101 Explanations

As the online world has developed, we’ve also seen a rise in technical jargon. But what does it all mean? Tricia Holly Davis clears up the confusion

|-|3ll0. Don’t rub your eyes, readers: the opening word is not a gross oversight or the work of a crazed and overworked sub editor, but rather a very modern abbreviation for “Hello”.

In technical jargon, this is known as Leetspeak, the process of condensing words and phrases down to a few key, yet seemingly random, syllables or characters.

Popular with the saggy jean-wearing, MP3-blaring generation you loathe being stood next to on the tube, (but must accept because they’re the only ones who will know how to fix your laptop when Carl, the hippie IT guy, finally retires), Leetspeak is one of the terms Travolution chose for its 101 Explanations – a jargon buster for the online travel industry.

In our efforts to select and decipher some of the most frequently used jargon in the online travel world (trust us, we could’ve filled the Oxford English Dictionary 1,000 times over), we asked some of the industry’s leading companies, including Yahoo!, consumer travel websites, global reservations systems, Wikis and self-booking tools, for their input. Not surprisingly, many of the answers we received were a bit on the techy side, but we did appreciate the fact that some companies saw the humour in how much our lexicon has changed, courtesy of technology.

Amusing as some of the jargon is, fluency in it has become a prerequisite for successfully transacting business in today’s high-tech world. Geek-speak has gone mainstream, so, with that in mind, |-|4p3 r34Dn9 (that’s Leetspeak for “happy reading”).

Advanced Configuration and Power Interface specification is an open industry standard first released in December 1996. It defines common interfaces for hardware recognition, motherboard and device configuration and power management.

2 Adwords
Words advertisers pay to associate with their company. In the online world, advertisers pay for top placements on search engines. So, for instance, typing the word ‘flights’ into Yahoo! produces a top result for Cheapflights.co.uk.

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line is a form of DSL – a data communications technology that enables faster data transmission over copper telephone lines than a conventional modem can provide.

4 Affiliate
A commercial entity with a relationship with a peer or a larger entity. Affiliates can also be referred to as publishers.

5 Affiliate marketing
Refers to the e-commerce version of the traditional agent/referral fee sales channel concept. An e-commerce affiliate is a website that links back to an e-commerce site.

6 Ajax
Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, just like its acronym, Ajax, makes things a whole lot faster. The application remembers what was on your web page before you pressed a button on the browser. Instead of waiting for an entire new web page to load, you can view applications in real time. Online maps are an example of an application that uses Ajax. You are allowed to change views of the map in real time without waiting for the entire page to reload.

Application Programming Interface. Its primary purpose is to describe how computer applications and software developers may access a set of (usually third party) functions without requiring a detailed understanding of the functions’ internal workings.

An application service provider is a business that provides computer-based services to customers over a network. Software offered using an ASP model is also sometimes called On-demand software.

9 Avatars
 In Hindu philosophy, an avatar refers to the bodily manifestation of a higher being. In technology, this is accomplished via sophisticated graphics to portray a virtual image of a user.

10 Batch job
A batch job is a catch-all term for basically anything that runs on a particular schedule. Most often batch jobs run late at night performing maintenance, backing up data, etc. 

11 Berrycasting
Bid adieu to your co-workers! As if constant access to e-mail isn’t addictive enough, berrycasting takes Blackberry-aholics to a whole new realm of connected joy by offering you the ability to download video and audio content straight to your Blackberry.

12 Blog
Short for weblog, it is a type of website – such as our own Travolution.blogspot.com – where entries are displayed in a reverse chronological order and provide commentary or news on a particular subject. The word blog can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

Compact Disc, Read-Only-Memory. An adaptation of the CD, designed to store computer data in the form of text and graphics, as well as hi-fi stereo sound. The original data format standard was defined by Philips and Sony in the 1983 Yellow Book.

14 CGI
Common Gateway Interface is a standard protocol for interfacing external application software with an information server, commonly a web server. This allows the server to pass requests from a client web browser to the external application.

15 Click-through rate
A method of measuring the success of an online advertising campaign. A CTR is obtained by dividing the number of users who clicked on an ad on a web page by the number of times the ad was delivered. For example, if a banner ad is delivered 100 times and one person clicked on it, then the CTR would be 1%.

16 Click-per-call/pay-per-call
A similar concept to pay-per-click (PPC). However, in pay-per-call the advertiser receives a phonecall, usually initiated through a web form. Pay-per-call offers less vulnerability to fraud as the provider can block associated phone numbers.

17 Cookie
A term derived from fortune cookie, it is a small parcel of information stored on users’ computers by websites in order to uniquely identify the user across multiple sessions.

