GOOGLE SEO: What are the SEO trends in 2017?

London, UNITED KINGDOM
MEHFUZ HUSSAIN (writer) with VIJAY SHAH (editor)

 

This article was written by Mehfuz Hussain, a digital marketing specialist based in London with expertise in online marketing concepts and Google Analytics.

Search Engine Optimisation has seen many changes in 2016 thanks to Google. From the launch of its ambitious AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) Project in February 2016, Google has shaken up the way traditional SEO worked. Understandably, Google knows well that the best way to dominate the industry is to be aware of how search engines are changing, and strategising SEO and content techniques accordingly. The world of SEO continues to evolve at high speed. While some SEO techniques have been a staple for several years, there will be many new ones that you will have to pay attention to. Here are some of the game-changing trends to help you stay ahead this year.

 

Photo credit: BigOakInc.com

 

1. Mobile-first Approach by Businesses

With ongoing improvements in the mobile computing field, browsing on mobiles has become equivalent to desktop browsing if not more In many countries, mobile browsing is more popular and dominant than via traditional desktops and laptops. In the last few years, the plethora of new smartphones with internet capabilities has changed the way search engine look at them. Remember Mobilegeddon?

A few months ago, Google said, “To improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.” This influenced their latest search algorithm which prioritised ‘responsive’ websites at the cost of older, mobile-unfriendly sites.

So, in 2017, your top priority is to separate your desktop and mobile measurement plans to account for the fundamental differences between mobile and desktop behaviour.

 

2. Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and Google Rank Brain

There is no doubt, Google’s main focus in 2017 is on Artificial Intelligence. If you followed the Google I/O event 2016, most announcements were related to AI. Google also said that the speech recognition errors have reduced from 25 to 8 percent. It’s been officially named Google’s third-most important ranking factor. Voice search will grow even more in 2017, with better voice recognition and understanding.

 

3. Infographics

Infographics make complex information eye-catching, shareable and easily digestible. An image coupled with information tends to stay in the minds of readers. Such content generates more social shares and also generates leads. Of course, your content should also be suitable enough to add Infographics to it, and they can really make it pop.

 

4. AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) takes centre stage

A great way to ensure better user experience is switching over to Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). More brands are using this option as Google also has begun to favour the use of AMP. It contains three sections – AMP HTML, AMP JS, and Google AMP Cache. Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) allows websites to make pages equipped for loading right away onto mobile screens. Interestingly, sites that have switched over to AMP are given more visibility with a special icon in Google searches.

 

 

5. Branding gets personal

There is no denying the power of personal branding. If used strategically, it can be a powerful tool in ensuring the success of SEO campaigns. Even social media platforms like Facebook refine their algorithms to favour individual posts over branded posts. Also, once you have a personal brand in place, it gets much easier to boost user trust and engagement. This, in turn, will up the traffic to your site.

 

6. HTTPS Everywhere

Google has inducted https as a ranking factor in its algorithm. Since then many companies hurriedly made the transition from HTTP to HTTPS in order to protect their own and their users’ privacy. It helps even more if there is money transactions happening on the website (e-commerce) and gives consumers extra confidence about their privacy. Let’s expect more websites switching to HTTPS than ever before in the history of the Web.

 

7. Focus on Content Curation

Though many people do not realise it, content marketing and SEO needs to work together for better results and visibility. Include all types of content in the mix: press releases and newsletters as well as articles and blog posts. A good content mix will help you increase backlinks on authority websites and establish you as an expert in your field. This strategy will help you boost your business to the top of Google’s SERPs.

 

2017 will see a massive hike in Internet usage. People are more concerned about the content they read. Now is the right time to prepare a well-developed strategy to survive in the market and beat the competition. As an SEO marketer, you have to be prepared for changes. Keep an close eye on SEO trends in 2017. All the best everyone!

 

IMAGE CREDITS:
“Google SEO Magnifying Glass” – BigOakFlickr, Flickr (1 July 2016) https://www.flickr.com/photos/31682982@N03/27940989741
“Free illustration: Seo, Web Page, Responsive – Free Image on Pixabay – 2016484” – Templune, pixabay https://pixabay.com/en/seo-web-page-responsive-web-design-2016484/
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LIAM GIBBONS: The funky light show experiment

 

The above video is of a GIF posted on Twitter by Liam Gibbons, a game maker and writer currently living in Melbourne, Australia. This special ‘funky light show’ as he calls it, features an assortment of differently-sized cubes and cuboids, five of which give off coloured light in a strictly defined pattern. The show responds to both mouse clicks and its own internal environment. Gibbons shared this as part of Twitter’s ‘Screenshot Saturday’ event, where game developers and CGI designers tweet snippets of their latest projects.

It is an interesting video, and not just in terms of the technology. From a perspective of aesthetics, the experiment is very calming and ordered and the flashes of different colours add a fun and funky vibe to Gibbons’ work.

Liam Gibbons has a background in game design and carries out both 2D and 3D projects with ease. His focus is on  level design, environment design and virtual architecture. As a writer, Gibbons had been published by several games and CGI design publications including Unwinnable, Kill Screen, and Overland. Previous projects he has worked include ‘Take That Ya Lousy Dimension’, ‘Looking Back’, ‘Broken Space’, ‘Sais Quest’, ‘Metaheroes’ and ‘Shades Desending’.

