the functions that it has started should NOT be auto-killed
}        # end of what to do when we say ':'
;        # Having defined ':', we should now...
:        # ...call ':', initiating a chain-reaction: each ':' will start two more.

More on Forkbombs here.