[from the submariners' term for a sonar pulse] 1. n.
Slang term for a small network message (ICMP ECHO) sent by a
computer to check for the presence and alertness of another. The
Unix command ping(8) can be used to do this manually (note
that ping(8)'s author denies the widespread folk etymology
that the name was ever intended as acronym for `Packet INternet
Groper'). Occasionally used as a phone greeting. See ACK,
also ENQ. 2. vt. To verify the presence of. 3. vt. To get
the attention of. 4. vt. To send a message to all members of a
mailing list requesting an ACK (in order to verify that
everybody's addresses are reachable). "We haven't heard much of
anything from Geoff, but he did respond with an ACK both times I
pinged jargon-friends." 5. n. A quantum packet of happiness.
People who are very happy tend to exude pings; furthermore, one can
intentionally create pings and aim them at a needy party (e.g., a
depressed person). This sense of ping may appear as an
exclamation; "Ping!" (I'm happy; I am emitting a quantum of
happiness; I have been struck by a quantum of happiness). The form
"pingfulness", which is used to describe people who exude pings,
also occurs. (In the standard abuse of language, "pingfulness"
can also be used as an exclamation, in which case it's a much
stronger exclamation than just "ping"!). Oppose blargh.
The funniest use of `ping' to date was described in January 1991 by
Steve Hayman on the Usenet group comp.sys.next. He was trying
to isolate a faulty cable segment on a TCP/IP Ethernet hooked up to
a NeXT machine, and got tired of having to run back to his console
after each cabling tweak to see if the ping packets were getting
through. So he used the sound-recording feature on the NeXT, then
wrote a script that repeatedly invoked ping(8), listened for
an echo, and played back the recording on each returned packet.
Result? A program that caused the machine to repeat, over and
over, "Ping ... ping ... ping ..." as long as the
network was up. He turned the volume to maximum, ferreted through
the building with one ear cocked, and found a faulty tee connector
in no time.