If you have a slow connection, please allow a few seconds for the video to show on your screen, and then click the blue and white play button.

www.liamgibbons.com

SOURCES:
interactive storytelling, ICIDS, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/icids/lists/interactive-storytelling
GameDevBRbot, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/GameDevBRbot
Liam Gibbons, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Liam__Gibbons
“About” – Liam Gibbons http://www.liamgibbons.com/
“Projects” – Liam Gibbons http://www.liamgibbons.com/projects/

DIWALI 2015: New HEM festive graphic unveiled

In celebration of the festival of lights, Diwali, which arrives this year on the Wednesday, 11th of November and which coincides with Armistice Day in the UK, the Half-Eaten Mind has unveiled a special commemorative graphic.

The graphic is part of a long tradition on the blog for what is termed in the business as ‘homemade graphics’. Every Diwali since 2013, HEM’s blogger and editor Vijay Shah uses his graphic designs skills to produce special edition graphics which serve as not only a bit of fun and celebration, but also as a tip of the hat to the talent that goes on behind the scenes.

This year’s image is derived from a wallpaper offered by HappyDiwaliGreetings.in and created via image design site piZap. It features three symmetrical and stylised diyas (lamps) arranged over Paisley patterns in a nod to traditional north Indian art. The design carries the official HEM branding as well as a QR code which when scanned with a suitable app on a mobile phone, can take the viewer to the blog.

The graphic will be featured on the HEM social networks nearer the occasion.

The Half-Eaten Mind would like to wish our readers, supporters and the Community a very happy Diwali in advance.

IMAGE CREDITS:
“Beautiful HD Happy Diwali Greetings Images of Diyas” – Celebrate Diwali With Us/Kopasoft (14 August 2015) http://happydiwaligreetings.in/beautiful-hd-happy-diwali-greetings-images-of-diyas.html
“Vector – Pattern” – CanStockPhoto/Can Stock Photo Inc. http://www.canstockphoto.com/pattern-7404553.html
piZap http://pizap.com/

HEM GRAPHICS: Our new portfolio website

Last night, we decided to visit the Internet for an end of day jaunt….and came back with an awesome souvenir….a brand new website.

Introducing to you our latest presence on the web, a slick, contemporary and attractive portfolio website, known as HEM Graphics’.

The purpose of the website is to act as a portfolio for the images and graphics I have created for this blog over the past three years, including our famous header images and idents created for individual pages. In addition, HEM Graphics will also serve as a depository for images from contributors and for interesting GIFs that have been featured on the Half-Eaten Mind, such as those in our Diwali specials and the recent forum flag icons I have been blogging about on our Animated ccTLD flags series (the Virtual Vexillology articles).

The website was created using Weebly, a free website-hosting service with a unique drag-and-drop approach to making webpages. Weebly was set-up in 2006 by three university students as part of an internet portfolio project and by 2012 had 20 million users and was receiving 1 million unique visitors per month.

 

HEM Graphics Weebly pizap.com14330233749031

 

 

Although I am quite good with computers, I had very little website design or formatting experience, so I found Weebly a relief in that they pretty much make things stupidly easy for you. You begin by choosing a site URL (address), which for the free version always ends in ‘.weebly.com’, then you choose a template, and after that is registered, you can begin customising your site’s appearance with text, titles, images and even Flash/HTML widgets.

The HEM Graphics site has a minimalist vibe in order to make the graphics I will be featuring on it more prominent and noticeable. Unusually for a website the page menu and blog logo are on the left hand side, and just like the blog, the header image is of that famous dawn photo of the tower blocks in Plaistow, London I took years back in 2007.

The website is still in the development stage, but so far I have made some astonishing progress in the hour or so I spent setting everything up. I have organised the home, about and contact pages and also uploaded all my ‘homemade’ graphics to a dedicated page for them. I also made some time to add some fun functionality to the place, installing a revolving globe from RevolverMaps that records visitor locations and a clock widget to make things business-like.

I am also moving the links to the two Paper.li e-newsletters along with this new site to a dedicated page on the blog, provisionally titled ‘HEM Links’.

The new website can be viewed at :-

http://hemgraphics.weebly.com/

Let me know in the comments section what you think, and any suggestions or improvements you may have. If you are a Weebly user yourself, what were your impressions of the site and its usability?

 

HEM 3rd anniversary banner pizap.com14293560242241

 

ADDITIONAL SOURCES:
“Weebly” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weebly
IMAGE CREDITS:
piZap http://pizap.com/
“Showing (20) Pics For (Blue Fading Background Tumblr)…” – pixshark.com http://pixshark.com/blue-fading-background-tumblr.htm

VIRTUAL VEXILLOLOGY: Animated world flags with TLDs (Part 1 – North America)

HEM Animated ccTLD Flags Ident pizap.com14318621928841

For every country, and indeed many various territories, dependencies, states, provinces etc. one of the most important elements of self-representation, self-recognition and identity is a humble piece of cloth. The flag, for governments and patriots alike, is more than that though. It is a symbol of their identity, replete with symbolism, sacrifice and values. Many flags have become well-known enough that even the most geographically challenged can match the national flag to the nation it flies under. Everyone knows the Union Flag (Union Jack) is for Britain, the Tricouleur represents France, and the Star-Spangled Banner flutters over the States.