18 CPA
Cost per action is a phrase used in online advertising and online marketing circles referring to the optimal form of buying online advertising, from the advertiser’s point of view.

19 CPM
Characters per minute. Refers to how many characters one can type per minute.

20 Daemon
A little auto response program that typically runs as part of an e-mail system. It sends reminder messages such as “your message has been delivered”. A daemon could be a web server, a mail server or a database server.

21 Desktop alert
A downloadable tool that sits on a computer’s desktop and acts a messaging system for products and news.

22 DNS
An essential component of contemporary web use, the Domain Name System translates domain names (computer hostnames) to IP addresses. It also lists mail exchange servers accepting e-mail for each domain.

23 Dongle
The device that hangs off the back of your PC so you can connect it to various pieces of hardware.

24 Download
This can refer to any transfer of information, especially summarised information, analogous to a briefing.

25 Duplexing
The capability of a printer to print on both sides of the paper. A more tongue-and-cheek definition is the process by which someone asks for one thing when they actually mean something else.

26 E-commerce
Electronic commerce or EC is the buying and selling of goods and services on the Internet. In practice, this term and a newer term, e-business, are often used interchangeably. For online retail selling, the term e-tailing is sometimes used.

27 Emoticon
Also called a smiley, it is a sequence of ordinary printable characters, such as :-), ;o), ^_^ or :-(, or a small image, intended to represent a human facial expression and convey an emotion.

28 Firewire
A standard for very fast data transfer, popular for applications that use very large files, particularly video editing. Requires special hardware, generally added to a computer as an expansion card.

29 Flash
Refers to both the Adobe Flash Player and to a multimedia authoring program used to create content for the Adobe Engagement Platform (such as web applications, games and movies).

30 Flash memory
A form of non-volatile computer memory that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed.

31 Flickr
A photo management and sharing application. Flickr really kicked off the whole Web 2.0 move – concentrating on providing what the community wanted in a photo sharing and management application, and making the user interface intuitive to use. When it was bought by Yahoo!, its popularity increased even more, with the Yahoo! user base now having access to Flickr.

32 FTP
File Transfer Protocol is a commonly used protocol for exchanging files over any network that supports the TCP/IP protocol (such as the Internet or an intranet). There are two computers involved in a FTP transfer: a server and a client.

33 GDS
Global distribution systems, also known as computer reservation systems, are used to store and retrieve information and conduct transactions related to travel. Originally designed and operated by airlines, they were later extended to travel agents as a sales channel.

34 GPS
Global Positioning Systems broadcast precise timing signals by radio to GPS receivers, allowing them to accurately determine their location (longitude, latitude, and altitude) in any weather, day or night, anywhere on Earth.

35 Hashing
A computer algorithm used to categorise information. It’s like the Dewey Decimal System, although nobody under the age of 20 remembers the Dewey Decimal System anyway!

Handheld Device Mark-up Language. Often compared to Wireless Mark-up Language (WML), it is a language that allows the text portions of web pages to be presented on mobile telephones and PDAs via wireless access.

37 Hotspot
A location where a computer can connect to a wireless network and access the Internet.

38 Hot swapping
Otherwise known as hot plugging, it is the ability to remove and replace components of a computer, such as a USB device, while it is operating, eliminating the need to shut down and reboot the machine.

HyperText Mark-up Language was designed for the creation of web pages with hypertext and other information to be displayed in a web browser.

40 IP
Internet Protocol has become an industry standard and, although it was originally designed for wide area networks (WANs), it is now widely used on local area networks (LANs) as well.

Integrated Services Digital Network is a type of circuit switched telephone network system, designed to allow digital transmission of voice and data over ordinary telephone copper wires, resulting in better quality and higher speeds than analogue systems.

42 Java
Refers to a number of computer software products and specifications from Sun Microsystems (the Java technology) that together provide a system for developing and deploying cross-platform applications.

43 Joe
Spam e-mail apparently promoting a website that actually has nothing to do with it. Intended to get the owner of the website in trouble.

44 Jpeg
Joint Photographic Experts Group. Pronounced JAY-pehg, it is a term for any graphic image file produced by using a jpeg standard.

45 Killer app
A software application that is destined to dominate the industry. Modern history of the commercial web is littered with stories of failed ‘killer apps’ such as the iCat, which was supposed to scan barcodes of offline items and forever link the online world to the offline world. It had a scanner literally shaped like a cat.

46 LAN
A local area network is a computer network covering a small local area, such as a home or office, and is most likely to be based on switched Ethernet or Wi-Fi technology running at 10, 100 or 1,000 Mbit/s.

