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/

 

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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

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

VIRTUAL VEXILLOLOGY: Animated world flags with TLDs (Part 4 – Africa)

HEM Animated ccTLD Flags Ident pizap.com14318621928841

A continent of colour, vibrancy, determination and contrasts, Africa is often in the news for the wrong reasons, but there is far more to it than the media diet of armed revolutions, wars, poverty and famine. Africa is a place where art has always been close to the hearts of its people, from the cave paintings of the Algerian desert, the Egyptian hieroglyphics, or the masks of the Ashanti Empire or the kingdom of Benin.

Africa’s flags are no exception. Once carved up by colonial powers greedy for natural resources, many African countries seized their independence and freedom during the 20th century. The birth of so many independent nations gave rise to a plethora of flags with meanings of struggles of the past and hopes for the future. It is here where we find a common theme, the Pan African colours. Influenced by the flag of Ethiopia, at one time Africa’s only country not colonised by people from abroad, the colours of red, green and yellow (yellow sometimes replaced with black) were adopted by countries as far apart as Malawi and Ghana as Africans took their place among the stage of free nations. The first African state to adopt a red, gold and green flag upon independence was Ghana in 1957. The other set of Pan African colours was influenced by the UNIA led by accomplished statesman Marcus Garvey in around 1920.

It is this continent that has given us some of the world’s brightest, most expressive and meaning-rich flags. The author of this article also has a connection with Africa. His mother hails from the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, a nation with a flag of four colours.

Internet penetration is relatively low-key in Africa but nearly all African territories still have their own ccTLDs. One of the largest markets for mobile phones (with or without internet access) in the world is Somalia, and Google maintains servers in Kenya and Mauritius.

Please note: South Sudan, Western Sahara, the de facto republics in Somalia, one of the Congos and Ascension Island could not be found for this article. The Libyan flag is the old one of the Libyan Arab Jamhiriyyah of Pres. Muammar Gaddafi, now no longer in use.

AFRICA

(c) Seeds of Hope/Flickr

 

ao - Angola

bf - Burkina Faso

bi - Burundi

bj - Benin

bw - Botswana

cf - Central African Republic

cg - Congo

ci - Côte d'Ivoire

cm - Cameroon

cv - Cape Verde

dj - Djibouti

dz - Algeria

eg - Egypt

er - Eritrea

et - Ethiopia

ga - Gabon

gh - Ghana

gm - The Gambia

gn - Guinea

gq - Equatorial Guinea

gw - Guinea-Bissau

ke - Kenya

km - Comoros

lr - Liberia

ls - Lesotho

ly - Libya

ma - Morocco

mg - Madagascar

ml - Mali

mr - Mauritania

mu - Mauritius

mw - Malawi

mz - Mozambique

na - Namibia

ne - Niger

ng - Nigeria

rw - Rwanda

sc - Seychelles

sd - Sudan

sh - Saint Helena

sl - Sierra Leone

sn - Senegal

so - Somalia

st - Sao Tome and Principe

sz - Swaziland

td - Chad

tg - Togo

tn - Tunisia

tz - Tanzania

ug - Uganda

za - South Africa

zm - Zambia

zr - Zaire

zw - Zimbabwe

 

.ao Angola
.bf Burkina Faso
.bi Burundi
.bj Benin
.bw Botswana
.cf Central African Republic
.cg Congo
.ci Côte d’Ivoire
.cm Cameroon
.cv Cape Verde
.dj Djibouti
.dz Algeria
.eg Egypt
.er Eritrea
.et Ethiopia
.ga Gabon
.gh Ghana
.gm The Gambia
.gn Guinea
.gq Equatorial Guinea
.gw Guinea-Bissau
.ke Kenya
.km Comoros
.lr Liberia
.ls Lesotho
.ly Libya
.ma Morocco
.mg Madagascar
.ml Mali
.mr Mauritania
.mu Mauritius
.mw Malawi
.mz Mozambique
.na Namibia
.ne Niger
.ng Nigeria
.rw Rwanda
.sc Seychelles
.sd Sudan
.sh Saint Helena
.sl Sierra Leone
.sn Senegal
.so Somalia
.st Sao Tome and Principe
.sz Swaziland
.td Chad
.tg Togo
.tn Tunisia
.tz Tanzania
.ug Uganda
.za South Africa
.zm Zambia
.zr Zaire
.zw Zimbabwe

Part Five sees us journeying across the Indian Ocean to visit the continent of Asia. From the virtual land of little waving flags, see you next weekend.