A few years ago, one enterprising graphic designer decided to make full use of the internet’s awesome superpowers and marry the thousand-year old tradition of the flag with a very recent innovation – the top-level domain – to produce a set of virtual animated flags.

A top-level domain is essentially a part of a website’s address, or URL, which identifies a website’s host origin or its function. For example, .com means that the site is engaged in commerce (usually), while .ac (or .edu in the US) means an educational institution.

Top-level domains with a regional flavour are used to represent the hosting nation of a website where that site would be registered. For example, .uk would be for a site registered in the United Kingdom, while a site URL ending in .mu means that the site is based on a Mauritian server.

(c) Wikipedia

These regional domains are officially known as ccTLDs (country code top-level domains). They are generally used or reserved for a country, a sovereign state, or a dependent territory. They are always two letters long and usually are formed from letters in the country’s name, though not always the one in English. While .us is for the United States and .in is for India, Algeria’s ccTLD is .dz (Al-Djazair) and Switzerland’s one is .ch (for its full Latin name, Confœrderatio Helvetica).

The first registered ccTLDs to come into service were .us, .uk, and .il, all registered in 1985. In 1986, .au, .de, .fi, .fr, .jp, .kr, .nl and .se were registered. This was long before the Internet as we now it even came into being.

The story behind these animated flags is shrouded in the depths of mystery. The only solid lead I could find from my research was on a forum post from Forumotion, a company which offers forum setup and development services. A member of Forumotion’s staff, nicknamed Hancki, who also moonlighted there as a forum helper, started a thread in which he/she showed off some animated flags they had allegedly made. They made no comment on how or even if they did create the ccTLD flag GIFs but the other forum participants loved them and thought they were great.

That first selection of little waving flags appeared in April of 2010, and since then have become hot property for forum lovers and gamers looking to add some patriotic sparkle to their signatures. Numerous forum owners from Pakistan to the States have snapped them up, and now for the first time, the Half-Eaten Mind has brought them together in one place, free for use to represent your homeland.

With the help of a list of ccTLDs provided by Wikipedia and another source, I found other forums that had these distinctive animated flags, and by changing the part of the forum’s URL with the country name or ccTLD, was able to collect a flag of nearly every country and territory on Earth. It was just like FlagCounter, only with more fluttering.

To celebrate the amazing design of these flags, the Half-Eaten Mind is producing a special series of articles showcasing the flags of the world’s nations, with their relevant ccTLD. Due to the size of the project, I will be covering a different part of the world every weekend, with links to previous articles in the series. Part One will cover the continent of North America. This geographical region includes Central America and the Caribbean. I will then work my way eastwards and southwards.

Below each set of flags, arranged vertically in the page’s centre due to WordPress’ horrifically fiddly HTML editor, are a list of the featured countries, alphabetically by their ccTLD. Each country name has a link to its government’s website or the nearest equivalent.

Some flags, such as that of Libya are out of date. Some newer countries, such as South Sudan and some dependencies are also absent. There are also some flags of now defunct countries, such as Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, that were issued ccTLDs in the Eighties and early Nineties, which I have also included.

By the way, vexillology is the study of flags, their designs, meanings and history.

NORTH AMERICA

ag - Antigua and Barbuda

ai - Anguilla

an - Netherlands Antilles

aw - Aruba

bb - Barbados

bm - Bermuda

bs - Bahamas

bz - Belize

ca - Canada

cr - Costa Rica

cu - Cuba

dm - Dominica

do - Dominican Republic

gd - Grenada

gl - Greenland

gt - Guatemala

hn - Honduras

ht - Haiti

jm - Jamaica

kn - Saint Kitts and Nevis

ky - Cayman Islands

lc - Saint Lucia

ms - Montserrat

mx - Mexico

ni - Nicaragua

nl - Curacao

pa - Panama

pr - Puerto Rico

sv - El Salvador

tt - Trinidad and Tobago

us - United States of America

vc - Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

vi - Virgin Islands (U.S.)

.ag Anguilla and Barbuda
.ai Anguilla
.an Netherlands Antilles (no longer exists)
.aw Aruba
.bb Barbados
.bm Bermuda
.bs Bahamas
.bz Belize
.ca Canada
.cr Costa Rica
.cu Cuba
.dm Dominica
.do Dominican Republic
.gd Grenada
.gl Greenland
.gt Guatemala
.hn Honduras
.ht Haiti
.jm Jamaica
.kn Saint Kitts and Nevis
.ky Cayman Islands
.lc Saint Lucia
.ms Montserrat
.mx Mexico
.ni Nicaragua
.nl Curaçao
.pa Panama
.pr Puerto Rico
.sv El Salvador
.tt Trinidad and Tobago
.us United States of America
.vc Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
.vi Virgin Islands (U.S.)
(c) Wikimedia Commons

Next weekend, we head south to the other part of the American landmass. Stay tuned.

