LOW-FI WI-FI?: What could be blocking your internet signal

VIJAY SHAH via TecNovedosos

Having unfettered and uninterrupted access to wireless internet, is for those of use in the developed world, now as essential as having a continuous supply of electricity, gas and other utilities. We increasingly spend much of our lives online, and the things we need to do, such as shopping and filling in government forms are moving online too. So when your wireless signal becomes weak or choppy, the frustration is palpable.

If you happen to have a rubbish signal, with constant disconnections or super-slow download speeds, it could be your provider, but it could be due to your surroundings. Presented below are some of the things in your home or office that might be interfering with the quality of your Wi-Fi. This article is based off a feature published in the Spanish-language site TecNovedosos.

 

Objects that cause the Wi-Fi to drop or fizzle out are often referred to as ‘interference sources’ or ‘wireless barriers’ in the industry. So what are these barriers and how can you solve the low fidelity of your wireless ‘fidelity’ and get back to happy surfing.

Firstly the cause might be a mirror or a metal surface in the locality. Metal has a high interference capacity, according to the technical support guys at top tech firm Apple. Indeed having flat metallic objects in the same room is by far the most drastic means of limiting the strength of your signal. So it’s time to give the full-length mirror the boot. Just don’t break it, unless you are keen on seven years of bad Wi-Fi luck.

Another leading cause of interference is bulletproof or toughened glass. Its thickness and reflective properties act as a means of soaking up and reflecting the radio waves that propel Wi-Fi. Unless you work for a top-secret agency or military complex, bulletproof glass is probably not going to be an issue for you, but for the average user, things like glass tables, desks, or fancy glass ornaments can cause major interference with the Wi-Fi signal, and you should either remove or replace these sort of objects to lessen the interference capabilities they have.

Web connections can also be affected by the presence of other appliances, especially fridges, washing machines and radiators. Their piping, which often contains liquids like water, can act as ‘sponges’ that drown the signals. The impact of white goods is considerably less than glass or metal, but this is something worth considering if you are browsing through IKEA’s latest sales on the laptop while in the kitchen, and the product pictures take forever to load.

While you’re in the kitchen looking for Wi-Fi signal thieves, you can also add your microwave oven, gas/electric oven and even baby monitors and drones to the suspects list. These devices emit electromagnetic waves that can impede the radio waves used by wireless internet. Both types of signal operate at a frequency of around 2.4 Hz, so can cancel each other out. Other suspects include webcams, cordless phones and the telly. Healthy technological competition this ain’t.

You should keep your router as far away from other electrical devices and shiny surfaces as much as possible. Most of the people I know keep their routers in the hallways or passages of their homes.

As the festive season approaches, you will be pleased to know that Christmas lights can also be a problem for the signal. As with microwaves, lights generate their own electromagnetic fields which can play havoc with Wi-Fi connectivity, so don’t go online while decorating the Christmas tree!.

The popular expression goes ‘the walls have ears’, well in the case of bad signal troubleshooting, if you live in a house that has stone, cement or brick walls, then it may be time for you to move out if you want a better signal, which given that most homes are made of these materials might make house-hunting a bit tricky. The thicknesses of modern construction materials can act as a barrier to getting the perfect level of connectivity. The best way to mitigate this is to keep your router on the same floor as where you go online, so if you do most of your internet activities upstairs, the router needs to be upstairs too. If you find your signal is still weak or negligible, try moving and experimenting with different positions and locations for the router. A good recommendation is to place the router in a high location above other objects in the room or passage it is situated in.

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

La Publicación 🇪🇸, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/LaPublicacion

“Estos son los objetos que más suelen bloquear tu señal de wifi” – TecNovedosos/Grupo Editorial Grandes Medios (15 September 2018) https://www.tecnovedosos.com/objetos-bloquean-senal-de-wifi/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Wifi, Hotspot, Public, Travel” – mohamed mohamed mahmoud hassan, PublicDomainPictures.net/Bobek Ltd. License: CC0 Public Domain https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=261335&picture=wifi-hotspot-public-travel

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ONLINE AND BORED?: Some fun sites to pass the time

Right now, I am off work for three weeks because of annual leave and the Christmas and New Year break, so I spend some time on the Internet. Every once in a while, the dark brooding spectre of boredom casts its long shadow upon me, and I found myself in front of the laptop, fingers twitching. I literally cannot think of anything to do. When boredom strikes, and I do not want to leave the laptop’s side, I fill up the dead time by Googling something, binge-watching YouTube videos, browsing the Facebook newsfeed or checking out some graphic design.