47 Landing page
A web page used frequently by advertisers to track the effectiveness of an ad. It’s the first page you’re asked to visit, and you’re either automatically redirected or asked to continue clicking links until you get the information you were looking for in the first place.

48 Leetspeak
Derived from the term ‘elite’, this is alphanumeric computer slang originally used by hackers and gamers. It is now being integrated into the mainstream.

49 Link rot
Have you ever clicked on a link and ended up nowhere? Then you know this link has rotted! It’s when nobody updates the link on the page, and it just becomes inactive and useless.

50 Lingubot
A toolkit for making websites understand natural language. For example, the Lingubot on Teletext-holidays.co.uk allows users to ask questions and it will send out a reply from a database of pre-determined and learned answers.

51 Locale
A set of parameters that defines the user’s language, country and any special preferences that the user wants to see in their user interface. Usually a locale identifier consists of at least a language identifier and a region identifier.

52 Lockup
An event which causes a computer to get stuck and refuse to operate. The computer is then said to be hung or locked up.

53 Malware
A catch-all term for software installed by stealth for malevolent purposes. These may include displaying unwanted ads (adware) and spying on your activities (spyware).
54 Mark-up language
Combines text and extra information about the text, such as its structure or presentation. The best-known mark-up language in modern use is HTML, one of the foundations of the web.

55 Mashup
Mashups are wacky but creative combinations of web content. Content is sourced from a public interface, API, web feed or javascript. Some map APIs have spawned a wide array of Web 2.0 sites offering services we can’t imagine we ever lived without.

56 Master/slave
Self explanatory: one X, where X is anything from a database to a hard drive is the master, and the slave follows exactly what the master does, typically replicating information from the master.

57 Meta search
A search engine that sends user requests to several other search engines and/or databases and returns the results from each one. They allow users to enter their search criteria only one time and access several search engines simultaneously.

Multi-purpose Internet Mail Extension. An encoding system mainly used to send e-mail attachments. E-mail was originally designed to use plain text, so programmes and graphics need an escort for e-mail systems to be able to send them.

59 MPU
Message Plus Unit is a form of web advertising, usually in the form of a web banner. It is intended to attract traffic to a website by linking browsers to the website of the advertiser.

60 New media
A relatively new field of study that has developed around cultural practices, with the computer playing a central role as the medium for production, storage and distribution.

61 NMA
Non-Maskable Interrupt is used in the event of non-recoverable hardware errors, methods for system debugging and system resets.

62 Pay per click
A method of charging for advertising on the Internet. Also known as cost per click. Depending on the search engine, minimum pay-per-click charges range from 1p to 25p.

63 PBX
Private Branch Exchange is a telephone system within an enterprise that switches calls between enterprise users on local lines while allowing all users to share a certain number of external phone lines. The main purpose of a PBX is to save the cost of requiring a line for each user to the telephone company’s central office.

64 PDA
Personal digital assistants are handheld devices originally designed as personal organisers, but they have become much more versatile over the years. Many PDAs can access the Internet, intranets or extranets via Wi-Fi, or wireless wide area networks.

65 PDF
A Portable Document Format encapsulates a complete description of a 2-D document (and, with the advent of Acrobat 3-D, embedded 3-D documents) that includes the text, fonts, images, and 2-D vector graphics.

66 Peer-to-peer
A type of network where computers are connected together directly, rather than via a server, allowing them to access each other’s hard disk.

67 Plug and play
Allows the addition of a new device without requiring reconfiguration or manual installation of device drivers. Unlike with hot swapping, the computer must be turned off before installing a PnP device into an expansion slot.

68 Portal
Sites on the web that typically provide personalised capabilities to their visitors. They are designed to use distributed applications, different numbers and types of middleware and hardware to provide services from a number of different sources.

69 Price comparison site
An online, classified listings service, (eg Cheapflights) where advertisers can promote products and, typically for a travel site, users can search for offers based on cost, destination or route.

70 RAS
Remote Access Server refers to any combination of hardware and software to enable the remote access to tools or information that typically reside on a network of IT devices.

71 RFI
A Request for Information is a document that is issued by a company or government to a wide group of potential suppliers to enable them to register an interest in becoming a preferred supplier for the project.

72 ROI
Return on Investment is a frequently used term to measure the benefits (either tangible monetary gain or intangible increased public recognition) of investing one’s time and/or money. It is used in the travel industry to measure the benefits of web advertising.

73 RSS
A family of data feeds delivered as an XML file (called an RSS feed, web feed, RSS stream, or RSS channel) that provide a way for users to receive content such as text, web pages, sound files, or other media.

74 Search engine marketing
Search engine marketing is a set of marketing methods to increase the visibility of a website in search engine results pages (SERPs). The three main methods include search engine optimisation (see SEO); search engine advertising (aka pay per click); and paid inclusion.