HEM 3rd anniversary banner pizap.com14293560242241

SOURCES:
“Country code top-level domain” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Country_code_top-level_domain
“Some animated flags” – Hancki, Forum of the Forums/Forumotion/phpBB (9 April 2010) http://help.forumotion.com/t68097-some-animated-flags
IMAGE CREDITS:
CC Search, Creative Commons http://search.creativecommons.org/
“ccTLD” – Wikipédia (Portuguese)/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/CcTLD
“PHOTO MOMENT: Old Mauritian coins” – RedDodo.com, netanimations.net via Vijay Shah, The Half-Eaten Mind (7 September 2013) https://halfeatenmind.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/pm-old-mauritian-coins/
“File:Map of North America.svg” – Cacahuate, Texugo, Joelf, Globe-trotter & Piet-c, Wikimedia Commons (2 August 2008) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Map_of_North_America.svg
“Image and Video Post-Processing With WebGL” – Nicolas Garcia Belmonte, Dev.Opera/Opera Software ASA (17 October 2012) https://dev.opera.com/articles/webgl-post-processing/
“Flag Icons” – Webshocker, dribbble/Dribbble LLC. (10 May 2014) https://dribbble.com/shots/1546961-Flag-Icons
“Pakistan Defence” – Pakistan Defence http://defence.pk/
“RIGS OF RODS” – Rigs of Rods http://www.rigsofrods.com/content/
IPBURGER/IPBurger.com http://ipburger.com/
“Category:Country Flags” – EP.com Wiki/EntropiaPlanets.com/EntropiaPlanets Wiki – Entropia Universe Guides Wiki Info http://www.entropiaplanets.com/wiki/Category:Country_Flags

 

GAMER ART: The userbar

Two geeks walk into a userbar…..

Okay, so I might have completely lost the punchline to this joke, but the popularity and artistic capacity for expression of the userbar certainly isn’t any laughing matter. For almost a decade, gamers, geeks and online artists have used userbars as decorations and virtual badges of honour to announce their presence and creativity on the internet.

So what exactly is a userbar?. It’s a small and slender graphic which is a really skinny version of the ubiquitous advertising banners found all over the web. The big difference though is that they aren’t ads for companies. Instead they are used to express a person’s interests, skills and passions; or to advertise their gaming level and prowess. Cramming a lot into a space usually measuring no more than the standard 350 by 19 pixels (with a border of 1 pixel thick, userbars can be larger though), userbar designers will often incorporate imagery, text and even animations and gifs taken from videos or popular TV shows. The most widely used typeface (font) for userbar text is Visitor TT2 BRK with the standard size of letters set at 13 pixels in height. The font gives a very computer generated and retro  appearance to the bar and often, rather like a framed picture, designers can choose to make their userbars visually presentable by applying a ‘glass finish’ that gives the design a glossy look. The natural home of the userbar is usually forums, mainly those connected to gaming or technology, but I have seen them being attached to signatures used in a popular South Asian young people’s forum.

(c) R-a-w-Z/DeviantArt

Userbars reached their zenith in the mid 2000’s, as the internet was already becoming well entrenched in people’s lives and gamers made the transition from downloading PC games to battling and co-operating with fellow hobbyists on online portals such as World of Warcraft. While userbars have never broken the mainstream like other ‘geeky‘ expressions of culture have done, and their popularity has declined since their heyday, userbars still retain a loyal fanbase and several thousand are being painstakingly handcrafted by forum users and passionate gamers today. There are vibrant online communities built around the designing of userbars as a hobby. One, userbars.be, is “a respectful community of creative people who are passionate about creating and sharing userbars they make ” with a showroom of more than 40,000 userbars sorted into categories such as brands, celebrities, computer hardware, patriotic, and sports. The site currently has over 28,000 members and contributors. Another, called userbars.name, is a German-based forum dedicated exclusively to the online art form, the 21st century evolution of the miniature paintings of 17th century India and Persia. It has a cult popularity among gamers from Russia and east Europe in particular.

One of the ideal things about userbars is their democratic nature, and that given such a limited space, there are countless millions of ways to express any vignette of personality or interest you like. Anyone with at least some basic graphic skills can make one, and there are sites, such as best-signatures.com, which offer easy to use userbar generators for the fresh-faced userbar novice. For the experienced artist, photo-editing and image suites like Adobe Photoshop or GIMP offer capabilities for making userbars from scratch and there are web-based tutorials and forums for anyone who wants to learn how to make them using photo-editing software. For those who don’t have the money or the inclination to get to grips with the complicated DIY Photoshop option and are frustrated by online userbar generators, there is also the option of downloading special software that creates userbars without the need for broadband. The one I used for this article is the AmitySource UserBar Generator 2.2, which is a small program that gives you the capability of designing your own bars, using images saved on your computer and your choice of colours and filler effect from a preset menu. Although not without its limitations, such as being only able to use the standard Visitor font and that only in one colour and style, the Userbar Generator is very easy to use, even if you’re utterly new to the game, like I am.

To celebrate the miniscule artistic awesomeness that is the humble userbar, I have used both best-signatures.com and the AmitySource generator to make some userbars of my own. In honour of their original spirit, I drew inspiration from other’s creations to make a series of bars that reflect my personality and interests, as well as things that are special to me. As well as the static userbars, I also found another website, www.myspacegens.com, which will quite happily take up to 10 static ones and blend them into a GIF that shows each individual bar in 2-second intervals, transforming your creations into a sort of uber-cool userbar slideshow. That’s very handy if you have a lot to say and display to your fellow gamers or forum commentators.

