Friday, 15 September 2000

Newsletter Issue 11, September 2000

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 11, September 2000
Hi guys,
Through some reading that I have been doing lately, and from talking to some clients, I have become quite fascinated by the English language; mainly internet & technology impacts on our communication.
I have suddenly realised how many TLAs we use (Three Letter Acronyms). I think this is partly due to how difficult it is to find simple words for the number of new things.. so we call 'em "long" and TLA them. This newsletter includes a list of the more common ones with their actual names and (in most cases) short definitions.
Also this issue looks at the rise and use of "@". There is a bit of interesting history in this (and hey, most of you think that I am a major computer nerd anyway, so why not reinforce it!). Check out TLAs for SMEs below and Commercial At - Us@earth.uni
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TLAs for SMEs

Yup, TLAs have permeated our lives. Terms like WAP, RAM, ROM, GPS, ABS ad nauseam trip off our tongues just like we know what we are really talking about!
And then there are the FLAs (4 letter acronyms)... 
Following is a list of the more common T&FLAs, and the ones that I have come across recently. If there are any that you think are incorrect, let me know - or if you have any to add (then I can save them up and put them into 
  • html, htm, HyperText Markup Language (Universal), HyperText Markup (Microsoft). Web/Internet code for pages
  • http, HyperText Transport Protocol. For moving hypertext files across the Internet
  • URL, Uniform Resource Locator. The standard way to give the address of any Internet resource that is part of the www
  • ftp, File Transfer Protocol. These are all the sites that read as numbers in the address bar
  • www, World Wide Web... what makes up the internet!
  • ISP, Internet Service Provider. The organisation that you pay (or don't pay these days!) who hosts your access to the internet
  • TCP/IP, Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol is a set of networking protocols; royalty-free and the most common in use on the www
  • Bps, Bits per second. Your connection & modem efficiency (if you have a 56.6K modem, you can transmit/receive up to 56600 Bps)... Kps, Kilobytes per second
  • Tb, Terabyte. 1000 Gb.... Gb, Gigabyte. 1000 Mb... Mb, Megabyte. 1000 Kb... Kb, Kilobytes. 1000 bytes!
  • BBS, Electronic Bulletin Board System. Usually on an intranet (internal company website, behind their firewall)
  • BOT, Short for Robot. Usually applications that go off & do things like search engines (NetBots) 
  • ASL, Age Sex Location. Used by unspeedy typists to ask questions in chatrooms
  • IT, Information Techology... IS, Information Systems
  • WAP, Wireless Application Protocol. This is the funky new techno-toy for phones, so that you can access the internet.. and this goes hand-in-hand with Bluetooth technology - see the back issues for stuff about Project Oxygen
  • VOIP, Voice Over Internet Protocol. Phone connection through a website, using your PC speakers and microphone
  • TAPI, Telephony Applications Programming Interface. A method for applications to work with modems, not dealing directly with the modem hardware
  • MAPI, Messaging Application Programming Interface. A Microsoft Windows system that enables different email applications to work together 
  • DVD, Digital Versatile Disc. The new replacement player or disc for video, software storage etc 
  • AVI, video file format
  • MP3, MPEG audio Layer-3. Music files that are so good - and are about 5 Mb per track... WAV, Audio. These are 8.2 times bigger than MP3 files but you can write them straight to CD without conversion software
  • The following are all graphics file formats - JPEG (JPG for PC, JPE for Mac), Joint Photographic Expert Group... GIF, Graphics Interchange Format... TIF, Tagged Image File Format... BMP, Bitmap
  • DPI, Dots per inch. Used for measuring graphics resolution 
  • ASCII, American Standard Code for Information Interchange. This a transfer language for use in copying information from one application to another with no formatting
  • DOS, Disc Operating System. The old black or "green screen" environment we all used before windows (and still use underneath windows!)
  • RAM, Random Access Memory. Usually 128Mb these days (my first PC had a 1 Mb HARD DRIVE! The RAM was probably about .2!)
  • ROM, Read Only Memory. Your PC has one for booting up (your PC BIOS - Basic Input/Output System). Commercial CDs are usually Read Only
  • MFD, Multi-functional Device. Phone on which you can access the internet as well as play games, use as an alarm clock and has a GPS built-in
  • LCD, Liquid Crystal Display. Panels in watches, phones, scales.. probably about to go in toasters!
  • PDA, Personal Digital Organiser
  • GSM, Global Standard for Mobile Communications
  • GPS, Global Positioning Satellite. Used for tracking anything with a transponder - your phone, watch, vessels, cars etc through radio frequency
  • AUP, Acceptable Use Policy. Either from your software manufacturer or your employer
  • SME, Small & Medium-sized Entities or Enterprises. Businesses with less than 100 employees usually
  • FDI, Foreign Direct Investment. Dosh people from overseas invest directly into your country
  • GDP, Gross Domestic Product. What your country makes internally each year
  • GBP, Great Britain Pounds... NZD, New Zealand Dollars.... USD, USA Dollars...  AUD, Australian Dollars...  JPY, Japanese Yen etc etc
  • ITO, Industry Training Provider
  • CFO, Chief Financial Officer...  CEO, Chief Executive Officer
  • ERB, Employment Relations Bill... ERA, Employment Relations Act
  • HSE, Health & Safety in Employment Act
  • CBD, Central Business District
  • B2B, Business to Business... B2E, Business to Employee... 
  • DDI, Direct Dial In. Your way of avoiding the receptionist
  • MTV, No - not what you thought! Management Through Values. The new great management toy (basically it means treating others as you would like to be treated. Not exactly rocket-science, is it!)
  • AKA, Also Known As
  • BWQ, Buzz Word Quotient!
One thing that really annoys me is those people who write a TLA plural with an apostrophe before the plural "s"!!! Plurals are GPSs not GPS's (unless you are talking about something that is attached to the GPS, of course). My Mother has conditioned me well. I always think "WHAT does the GPS own?" However, I am probably somewhat old-fashioned in that one respect... and I am a grammar-hypocryte as I have no problems putting a comma before an "and"!
Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.