Until today that is… a journalist with the website Citispotter has been kind enough to dig up some impressive sites that are the perfect medicine for when boredom strikes. Give the cat videos a rest and have a look at these fun websites which will change your outlook on life, keep your fingers occupied and make boredom yesterday’s news.

 

Silk – Interactive Generative Art weavesilk.com

This is a website where you can generate your own art of fiery wisps of smoke like something out of a progressive rock video or something. Release your inner punk artist and make pretty thangs!. You can also save and share your designs. Silk is also available for download on iPads and iPhones.

Simon Game freesimon.org

The online version of the cult 1980s memory game invented by Baer, Morrison and Cope. You have a round device with buttons that plays a sequence which you have to repeat. Good brain exercise!

Online Eye Test – PersonalEYES personaleyes.com.au/online-eye-test

It is always important to have regular eye tests at the opticians, but what if you are stuck at home, you are not going out and the opticians are closed. Well’ you can try an online eye test like the one linked above and see if your peepers are up to scratch. Ideally it’s best to use a desktop computer so you can keep the approved distance from the screen.

FamilySearch familysearch.org

Run by the Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) from their headquarters in Utah, USA. FamilySearch is the world’s largest genealogical portal, where you might be able to find details of your ancestors and long-lost relatives. Who knows, you may have royal blood?

Prey preyproject.com

This is very handy if you want to keep a close eye on your electronic goods. Oriented towards safeguarding our iPhones/iPads/Mac Airbooks, Prey lets you track and find your devices with a single account, should they get stolen or lost. Around 8.5 million devices are protected by Prey. The tracker can even take a secret picture of the thief if they start using your device as well as gathering data useful for the police or the courts.

Documentary Heaven documentaryheaven.com

Do you love to sit back with a hot chocolate and David Attenborough or Bear Grylls on the box. Now you can watch documentaries on your PC for free with Documentary Heaven. Current must-watch highlights include docs on the Cassini spacecraft, former EastEnders actor Ross Kemp exploring the Libyan migrant crisis and a report on torture in American prisons.

Codecademy codecademy.com

A personal favourite of this article’s author, Codecademy is a free online coding school where you can learn HTML5, CSS, JavaScript and other computing doohickeys at your own pace. The courses are broken down into easy to digest lessons with lots of interactivity and guidance. There are also fun side projects and quizzes to test your new skills. Coding has been described as the literacy of the future, so this could be a game-changer for your future career.

Rainy Mood rainymood.com

If you are not only bored but unable to sleep, then this might be right down your street, or bedroom. Rainy Mood plays different kinds of sounds associated with rain, making it also ideal for people relaxing and studying. Just don’t fall asleep on your device and wreck it by drooling over it.

calibre – E-book management calibre-ebook.com

This is a handy utility for people who love to read but are crap at organising. Download Calibre and it will organise your e-books into virtual libraries. Not only that, but apparently you can use it to create your own books and sync your collection with your other devices.

Duolingo duolingo.com

A renowned website where you can learn major world languages for free with assessments to reinforce your learning. The lessons are fun and gamified and you can learn at your own pace and even in your lunch breaks.

Freerice freerice.com

Not only do you get to end your boredom, but you can also help end world hunger with Freerice. Play its multiple-choice quizzes and every time you win a quiz, 10 grains of rice are donated to the World Food Programme. Created by John Breen in 2007, Freerice makes altruism fun.

SOURCES:

HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind

“17 Interesting Things You Can Do On Internet When You Are Getting Bored” – Samia Subhan Qureshi, Citispotter (19 November 2016) http://citispotter.com/17-interesting-things-you-can-do-on-internet-when-you-are-getting-bored/?utm_source=0fbf7af4023e137b83d442372117db9c

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Free stock photo of computer, desk, electronics” – Burst, Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/computer-desk-electronics-indoors-374074/

 

IT CAME FROM UNDER THE BRIDGE: The different species of social media trolls

If you are a regular on the social media scene or frequent forums for subjects such as video games and politics, you may have already encountered a particularly troublesome type of internet user. They like to speak in CAPITAL LETTERS, throw around %^&£” insults and generally behave a nuisance and rile everyone else up. Having a mature, informed and adult conversation with these users is wishful thinking. Make way for the troll. Named for the grotesque monsters living under bridges in Three Billy Goats Gruff and other fairy tales of olde, the internet troll is not likely to eat you but will definitely chew up your self-confidence and online experience if they decide you are next on the menu.