**************

STATIC

Anglo Mauritian 1z1b3fd

Cadbury's Creme Egg Fan

Casual Photographer

Emoji Abuser

Frequent Whatsapp User

HEM Userbar SPHdlw

Informa Plc.

Kebabish King

Kraving for Kellogg's Krave

London Commuter

Newham Resident

Newspaper Junkie

Pound Sterling User

Proud Hindu

Reppin' Plaistow

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini User

Shaniya's Uncle

Simpsons Fan

Tax Stamp Collector

Trad Asian Dude

Wordpress Blogger

ANIMATED

Animated Userbar 1 4246826

Animated Userbar 2 4246830

**************

A brief explanation of the static userbars.
1. ANGLO MAURITIAN: This bar represent my ethnic heritage, half-English (British) and half-Mauritian. The image is a pin badge featuring the intertwined flags of the two nations
2. CADBURY’S CREME EGG FAN: In honour of one of my favourite items of confectionary and a childhood favourite. The image is of a batch of the UK version of these sweet treats
3. CASUAL PHOTOGRAPHER: I do like to pull out my phone once in a while and take some jaw-dropping pictures, and I humbly appreciate the great expression of photography as an art. The image is a Nikon camera lens or some other specialist model
4. EMOJI ABUSER: As my Whatsapp and Facebook contacts can attest, I am trigger happy when it comes to emoticons. Well it does save on typing. The image is of a gallery of emojis commonly used on messaging services and social media.
5. FREQUENT WHATSAPP USER: Whatsapp, the almost-free messaging service is very important for me to keep in contact with distant family and friends. I used the app’s logo and made the background the same colours.
6. HALF-EATEN MIND: Why should I have all the fun?. This was the first userbar I made, using the Best Signatures site. In honour of this wonderful blog which helps me express myself and keep the reporting dream alive, I used the blog mascot, Woodsy the Owl, as a background.
7. INFORMA PLC.: Made with pride to represent the company I work for, using their corporate logo.
8. KEBABISH KING: This one is to pay homage to one of my favourite restaurants, Kebabish Original (K.O.). As with the Informa bar, I used their logo.
9. KRAVING FOR KELLOGG’S KRAVE: In honour of one of my favourite breakfast cereals. Full of chocolatey goodness.
10. LONDON COMMUTER: They say if you tire of London, you tire of life. I don’t always enjoy commuting, but it is a fundamental part of my day-to-day life. I used a Transport for London (London Underground) ‘Tube Map’ as a background.
11. NEWHAM RESIDENT: In honour of the London borough where I live and grew up in. The logo is that of Newham Council, our local government body.
12. NEWSPAPER JUNKIE: I can’t get enough of that black and white, baby. In honour of a news media that has inspired my journey as a journalist and taught me so much about the world. Graphic used comes from a picture of various British newspapers.
13. POUND STERLING USER: In honour of my currency of choice when at home. This userbar features Bank of England paper money.
14. PROUD HINDU: This bar celebrates my religious identity. The symbol is ‘Aum’ the first sound to originate in the universe and an identifier of my faith. The orange colour is another marker of my beliefs.
15. REPPIN’ PLAISTOW: A little statement of local pride here, Plaistow is the part of east London where I now live and also grew up in. The logo is a signblind from the N69 night bus which cuts through Plaistow and Stratford. I used to take the daytime 69 route to go to college in Leyton.
16. SAMSUNG GALAXY S4 MINI USER: Influenced by the userbar’s original purpose, I made this one a technology special. The mobile phone in question is my current model.
17. SHANIYA’S UNCLE: I made this in honour of one of my nieces, who I’m very close to. I used a family photo of her and chose pink as a background as it’s her favourite hue.
18. SIMPSONS FAN: Depicting the yellow-skinned family at rest, this bar celebrates one of my all-time favourite cartoons.
19. TAX STAMP COLLECTOR: A homage to one of my pastimes. The picture was supplied by a fellow collector of some stamps I was swapping with him.
20. TRADITIONAL ASIAN DUDE: Paying my respects to one of my ancestral cultures. Unlike a lot of South Asians in the UK, I try to remain close to my roots.
21. WORDPRESS BLOGGER: As my blogging friends know, old WP is our bread and butter.

I hope you have enjoyed my userbar collection, and perhaps are inspired to make your own.

By the way, this will be the last article I will be publishing for 2014. This one came out on the 31st December 2014, New Year’s Eve and the very last day of this year. I will not be posting tomorrow, but will be back on Friday 2nd January hopefully. I wish you all a prosperous new year 2015.