The use of the ubiqitous @ has taken off like the moon launch. Along similar lines is the adoption of the "e" electronic words - eBusiness, eCommerce, eTailing, eTrends.
But where does that @ come from? Well, I did some reading, and I was surprised by how old that wee symbol is. I didn't even know the correct name for that symbol (my old dragon of a typing teacher would be even crosser with me if she read this). So read on...
The “@” symbol - at more than 500 years old - has become the emblem of the eAge; the pivot of every internet email address and the tail adopted to add Net flavour to brands and trademarks.

The Guardian recently reported on research by Italian academic Giorgio Stabile. Giorgio's research shows that @ was created as an indication of weight or volume. He says that the first known use is in a letter describing the arrival of three ships bearing goods from South America to Italy. The @ sign (the tail is typical of mercantile writing style) represents an amphora, a capacity measure based on terracotta jars. 

The @ filtered to northern Europe via trade routes where it became accounting shorthand for "at the price of"… then it went onto typewriters at the beginning of the 20th century and from there was transferred to keyboards with the PC revolution.

However, the poor old @ wasn’t being used much on keyboards (when could Accountants type?!). It's break came when Ray Tomlinson, an American engineer and one of the group who created ARPAnet – now the Internet- completed email software. Ray had to pick a character to divide the user name from the domain information, chose @ because it wouldn't be found in a person's name.

And what do we call it? Well, the Spaniards call @ “arroba” (a 16th century weight/measure - 25 pounds/six gallons). Italian internet users call @ la chiocciola - the snail. And we English-speakers? “Commercial at”. How exciting.

We have Tildes (~), we have Umlauts (the two dot thingys on the top of a letter - ä), we have circumflexes (little hats on top of a letter -  ê) and macrons (lines above a letter – ē). Why can’t we have a flash name for @?

 Suggestions? I like ArrrrrrrOba. Or what about Amphora? That’s where @ came from after all. From a big jar of wine. Mmm....

Short+Hot Keys... and now tips
This time we have some easy shortcuts for formatting in MS programmes using the control key and...;
  • Universal Underline toggle (wax on, wax off, wax on!) CTRL & u 
  • Universal italics toggle CTRL & i 
  • Universal bold toggle CTRL & b 
  • Universal close document or window CTRL & w 
  • Universal undo last action CTRL & z 
  • Universal repeat last action CTRL & y
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