 

In recent years, the act of trolling has become more noticed in the news headlines as social media becomes entrenched in our daily lives. A quick perusal of the comments under any popular YouTube video, for example, will expose you to more swear words and put-downs than any dictionary could ever teach. Filled with verbal bile and hiding behind a (nearly) anonymous screen, internet trolls have become more and more brazen, even targeting famous celebrities, politicians and others in the public eye with vitriol, degrading words and even death threats. Many trolls engage in cyber bullying, usually targeted against the young, which can be just as vicious as bullying in Real Life, but with the more damaging impact that the hurtful words and memes can spread far beyond school or college gates and appear in front of millions of eyes globally.

As the world increasingly is more connected online, trolls have emerged from the darkness in greater numbers, and policymakers are now beginning to sit up and take notice of the problems they cause. In the U.K. several trolls have already fallen foul of the law after engaging in malicious online communications with people they did not like the look of. Legal guidelines have been contemplated that will make extreme trolling punishable by up to two years imprisonment.

Informational website Basic Infos has studied the phenomenon of the internet troll with an almost scientific approach, dividing them into ‘species’ based on their activities. Below are the different types of troll that you need to steer clear of when on the web.

Grammar Corrector Troll: The online grammar Nazi, these trolls are relatively harmless, but can be infuriatingly pedantic. They will call you out on typos in your comments. Some may actually be angels in disguise, simply helping you to improve your spelling, punctuation or factual knowledge, and mean no ill will. The more hellbent ones of this species however, will mock you and often question your intelligence or education, especially in debates or discussions of controversial topics. However even spelling bee champions can fall foul of autocorrect, so the grammar corrector troll may turn out to be a hypocrite.

Headline Reading Troll: These trolls frequent news sites. They generally have low attention spans and will spend more time writing an acerbic comment that actually reading the article they are commenting on. As they have only read as far as the headline, they will start typing up controversy and saying things without knowing the full story. For example, trolls who insult all British Pakistanis based on an article about child sexual attacks where the perpetrator was non-Asian.

Meme Master Troll: This variety tends to be more creative, and employ the viral nature of memes to push forth their twisted opinions. Some of this species who possess a slightly higher IQ and some dexterity will even cook up their own derisory memes. They let these memes do the talking for them and are literal believers in the expression ‘a picture tells a thousand insults’. While offensive at times, some meme masters can be quite hilarious and they have the advantage of adding a bit of pictorial spice to otherwise serious debates.

ITK Troll: To give it its full scientific name, the ‘I Too Know’ troll is smarter than other species, with sometimes encyclopaedic knowledge, or as the Americans say, a ‘smartass’. Unlike other semi-intellectuals however, the ITK troll uses their advanced knowledge of politics, culture, sports or cat pictures to harass and put down other users, especially those considered newbies. These trolls are the online equivalent of that smug smart guy at work or the pub who is a know-it-all and is not afraid to let everyone know it.

Clap Back Troll: These trolls will appear if you make a comment that is the perfect answer or adds weight to a conversation. They will sarcastically agree with you or put you down. The rarest of the species of troll.

Certified Abuser Troll: This species is further subdivided into two sub-species. One of which is in a position of power, i.e. an admin for a Facebook page, but uses their place of authority to pee off other commentators and pick on others while they get high off their clearly abused power. The other breed consists of individuals who will go to extreme lengths to dig up your external links, profiles or older comments and use them to publicly humiliate, attack or counter-argue you with. Basically being beaten with your own e-shoes.

 

Everywhere Troll: Like their microscopic cousin, the dust mite, the everywhere troll is found literally, everywhere.They comment so frequently that they almost become minor celebrities in their little online worlds. Trolling is a full-time career for them, and their experience makes them one of the most dangerous species of troll. The everywhere troll can often be found doing their 9-5 across a range of social media. Despite their dedication to their hobby, most everywhere trolls are unemployed or unemployable, which gives them plenty of free time to go cause some trouble.