75 Search engine optimisation
Search engine optimisation is a set of methods aimed at improving the ranking of a website in search engine listings. The term SEO also refers to ‘search engine optimisers’, an industry of consultants who carry out optimisation projects on behalf of customers’ websites.

76 Shock wave
Created by Macromedia Inc, it is an application used for creating animations, games, sound and various special effects on a web page.

77 SLA
A service level agreement is a formal written agreement between the service provider and the service recipient and a core concept of IT service management. SLAs are most common for the provision of IT services, particularly Internet services.

78 Social bookmarking
Concept used by aggregator websites to find, classify, score and rank content on other sites. Mainstay of sites such as Digg, Reddit and Del.icio.us.

79 Tagging
The process of adding a number of brief, additional descriptors to websites, blog entries, or photos to make it more easily discoverable via search. The more specific the tags, the greater the odds of discoverability.

80 TCP
Transmission Control Protocol is one of the core protocols of the Using TCP, applications on networked hosts can create connections to one another, over which they can exchange data in packets. The protocol guarantees reliable and in-order delivery of data from sender to receiver.

81 Threat assessment chart
A means of measuring the danger posed by malicious software, such as spyware, and designed to intercept or take partial control of a computer’s operation.

82 Top level domain name
The last part of an Internet domain name – that is, the letters which follow the final dot of any domain name (eg com). The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) currently classifies top-level domains into three types: country code top-level domains; generic top-level domain; and infrastructure top-level domain.

83 Trackback
When you post to your blog, and quote another person’s blog post, the trackback tells the other person’s blog that you have linked to them automatically. It’s an automatic way of letting people know that you are talking about something that may interest them.

84 Trojan
Taken from the phrase ‘Trojan Horse’, it refers to a programme that is disguised as something harmless, such as a game, but once launched sabotages the computer on which it is running.

85 Upload
The process of sending data from a local system to a remote system.

86 URL
A frequently used term to describe an Internet domain name.

87 USB
Universal Serial Bus has become the standard method to connect computers to peripherals, such as mouse devices, keyboards, and printers. No more than 127 devices may be connected to a single host controller.

88 User-generated content
Refers to online content that is produced by users of websites, as opposed to traditional media producers such as broadcasters and production companies. These include digital video, blogging, podcasting, mobile phone photography and wikis.

89 Vertical search
A search engine with context. Next generation of search tools that are designed to allow users to find products and services within a particular field, such as travel.

90 Viewdata
A way of receiving digital information at a distance and displaying it on a screen (eg Teletext). The original specification defined various stages that led the way from rather chunky and blocky graphics to high-quality photographic images.

91 VoIP
Voice over Internet Protocol, (pronounced “vee-oh-eye-pee) is a free or reduced rate phone service that can be used from anywhere in the world.

92 VPN
Virtual Private Network is a private communications network often used within a company, or by several different companies or organisations, to communicate confidentially over a publicly accessible network.

93 WAN
Wide area network is a computer network covering a geographical area, involving a vast array of computers. WANs are used to connect (LANs) together, so that users and computers in one place can communicate with users and computers in other locations.

94 Wave
A computer sound recording. These files tend to be quite large, so sound recordings are often compressed into MP3s on the Internet, giving a slightly lower quality but producing much smaller files.

95 Web 2.0
Coined by O’Reilly Media to refer to a supposed second generation of Internet-based services that let people collaborate and share information online in a new way – such as social networking sites, wikis, communication tools, and folksonomies.

97 Wi-Fi
A brand originally licensed by the Wi-Fi Alliance to describe the underlying technology of wireless local area networks (WLAN) and intended to be used for mobile computing devices.

98 Wiki
A website that can be easily updated and maintained by anyone who uses it. Normally, a website is protected, and only authorised people can make changes, but the goal of a Wiki is to do exactly the opposite. The best known example of a Wiki is Wikipedia.org, an entire encyclopaedia built and maintained by its user community.

99 XML
The Extensible Mark-up Language is a W3C-recommended general-purpose mark-up language for creating special-purpose mark-up languages, capable of describing many different kinds of data.

100 Yahoo! Search Marketing
An ad serving programme run by Yahoo! Website owners can enrol in this programme to enable text advertisements on their sites. These ads are administered by YSM (formerly Overture) and generate revenue on either a per-click or per-thousand-impressions basis. Google has its own AdSense programme.


101 Travolution
B2B media brand specialising in the online travel industry and emerging distribution channels. Sister paper of trade bible Travel Weekly and published by Reed Business Information. Launched in November 2005, comprising a bi-monthly magazine, a website, blog and events programme.

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