Made with Thank You Mario.
Made with Thank You Mario.
ADDITIONAL SOURCES:
“Userbar” Wikipedia http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Userbar
“Userbars.be – the best userbar site of the web !” – userbars.be http://www.userbars.be/
IMAGE CREDITS:
CC Search/Creative Commons http://search.creativecommons.org/
“Halo Clan Userbars” – R-a-w-Z, DeviantArt http://r-a-w-z.deviantart.com/art/Halo-Clan-Userbars-81516428
“Userbar Designer” – Best Signatures/Best-Signatures.com http://www.best-signatures.com/userbar/#designer
AmitySource Userbar Generator 2.2, downloaded from UptoDown.
“Animated GIF Maker” – myspacegens/MyspaceGens.com http://www.myspacegens.com/handler.php?gen=animatedimage
“Thank You Mario! – Super Mario Brothers Animated Text Generator” – Zach Beane, Thank You Mario/WigFlip http://wigflip.com/thankyoumario/

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2015: Vijay’s best new year images

2015….new year…new beginnings….new opportunities.

I just can’t believe it that within three days, we’ll be approaching the middle of the decade, and that it has been fifteen years since the dawn of the Millennium (Year 2000). Those of you reading who were alive then might remember how everyone was harping on about the Y2K Bug and how all our electronics and computers would fail and airplanes would plummet out of the sky. Well, we survived that. Let’s hope we don’t get slain by too much cola/champagne and giant New Year’s meals.

In 2015, I’ll be in my fourth decade of life, and so I want it to be the year for me. I’m hoping that I will get a comfy job with decent pay, a nice place to live (even if it is another houseshare for now) and hopefully I’ll find love too. Never say never. What are your ambitions and resolutions for the New Year 2015?.

Anyway let’s put away the personal musings for now, and let’s get down to business. Those of you who have been following this blog for a while will know that I have a tradition on the Half-Eaten Mind of offering my own hand-picked choice of the best images to celebrate the arrival of a brand new 365 and a quarter days. These images are a reminder that apart from of course celebrating New Years, we also take a clean new look at things, wipe our slates clean and start afresh.

As Wikipedia notes: “2015 (MMXV) will be a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar (dominical letter D), the 2015th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 15th year of the 3rd millennium, the 15th year of the21st century, and the 6th year of the 2010s decade.

2015 has been designated the Year of Light and the International Year of Soils by the sixty-eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Among some of the expected events to happen in 2015 will be the commencement of the Eurasian Economic Union, a political and economic union of sorts between the countries of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Belarus on New Year’s Day itself. Also on January 1, 2015, Lithuania will wave goodbye to the litas, its currency, and adopt the euro in line with many other European Union states (Latvia did the same in 2014; it’s old currency was the lat). In April, NASA‘s Dawn spacecraft is expected to arrive at the dwarf planet Ceres as we seek to build upon our rapidly increasingly knowledge of the smaller bodies in our solar system. The European Space Agency will also partner with NASA to launch other space probes in July. Finally, in May, the long-awaited trading fair  Expo 2015 will be held in Milan, Italy.

2015 is certainly shaping up to be a year of achievements. I’m hoping it will be like that for me too 🙂

Without further ado, here is my choice of the best 2015 NYD pictures. As always, original copyrights belong to the original designers and websites I have obtained my images from. Have a look, fill your heart with New Year’s revelry and wave goodbye to 2014. She’s had her fun.

Gregorian calendar 2015 MMXV
Ab urbe condita 2768
Armenian calendar 1464 ԹՎ ՌՆԿԴ
Assyrian calendar 6765
Bahá’í calendar 171–172
Bengali calendar 1422
Berber calendar 2965
British Regnal year N/A
Buddhist calendar 2559
Burmese calendar 1377
Byzantine calendar 7523–7524
Chinese calendar 甲午年 (Wood Horse) 4711 or 4651 — to — 乙未年 (Wood Goat) 4712 or 4652
Coptic calendar 1731–1732
Discordian calendar 3181
Ethiopian calendar 2007–2008
Hebrew calendar 5775–5776
Hindu calendars
– Vikram Samvat 2071–2072
– Shaka Samvat 1937–1938
– Kali Yuga 5116–5117
Holocene calendar 12015
Igbo calendar 1015–1016
Iranian calendar 1393–1394
Islamic calendar 1436–1437
Japanese calendar Heisei 27 (平成27年)
Juche calendar 104
Julian calendar Gregorian minus 13 days
Korean calendar 4348
Minguo calendar ROC 104 民國104年
Thai solar calendar 2558
Unix time 1420070400–1451606399

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The Half-Eaten Mind would like to wish all our followers, readers, visitors, supporters, family and friends in advance a very happy and successful 2015.

(c) Happy New Year 2015
(c) Happy New Year 2015
(c) Happy New Year 2015
(c) Happy New Year 2015
(c) happynewyearwishes.org
(c) happynewyearwishes.org
(c) happynewyearwishes.org
(c) Happy New Year 2015
(c) Claudiaaa/WeHeartIt/Tumblr
(c) 123newyear.com via Newyear Celebration/WeHeartIt/Tumblr
(c) 123newyear.com via Newyear Celebration/WeHeartIt/Tumblr
ADDITIONAL SOURCES:
“2015” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015
IMAGE CREDITS:
“Happy New Year Logo Creator” – Denis Bodor, FlamingText/FlamingText.com Pty Ltd http://www.flamingtext.co.uk/logo/Design-Happy-New-Year
“Free animations and blinkies generators” – Animated Gifs http://www.animated-gifs.eu/animations.htm
“New Year 2015 Wishes Quotes Sayings Messages” – Happy New Year 2015/Trends Inshorts http://www.trendsinshorts.net/2014/12/new-year-2015-wishes-quotes-sayings.html
“Happy New Year 2015 Timeline Covers For Facebook” – Happy New Year 2015/Trends Inshorts http://www.trendsinshorts.net/2014/12/happy-new-year-2015-timeline-covers-for-fb.html
“Happy New Year Images 2015-:” – Happy New Year 2015/happynewyearwishes.org http://www.happynewyearwishes.org/new-year-images.html
“Happy New Year 2015 Shayari and Sad Sms for Broken Heart” – Happy New Year 2015 (29 December 2014) http://www.happynewyear2015images.net/2014/12/happy-new-year-2015-Sad-Sms-for-Broken-Heart.html
“Tagged with happy new year 2015” – WeHeartIt, Tumblr http://weheartit.com/tag/happy%20new%20year%202015?page=2&before=154003700