Researcher Troll: Another of the more intellectual groupings of troll, the researcher is a whizz at Google, Bing and company. They will claim your comment is wrong, inaccurate or downright stupid and will trawl the web, returning within a few minutes or hours with a link or image aiming to disprove you. Like the Grammar Corrector troll, this species can be beneficial and can teach you a few things but the more malicious specimens will use their new-found facts to crap all over you in front of other participants. Like the ITK troll, the researchers tend to be more intelligent than the average troll, but still an annoyance.

Capital Letter-Loving Troll: LIKES TO TALK LIKE THIS. They may be a victim of a broken Caps Lock key, but more likely, this heavily opinionated variant feels the need to SHOUT their comment or opinion so everyone can feed their insatiable need to be NOTICED. Tend to be quite argumentative and thinks they know everything. Keep calm and ignore. My own addition to this list.

Cyberbully: My second addition to this list, the cyberbully is the breed that would be on the Dangerous Dogs List if you could keep trolls as pets. By far the most pathetic, lowdown and twisted of the various troll species, the cyberbully’s activities make the deeds of all other trolls pale into insignificance in comparison. This troll, sadly a common species, will insult you, demean you, degrade you into the ground and even leave their laptop and make a physical appearance if pushed far enough. These trolls are the ones who are headline gold for news editors. These pointless individuals have caused the most damage to the web experience. Unlike most trolls, which you can safely ignore, the cyberbully needs to be fumigated with a phone call to your local police service or cyberbullying hotline.

Remember folks, trolls are energised by the oxygen of publicity, and if you don’t feed the troll, it will go find some other bridge to play under. Most trolls just want an audience and to provoke a response from you, and most will eventually get the chop once the website owner closes their account or permabans their sorry behinds. If the troll takes it too far, you have witnesses and proof to report them. Don’t get trolled, Rick roll them back. The report link is your best friend. When encountering whichever species of troll behaving badly, the best thing is to ignore them, as it is the perfect troll repellent.

SOURCES:

HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind

Ramat Lami‏, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Ramat_Lami

“SEE THE DIFFERENT KIND OF TROLLS YOU FIND ON SOCIAL MEDIA THESE DAYS” – Basic Infos/BasicInfosNG [ GAE Enterprise Ltd.] https://www.basicinfos.com/trolls-you-find-on-social-media/

IMAGE CREDITS:

“Troll” – Doug Wildman, Flickr (4 May 2006) https://www.flickr.com/photos/34585748@N00/321902708

“File:Man uses laptop (1).jpg” – Bill Branson & National Cancer Institute, Wikimedia Commons (June 2004) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Man_uses_laptop_(1).jpg

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/

ONLINE TRANSLATION STUDY: English-language websites becoming more popular for foreign language speakers

gb

London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via the Open Business Council

A recent survey by an online translation company has discovered that English-language websites are becoming more and more frequented by speakers of continental European languages, particularly French and German, the Open Business Council reported this past Thursday.

One Hour Translation, an online translation agency which self-describes as the world’s largest in this sector, and which provides translation services to global e-commerce companies, conducted a research study of 4,000 e-commerce translation projects during late November 2016. The projects stretched from a period beginning in 2015, and up until November this year. The agency’s research discovered that the first language of choice for translation of Anglophone sites was French, with German coming in at second place.

 

 

Several international tongues were examined in the study. The analysis ranked target languages according to the rate of translation projects opened for them, against the total annual number of translation projects for English-language e-commerce websites.

In 2016, translations from English to French ranked first, with 13.5% of the total relevant projects, followed closely by German, with a rate of 13.4%. Unexpectedly, Dutch was placed at third, with 11.3% of the projects. The languages that ranked 4th to 10th in 2016 were, respectively, Italian (10%), Korean (9.8%), Japanese and Spanish (both 9.3%), Polish (8.5%), Norwegian (7.8%) and Swedish (7.1%).

French and German also topped the 2015 ranking, with 19% and 17% respectively. However, in 2015, Spanish was ranked third (15%), Dutch fourth (12%) and Italian fifth (9%). Ranks number 6 to 10 were Swedish (8%), Korean (7%), Norwegian (6%), Polish (5%) and Japanese (2%), respectively.