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Apologies to everyone for the late showing of the article this Saturday. This is in fact the first posted from my new laptop, a Toshiba C50-B-189 Satellite, which I only picked up this morning from the Argos store in Broadway, Stratford. My previous laptop, also a Toshiba Satellite, finally ‘handed in its notice’ after four years’ loyal service to myself and the Half-Eaten Mind. Indeed I established the blog as well as its associated sites on that very laptop, a C660 model. But now that baby has flown the nest to the great laptop scrapheap.

Previous Articles in the Series

Part 1 – North America

Part 2 – South America

Part 3 – Europe

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ADDITIONAL SOURCES:
“Pan-African colours” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan-African_colours
IMAGE CREDITS:
CC Search/Creative Commons http://search.creativecommons.org/
“2 africa-map” – Seeds of Hope, Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/31617132@N06/3009598007
“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 3 – Europe)

HEM Animated ccTLD Flags Ident pizap.com14318621928841

Part 3 of the Half-Eaten Mind’s series on animated ccTLD flags now arrives on the shores of Europe, a linguistically and historically diverse continent with a rich history of flags too. Many of Europe’s flags have religious and heraldric meanings, as it was in this continent that such devices as coats-of-arms and banners for military use were developed.

The world’s oldest flag design still in continuous use is the “Dannebrog“, the national flag of the kingdom of Denmark. This Christian inspired flag, featuring a white long-armed cross on a red field has a pedigree of several hundred years, and took its present form design in 1625. The world’s only square national flag is found here, representing Switzerland.

Europe also has a much smaller claim to fame. It is the continent where the Half-Eaten Mind operates from.

We bring you the waving flags of the European continent, including a nod to one of the most impressive projects of intra-national unity and co-operation in recent history – the European Union. You may notice that the flags for Jersey and Guernsey look different from the others. I was unable to find the TLD flags for the two Channel Islands so made do with close alternatives from one the websites I extracted some of the flags from. This also applies to the other crown dependency of the Isle of Man.

Interestingly enough, on an Arabic language forum, I came across two strange examples, one with a Scottish flag but the TLD for Spain (.es) (some sources attribute the flag to Tenerife island in the Canaries, which would explain the .es tag) and a blank ‘white flag’ with no text. On the Maple Royals forum, for players of the MapleStory online game, I came across a user whose forum signature had a previously undiscovered forum flag for the province of Friesland (Frisia or Fryslan) in the Netherlands. Its distinctive flag of red hearts and blue diagonal stripes on a white field soon found a home in my collection. It appears to have been made by someone influenced by the original designer and is not one of the original set of flags that at the end of the last decade.

During further research, I found forum postings from 2008 on Xenforo, another forum development platform, where a user named SchmitzIT made available some attachments for downloading of these GIFs, alongside instructions on how to power them up for your own forum. He attributed these flags to a web graphic designer with the tag name ‘Cobro’, who was working with VBulletin, another popular provider of forum software solutions. Sadly, despite registering for the site, I was unable to get access to the downloads. The user had also made available a single sample of the flags, that one being for the U.S.A.

I have included most of those flags here too.

EUROPE

(c) Wikipedia

ad - Andorra

al - Albania

at - Austria

ax - Aland Islands

ba - Bosnia and Herzegovina

be - Belgium

bg - Bulgaria

by - Belarus

ch - Switzerland

cs - Czechoslovakia

cy - Cyprus

cz - Czech Republic

de - Germany

dk - Denmark

ee - Estonia

es - Spain

eu - Europe

fi - Finland

fo - Faroe Islands

fr - France

fr - Fryslan

gb - Great Britain

gg - Guernsey

gi - Gibraltar

gr - Greece

hr - Croatia

hu - Hungary

ie - Ireland

im - Isle of Man

is - Iceland

it - Italy

je - Jersey

ks - Kosovo

li - Liechtenstein

lt - Lithuania

lu - Luxembourg

lv - Latvia

mc - Monaco

md - Moldova

me - Montenegro

mk - Macedonia (the former Yugoslav Republic of)