GIF MOMENT: Christmas 2014 Gifs + HEM Santa wallpaper

With only a week and a half to go until old Saint Nick squeezes down our chimneys with his big bag of goodies, the Half-Eaten Mind once again brings you a special edition wallpaper and a selection of festive animated images to outshine any Christmas tree.

A good time is coming, I wish it were here,
The very best time in the whole of the year;
I’m counting each day on my fingers and thumbs –
the weeks that must pass before Santa Claus comes.

Then when the first snowflakes begin to come down,
And the wind whistles sharp and the branches turn brown,
I’ll not mind the cold, though my fingers it numbs,
For it brings the time nearer when Santa Claus comes.


– Anonymous

While I’ve outgrown the whole Santa Claus thing, having seen my Mum come home too many times with bags of presents from Primark and Argos; and the house where I now live has no fireplace and chimney for Santa to fall through, and brandy and cookies are so extortionate in price I’d be broke before I’d even bought the Christmas cards, the legend of the bearded one in the red cardigan is still a very magical one, especially for the kids.

The HEM wallpaper for Christmas 2014 pays homage to the chubby old dude with the reindeer-driven sleigh and the cheery “ho ho ho“, by showing him at what he does best, squeezing his ample frame down chimney stacks.

HEM Xmas 2014 Wallpaper pizap.com14185053259981

I used a pre-made Christmas wallpaper from the HD Wallpapers site. This cheery and wintry wallpaper with Santa and his cute reindeer buddies was produced by Zanetine Web Design http://zanetine.com/ who mainly specialise in website building for commercial clients and are based in Amritsar, in the Punjab state of India. I then worked my Christmassy creative magic by uploading the original to the piZap image production site and added a few snowy effects and a reindeer bringing gifts for boys and girls good as gold. Add to that some blog branding with a Yuletide touch and within half-an-hour I was done and dusted. I’m sure Santa will give me an extra prezzie this Xmas just for this adorable wallpaper. Let me know what you think in the comments!!

You’ll be seeing this wallpaper as the official background of the Half-Eaten Mind up until our New Years‘ special shortly before the end of the Christmas break. It will also take pride of place on the HEM Twitter and Facebook pages too, so however you interact with the Half-Eaten Mind, we’ll be spreading some special Christmas cheer as Santa makes his way doing the same on a far grander scale through the night skies.

From myself at the Half-Eaten Mind, I would like to wish of you and your loved ones a very happy Christmas, full of joy, happiness, excitement….and mince pies!

 

Now….here come the GIFs.

Taken from various free animated image sites, HEM has brought you a healthy mix of the funny, sparkly and traditional, including many vintage examples from the early days of the popular internet (2000’s onwards). Hope you enjoy them, and of course they are free to borrow for your own use. After all, Christmas is about sharing!!

(c) Giphy

 

(c) fg-a.com
(c) fg-a.com
(c) fg-a.com
(c) AnimatedGIF.net & Travlang Online, Inc.
(c) caccioppoli.com
(c) caccioppoli.com
(c) caccioppoli.com
(c) netanimations.net
(c) Gifs.cc
(c) ThinkNice
(c) Profile-Comments.com via ThinkNice
(c) ThinkNice
(c) ThinkNice
(c) ThinkNice
(c) ThinkNice
ADDITIONAL SOURCES:
“When Santa Claus Comes” – Kidspot http://www.kidspot.com.au/Christmas/Christmas-traditions-Christmas-poems-When-Santa-Claus-Comes+3664+661+article.htm
Zanetine home page http://zanetine.com/

 

IMAGE CREDITS:
“MERRY CHRISTMAS JINGLE BELLS” – Zanetine Web Design, HD Wallpapers (2 December 2013) http://www.hdwallpapers.in/merry_christmas_jingle_bells-wallpapers.html
piZap http://pizap.com/
Giphy http://giphy.com/search/christmas-2014/4
“Free Christmas Gifs – Animations – Christmas Clipart” – fg-a.com http://www.fg-a.com/christmas.htm
“CHRISTMAS Images #1-14 of 68” –  AnimatedGIF.net & Travlang Online, Inc. http://www.animatedgif.net/seasonal/xmas/xmas.shtml
“Animated gifs merry christmas feliz navidad nativity wise men santa christmas tree christmas lights carolers snow” – caccioppoli.com http://caccioppoli.com/Animated%20gifs%20merry%20christmas%20feliz%20navidad%20nativity%20wise%20men%20santa%20christmas%20tree%20christmas%20lights%20carolers.html
“Moving Merry Christmas pictures, X-mas tree and Christmas clip art animated gifs” – Christmas animations at netanimations.net/netanimations.net http://www.netanimations.net/Animated_Santa_Clause_Xmas_Christmas_Trees.htm
“Free Christmas Gifs – Animated Christmas Gifs” – Gifs.cc http://www.gifs.cc/christmas-gifs.shtml
“Cute, Funny Christmas Animated GIF Collection (33 GIFs)” – Cute & Funny Christmas GIFs Collection, ThinkNice/ThinkNice.com & WebOrigination.com http://www.thinknice.com/cute-funny-christmas-gifs-collection/