One Hour Translation’s chief marketing officer and co-founder Yaron Kaufman commented on the study results “…the fact that the French and German markets top the priorities of global e-commerce players immediately below the English-speaking markets is not surprising, since Germany and France are the strongest economies in Continental Europe. French and German are also spoken in other strong economies such as Canada, Switzerland and Austria. Dutch came third as a target language in 2016, compared to number 4 in 2015, and this strengthening demonstrates the resilience of the economy and purchasing power of the Netherlands compared to other European countries.”

Kaufman added: “Another notable fact is the sharp rise in the ranking of Japanese, which rose from number 10 in 2015 to number 6 in 2016. This development demonstrates that e-commerce players are also targeting the significant purchasing power of consumers in Japan.”

English is the most dominant language on the web, with more than half of sites written in that language. While English is widely used on the net due to its founding and dominance by Anglophone countries such as the U.S., other language communities like Chinese and French are also strong internet users. 

 

SOURCES:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
intelligentHQ.com, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/intelligentHQ
“English Language E-commerce Websites Target French German Dutch Markets” – Open Business Council (15 December 2016) http://www.openbusinesscouncil.org/2016/12/english-language-e-commerce-websites-target-french-german-dutch-markets/
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:WMF Fundraiser 2011 Translation Project-1.jpg” – Victorgrigas, Wikimedia Commons (29 December 2011) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:WMF_Fundraiser_2011_Translation_Project-1.jpg

OLD-FASHIONED COURTING: Oxford University student launches ‘chivalrous dating’ website

In a dating scene that often complicates relationships and gender behaviours, and where many new dating sites seem to encourage casual hookups, a new dating website launched by a graduate from a top UK university plans to return to old-fashioned courting values, like the man making ‘the first move’. While many will applaud the website’s emphasis on traditional values, the dating portal could well raise questions of sexism and the perpetration of outdated concepts of dating behaviour. In a nod to the ideals of days past, the website features vintage black-and-white images of romantic couples, with the catchy handwritten slogan “good old-fashioned dating”. The portal aims to counter the notion that chivalry is dead in 2015.

English: A boy helping a girl over a creek.
English: A boy helping a girl over a creek. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chivalrynotdead.com was set up by Oxford University graduate Beth Murtagh to counter the current trend for casual dating in the heterosexual community. Male users are required to initiate interest and conversations with females. Women are banned from approaching men they take a fancy too, apart from sending a handkerchief icon to men who spark their interest, which is meant to attract the potential husband or boyfriend’s interest. The handkerchief is an attempt by Murtagh to hark back to the Victorian era when ladies would only offer a would-be suitor a signal of their single status, while the Victorian gentleman was expected to woo and court her in return. 

The site also features traditionally-inspired dating tips for men and women, but with the tips only visible to the gender they are written for.

Murtagh, who is also managing director of Chivalrynotdead.com’s holding company Gargery Ltd, said in a statement: “…it is particularly important in the era of hook up apps to bring romance back into the dating scene. The rules of chivalry are important, particularly for women, as they allow a woman time to assess how a date treats her and to negotiate how she would like to be treated in a relationship. I don’t see this as anti-feminist.” Newly developed apps like Tinder and its gay equivalent Grindr have taken the dating scene by storm, with their emphasis on appearances and quick fuss-free dating, but have caused alarm among exponents of traditional dating who say that they have cheapened love and relationships for the sake of a one-night stand.

Murtagh’s dating site has come in for particular criticism on social media such as Twitter, where it has been blasted as ‘sexist’ and ‘outdated’, although many have supported it in its ambition to bring chivalry back to dating. For those interested in signing up, member profiles are available for free until September, after which a monthly fee applies. Chivalrynotdead.com can also be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

SOURCES:
“Oxford University Graduate launches world’s first chivalrous dating website” [press release] – Journalism.co.uk/Mousetrap Media Ltd (30 June 2015) https://www.journalism.co.uk/press-releases/oxford-university-graduate-launches-world-s-first-chivalrous-dating-website/s66/a565634/
“Home | Chivalry Not Dead” – Beth Murtagh, Chivalrynotdead.com/Gargery Ltd. http://www.chivalrynotdead.com/
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Victorian chivalry.jpg” – Jonund, Wikimedia Commons (15 December 2009) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Victorian_chivalry.jpg

VIRTUAL VEXILLOLOGY: Animated world flags with TLDs – the full set

HEM Animated ccTLD Flags Ident pizap.com14318621928841

For our very last article in the Animated ccTLD flags series (a.k.a Virtual Vexillology), you will have the opportunity to see the flags we have featured in the previous articles altogether in one place, along with some examples made for forum users who wish to decline their country of origin when creating their signatures.