mt - Malta

nl - Netherlands

no - Norway

pl - Poland

pt - Portugal

ro - Romania

rs - Serbia

ru - Russian Federation

se - Sweden

si - Slovenia

sk - Slovakia

sm - San Marino

su - Soviet Union

ua - Ukraine

uk - England

uk - Scotland

uk - United Kingdom

uk - Wales

va - Vatican City State

yu - Yugoslavia

000 - Scotland

.ad Andorra
.al Albania
.at Austria
.ax – Aland Islands
.ba Bosnia and Herzegovina
.be Belgium
.bg Bulgaria
.by Belarus
.ch Switzerland
.cs Czechoslovakia
.cy Cyprus
.cz Czech Republic
.de Germany
.dk Denmark
.ee Estonia
.es Spain
.eu Europe (European Union)
.fi Finland
.fo Faroe Islands
.fr France
.fr Frisia
.gb Great Britain
.gg Guernsey
.gi Gibraltar
.gr Greece
.hr Croatia
.hu Hungary
.ie Ireland
.im Isle of Man
.is Iceland
.it Italy
.je Jersey
.ks Kosovo
.li Liechtenstein
.lt Lithuania
.lu Luxembourg
.lv Latvia
.mc Monaco
.md Moldova
.me Montenegro
.mk Macedonia (the former Yugoslav Republic of)
.mt Malta
.nl Netherlands
.no Norway
.pl Poland
.pt Portugal
.ro Romania
.rs Serbia
.ru Russian Federation
.se Sweden
.si Slovenia
.sk Slovakia
.sm San Marino
.su Soviet Union
.ua Ukraine
.uk England
.uk Scotland
.uk United Kingdom
.uk Wales
.va Vatican City State
.yu Yugoslavia

 For Part Four, we cross the Mediterranean Sea and get ourselves acquainted with the many colourful flags of Africa.

Previous Articles in the Series

Part 1 – North America

Part 2 – South America

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UPDATE: I managed to find a Isle of Man ccTLD icon at the Live Members Only website.

ADDITIONAL SOURCES:
“Oldest continuously used national flag” – Guinness World Records http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/oldest-continuously-used-national-flag/
“[SchmitzIT] Animated Userflags” – SchmitzIT, xenFORO/XenForo Ltd. (27 January 2011) https://xenforo.com/community/threads/schmitzit-animated-userflags.11203/
IMAGE CREDITS:
CC Search, Creative Commons http://search.creativecommons.org/
“Template:European Australian map” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:European_Australian_map
“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
“صفحة البلاغ ترحب بكم” – balagh, page2 rss (20 October 2012) http://page2rss.com/abccc22de5fb9e5a6addc8c4618b3827
“Storage loss” – mecheez, MapleRoyals/XenForo Ltd. (14 August 2014) http://mapleroyals.com/forum/threads/storage-loss.12851/
“Forza Inter Forums” – ForzaInterForums.com http://forzainterforums.com/forum.php
“Live Members Only – Index page” – Live Members Only http://www.livemembersonly.com/

VIRTUAL VEXILLOLOGY: Animated world flags with TLDs (Part 2 – South America)

HEM Animated ccTLD Flags Ident pizap.com14318621928841

Part Two of our Animated ccTLD flags takes us to the other, hotter half of the Americas, namely South America. With the exception of a few nations, this continent is predominately Spanish speaking, and many of the flags shown here date from the independence of these countries from Spain during the 18th and 19th centuries.

As before, the countries and their flag icons will be listed in alphabetical order of TLD.

ccTLDs are based on a system developed by internet institution ICANN. The ICANN is a global forum in charge of managing some of the Net’s core technical elements, such as the domain-name system. Individual two-digit ccTLDs are managed by different organisations or statutory bodies, known as ‘country-code managers’. You can see a list of which managers run which ccTLDs at this link.

SOUTH AMERICA

(c) Wikimedia Commons

ar - Argentina

bo - Bolivia (Plurinational State of)

br - Brazil

cl - Chile

co - Colombia

ec - Ecuador

fk - Falkland Islands (Malvinas)

gs - South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

gy - Guyana

pe - Peru

py - Paraguay

sr - Suriname

uy - Uruguay

ve - Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)

.ar Argentina
.bo Bolivia (Plurinational State of)
.br Brazil
.cl Chile
.co Colombia
.ec Ecuador
.fk Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
.gs South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
.gy Guyana
.pe Peru
.py Paraguay
.sr Suriname
.uy Uruguay
.ve Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)

Next weekend, we take a long trip across the great Atlantic Ocean to visit Europe.

Previous Articles in the Series

Part 1 – North America

This article written at the HEM office in Plaistow and published in Seven Kings, LB Redbridge.

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ADDITIONAL SOURCES:
“Resources for Country Code Managers” – ICANN/Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/cctlds-21-2012-02-25-en
IMAGE CREDITS:
CC Search, Creative Commons http://search.creativecommons.org/
“File:”Political South America” CIA World Factbook.jpg” – Central Intelligence Agency, Wikimedia Commons (5 April 2014) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%22Political_South_America%22_CIA_World_Factbook.jpg
“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 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.

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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