 

 

NEW BLOG GRAPHICS: In collaboration with Canva

From time to time, I like to make little tweaks and improvements to the Half-Eaten Mind. As regular readers are aware, I have some fairly passable graphic design skills which I put to good use in giving a smart, fun and appropriate visual appeal to the blog.

While reading a blogpost by new blogging friend Olga, I chanced across a reference to a website called Canva. This website is a simple-to-use graphic factory online that enables you to produce your own contemporary images for your website. Canva offers its own text templates, backgrounds, cliparts and patterns, many of which are free, which are as high-quality as those used by website designers. You can churn out anything from infographics to Facebook headers and posters for publicity which can be printed in real life.

I decided to take on the awesomeness of Canva and make some new graphics for pages on the blog. With the help of the site’s ready-made templates, resizing, image upload facility and placement rule marking, the graphics I did were practically professional standard, considering this was the very first time I used Canva. I used different, but contemporary styles for each image, combined with creative commons imagery and my own supplied images. You can also obtain images from Canva, but it’s a one-dollar fee per image used. You can download the completed graphic as a JPG or PDF file, but be careful to choose the option for downloading one of the pages (choosing page one) otherwise you will have a fat ZIP file to contend with. With the images below, you probably can see my ‘design personality’ show through, but also I have incorporated elements and colours derived or inspired from the HEM’s branding or previous graphic projects I have undertaken on here.

HEM Canva Publicity

 

DIRECTORIES & AWARDS

Images added in from Pixabay, OpenClipart and my own images and cropped with Fotor. All graphics done with Canva.

The inspiration comes with thanks from Olga NM at Just Olga. See her experience of Canva (and other web-based thingummies) at this link: Are you bad with images? Try Canva. And other bits and bobs.

PHOTO MOMENT: Anjali’s New Year’s Greetings

with Anjali Shah (image designer & contributor)

Hey heeeeyy!!

This is not only the Half-Eaten Mind’s first Photo Moment of 2014, it is also our first article full-stop, and today it comes courtesy of piZap whizzkid, little sister and loyal contributor Anjali.

I was expecting New Year‘s Eve to be a quiet one for me. The weather was atrocious, with the streets sodden with rain and a horrible wind blowing all over. Just as I had finished dinner, I got a text from one of my brothers asking me to come down his place. As I had already eaten and as I knew that public transport would largely shut down for the New Year’s holiday, I was not going to go. but luckily a family friend who had a car was also visiting, and immediately I got ready, left the house, trudged through the rain and rode on of the last buses heading towards Canning Town tube station. Once I got to my mother’s house, we had some quality family time. I watched them all have a hefty takeaway order of pizza and chicken burgers. I felt a bit hungry again so pinched a quarter of Mum’s chicken burger. We watched EastEnders ( a soap opera set in London’s East End) and a comic puppet show on Comedy Central, while me and my friend Yousaf had a comments war on Facebook concerning Justin Bieber (He’s a fan, though he denies it, I am definitely not!). Our family get-together culminated in a small fireworks display in the back garden. Though the rain by now was heavy, it didn’t dampen our spirits. The fireworks went off with a bang, we saw a solitary Chinese lantern drift past like a bright orange UFO and we welcomed 2014 in with smiles and cheers. It was a lovely and memorable evening.

As part of the New Year’s celebrations, Anjali created a special piZap image which she had scheduled to release on her Twitter account at exactly 12:00 GMT – the first minute of 2014. I was able to preview the image before she put it on general display, and what can I say, It was stupendous, an amazing shock of colour, detail, and all the party atmosphere a New Year’s beginning entails, concentrated into a few pixels. Now I know my sister’s design talents well, and regular readers will know too, but I was genuinely shocked into silence here. The caption she enclosed with it was just as great. It must be said though, like all good things, it must be seen to be truly appreciated. So here it is below.

(c) A. Shah/piZap

I think she has captured the spirit of New Year’s perfectly. The bright flashes and noise of a million fireworks festooning the night skies. The beginnings of a new start, new ventures and new friendships. The dissemination of kindness and the desire for prosperity. It’s time to let bygones be bygones, and to let old grudges and difficulties be blown to fragments like the casings of the assorted pyrotechnics that are launched heavenwards at every New Years.

Let’s hope 2014 can be a wonderful year for all of us…..

****** 🙂 🙂 🙂 2014 🙂 🙂 🙂 ******

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IMAGE CREDIT:
♥❌ Straight Edge ❌♥ on Twitter LINK