It has been a fun and enjoyable series to work on, and it does seem a bit sad to be finally drawing it to a close. This series may be wrapping up, but we are going to do it in true fluttering style. Here are all the flags in alphabetical order of top-level domain. Feast your eyes and enjoy.

P.S. At some point in the future, the Hancki flag icons plus some even smaller flag icons originally from ‘FamFamFam‘ , a website run by British graphic designer and developer Mark James and other sources too, will be added as a page on this blog’s sideline website, HEM Graphics. Don’t click the browser window…or touch the dial!.

A small inspiration for me writing and researching for this series is that at work we often work with ISO codes (which are broadly similar to ccTLDs) when processing data and so it was interesting to see more exciting examples of these shortened country names in use. Sadly since these flags first burst onto the scene in 2008, forums have lost a bit of popularity as social media has become the new outlet for people to air their voices, and the forums that are still be updated now tend to go for the minimalist look, dispensing with embellishments like signature GIFs, userbars, stats and of course these flags. In a way, this is my way of preserving this piece of internet history for the future, should forums no longer use them.

 

 

No flags available under this letter.

 

Previous Articles in the Series

Part 1 – North America

Part 2 – South America

Part 3 – Europe

Part 4 – Africa

Part 5 – Asia

Part 6 – Australasia/Oceania

IMAGE CREDITS:
“Animated fonts 018” – APRENDE INGLÉS CON GIFS ANIMADOS http://clafoti.com/dictionary/A_alf_018.htm
“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

 

 

VIRTUAL VEXILLOLOGY: Animated world flags with TLDs (Part 6 – Australasia/Oceania)

HEM Animated ccTLD Flags Ident pizap.com14318621928841

Our final leg of the journey in this series on animated flag icons featuring ccTLDs now takes in the continent of Australasia, also known as Oceania. While this continent’s total area is very dominated by the landmass and Commonwealth of Australia, it also has a large number of small islands dotted over the breadth and length of the Pacific Ocean. Many of these islands are their own sovereign states, while others are dependencies of larger Australasian nations.

As far as flags go, one common theme with flags from Australasia is that a lot of them carry a smaller flag in their cantons (top left-hand corners of the flag). This is the Union Flag (Union Jack) of Great Britain. The reason for this is simply that many of these countries were at one point part of the British Empire until the latter half of the past century, and it was standard for British colonies to carry an ‘ensign’ which included the UK national flag. After independence, many did away with the colonial flags, but some, like Australia and its southerly neighbour, New Zealand, retained them for cultural and political reasons.

While we are on the subject of ccTLDs, did you know that the domain registries of several Pacific countries allow their ccTLDs to be used for commercial purposes by companies which may have nothing whatsoever to do with the country that the TLD is related with.

.tv is the ccTLD for the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu. It also is very much like the acronym for television (TV). As a result, several media companies have adopted the .tv domain for their websites, usually ones rich in video content. The .tv domain is owned by a private company, dotTV (Verisign) based in the United States. The Tuvaluan government owns a 20 per cent stake and makes US$1 million in royalties annually of the back of renting out their TLD. The neighbouring island of Niue has also turned its .nu domain into a moneyspinner as well. This was one of the first such domains to be auctioned out for marketing purposes as an alternative to the bog-standard .com, .net and .org trinity. The domain sounds similar to the English word ‘new’ as well as in other European language versions of that word, and has been particularly popular in  Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium, as nu is the word for “now” in Swedish,Danish and Dutch. Another island nation, Samoa (formerly Western Samoa) still uses its old TLD .ws . It is administered by SamoaNIC, for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the government of Samoa. It can also stand for ‘web site’ or ‘world site’ and has been popular with companies looking to expound on their international credentials. All three of these examples from Pacific island registries are known in the web business as ‘domain hacks’.

Bouvet Island is normally considered part of Antarctica, but for the sake of brevity I have included it along with Australasia.

AUSTRALASIA/OCEANIA

(c) Cruickshanks/Wikimedia Commons

 

as - American Samoa

au - Australia

bv - Bouvet Island

cc - Cocos (Keeling) Islands

ck - Cook Islands

cx - Christmas Island

fj - Fiji

fm - Micronesia, Federated States of

gu - Guam

ki - Kiribati

mh - Marshall Islands

mp - Northern Mariana Islands

nf - Norfolk Island

nr - Nauru

nu - Niue

nz - New Zealand

pg - Papua New Guinea

pw - Palau

sb - Solomon Islands

tk - Tokelau

to - Tonga

tv - Tuvalu

vu - Vanuatu

ws - Samoa

 .as American Samoa
.au Australia
.bv Bouvet Island
.cc Cocos (Keeling) Islands
.ck Cook Islands
.cx Christmas Island
.fj Fiji
.fm Micronesia, Federated States of 
.gu Guam
.ki Kiribati
.mh Marshall Islands
.mp Northern Mariana Islands
.nf Norfolk Island
.nr Nauru
.nu Niue
.nz New Zealand
.pg Papua New Guinea
.pw Palau
.sb Solomon Islands
.tk Tokelau
.to Tonga
.tv Tuvalu
.vu Vanuatu
.ws Samoa

We are very nearly reaching the end of our special series on the flag icons that make ‘virtual vexillology’ a success. Next week, the Half-Eaten Mind plans to bring the flags featured in this series, plus a few extra others that were excluded for not being country-specific, together into one article in the form of a gallery. There will need to be some groundwork to see if it is possible to create such a gallery from the flags already uploaded to the Mind’s image gallery, but we are hopeful of success.

Previous Articles in the Series

Part 1 – North America

Part 2 – South America

Part 3 – Europe

Part 4 – Africa

Part 5 – Asia

This article was mainly prepared at the HEM home office in Plaistow, with some writing and formatting work done at Informa in Maple House, Euston, London. Some of the work adding links to Australasian government websites was also undertaken at Maple House.
ADDITIONAL SOURCES:
“.tv” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.tv
“.nu” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.nu
“.ws” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/?title=.ws
IMAGE CREDITS:
“File:Oceania UN Geoscheme – Map of Australasia.svg” – Cruickshanks, Wikimedia Commons (30 January 2014) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oceania_UN_Geoscheme_-_Map_of_Australasia.svg
“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

 

VIRTUAL VEXILLOLOGY: Animated world flags with TLDs (Part 5 – Asia)

HEM Animated ccTLD Flags Ident pizap.com14318621928841

Asia is one of the most linguistically, ethnically and religiously diverse continents on the planet. Its kaleidoscope of nations and cultures is well reflected in its range of flags.

Just like Africa and South America, which we explored earlier on in the Animated ccTLD Flags series, Asia was once part of foreign empires, but is also home to many countries which escaped colonialism and have a long and vibrant history.

Asia is home to a wide variety of alphabets and writing systems, which makes it an interesting point to note in what comes next. While the first set of ccTLDs which became current from the 1980s onwards (and featured in our series) were rendered solely in the Roman alphabet, the advances in internet and computing technologies mean that such domains are no longer restricted only to Western-style letters.

In October 2009, at its annual meeting in Seoul, South Korea, the organisation in charge of TLDs, ICANN, announced a plan to extend the range of alphabets enabled for use in domains and URLs from the old American influenced system of writing ‘root zones’ in Latin characters. At this critical meeting, ICANN representatives tabled a motion to introduce the ‘Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs)’ which would enable people using other scripts to use the Web in those scripts, thus ending the discrimination of the current state web in favour of those using languages written in the Roman alphabet. The new generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) Program, approved at the ICANN meeting in Singapore in June 2011, paved the way for countries using other scripts to create their own TLDs in their own writing.

By May 2010, the first such internationalised codes were implemented for Arabic, applying to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE. Russia followed soon after. According to ICANN, Arabic was chosen for the initial rollout because it is one of the most widely used non-Latin languages on the Internet. Languages in India and much of South Asia were then catered for. As of December 2014 there are 45 approved internationalized country code top-level domains. The most used are .рф (Russia) with over 900,000 domains names, .台灣(Taiwan) with around 500,000 and .中国 (China) with over 200,000 domains.

(c) Wikipedia
(c) Wikipedia

A comprehensive list of IccTLDs published by Wikipedia.

The oldest flag-like object ever found, according to one source, was a metal square sheet mounted on a copper pole. Dating to the third millennium BC (BCE) it was uncovered in an archaeological site near Shahdad in Iran. Depicting depicts two figures facing one another on a rich background of animals, plants, and goddesses, the vexilloid is still a mystery as to what purpose it served or who created it.

Asia is also home to the world’s only pennant style national flag, that of Nepal. Nepal adopted this unique flag with its crescent moon and sun design in 1962, and the deep red is said to reflect the hue of the rhododendron, Nepal’s national flower.

ASIA

(c) Tsui/Wikimedia Commons

ae - United Arab Emirates

af - Afghanistan

am - Armenia

az - Azerbaijan

bd - Bangladesh

bh - Bahrain

bn - Brunei

bt - Bhutan

cn - China

ge - Georgia

hk - Hong Kong

id - Indonesia

il - Israel

in - India

iq - Iraq

ir - Iran (Islamic Republic of)

jo - Jordan

jp - Japan

kg - Kyrgyzstan

kh - Cambodia

kp - Korea (Democratic People's Republic of)

kr - Korea (Republic of)

kw - Kuwait

kz - Kazakhstan

la - Laos

lb - Lebanon

lk - Sri Lanka

mm - Myanmar

mn - Mongolia

mo - Macao

mv - Maldives

my - Malaysia

np - Nepal (rectangular flag)

np - Nepal

om - Oman

ph - Philippines

pk - Pakistan

ps - Palestine, State of

qa - Qatar

sa - Saudi Arabia

sg - Singapore

sy - Syrian Arab Republic

th - Thailand

tj - Tajikistan

tm - Turkmenistan

tp - East Timor

tr - Turkey

tw - Taiwan

uz - Uzbekistan

vn - Viet Nam

ye - Yemen

.ae United Arab Emirates
.af Afghanistan
.am Armenia
.az Azerbaijan
.bd Bangladesh
.bh Bahrain
.bn Brunei
.bt Bhutan
.cn China
.ge Georgia
.hk Hong Kong
.id Indonesia
.il Israel
.in India
.iq Iraq
.ir Iran (Islamic Republic of)
.jo Jordan
.jp Japan
.kg Kyrgyzstan
.kh Cambodia
.kpKorea (Democratic People’s Republic of)
.kr Korea (Republic of)
.kw Kuwait
.kz Kazakhstan
.la Laos
.lb Lebanon
.lk Sri Lanka
.mm Myanmar
.mn Mongolia
.mo Macao
.mv Maldives
.my Malaysia
.np Nepal
.om Oman
.ph Philippines
.pk Pakistan
.ps Palestine, State of
.qa Qatar
.sa Saudi Arabia
.sg Singapore
.sy Syrian Arab Republic
.th Thailand
.tj Tajikistan
.tm Turkmenistan
.tp East Timor
.tr Turkey
.tw Taiwan
.uz Uzbekistan
.vn Viet Nam
.ye Yemen

Next weekend, we’ll be completing the final leg of our world ccTLD tour by visiting Australia, New Zealand and a panoply of beautiful ‘South Sea’ islands as we move southwards to Australasia, otherwise known as Oceania. This will be our second to last article in the series, and the very final blogpost will bring all of the flags together as a reference, possibly to be arranged in alphabetical order.

Previous Articles in the Series

Part 1 – North America

Part 2 – South America

Part 3 – Europe

Part 4 – Africa

This article was mainly prepared at the HEM home office in Plaistow, with some writing and formatting work done at Informa in Maple House, Euston, London.

HEM 3rd anniversary banner pizap.com14293560242241

ADDITIONAL SOURCES:
“Internationalized Domain Names” – ICANN/Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers (25 February 2012) https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/idn-2012-02-25-en
“Internationalized country code top-level domain” – Wikipedia/ Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internationalized_country_code_top-level_domain
“Bronze flag, Iran, 3rd millennium BC” – HISTORICAL FLAGS, Tumblr  http://historicalflags.tumblr.com/post/61418440418/bronze-flag-iran-3rd-millennium-bc-this-is-a
“Flag of Nepal” – Wikipedia/ Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Nepal
IMAGE CREDITS:
“Internationalized country code top-level domain” – Wikipedia/ Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internationalized_country_code_top-level_domain
“File:Asia map pastel de.png” – Tsui, Wikimedia Commons (18 January 2006) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Asia_map_pastel_de.png
“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

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