Jargon Busting No. 14 – Emoticons

Some love them 🙂 

Some hate them 😦

They are emoticons. Emoticons are representation of facial expressions, using symbols and letters on your keyboard.  As mobile phone texting became popular users developed short cuts to letting people know how you were feeling in their message using the least number of characters. Characters mean more typing and more of the screen space used. And now in the age of Twitter emoticons help provide tweets of no more that 140 characters with some character of their own (sorry I couldn’t resist the obvious pun). If ever you have trouble working out what an emoticon is try turning your head to the left and emoticons are usually a representation but horizontal rather than vertical. 

Emoticons help give your emails, text messages and online posts tone. It can be hard for the reader of a text messages or emails to understand any jokes or sarcasm there might be, or might not be, in the message. 

But remember Dear Reader that use of emoticons is something to be considered very carefully. Poor use of emoticons can make you look like an emotional teenage girl, which might not be the look you are going for.  Emoticons do not belong in formal business emails. Emoticons do not belong in actual conversation for example ‘I’m having a great day, smiley face’. 

Now that computers and the internet have become more clever and they often turn emoticons into little symbols, but only very common emoticons such as ‘smiley face’ which is a : and a ) together :).

So next time you are sending a text or an email and want someone to know that you are happy or sad or maybe feeling something else, try the careful use of an emoticon. Here are a few examples:

smiley face   🙂 is a : and )

winking face 😉 is a ; and )

sad face 😦 is a : and (

sticking tongue out 😛 is a : and P

confused :/

heart/love ❤

If you want to learn more about emoticons just do a little internet searching and find examples that say what you want to say but remember be careful because you don’t want to look like a *<:o) (a clown) 🙂

Jargon Busting No. 9 – Netiquette

A lot of regular users of the internet think that they know everything they need to know about the etiquette of using the internet, netiquette.

It is always good to have a little reminder of how to behave politely online, as it seems to me that there are a few people who have forgotten.

Emails – make sure you…

  • Check your email regularly so people are left to wonder if their email actually arrived.
  • Proofread your emails before you hit send. Spelling mistakes and poor grammar can make you look stupid.
  • Put a subject line in your emails, that will help make sure your email actually gets read.
  • Use humour and sarcasm carefully as as tone can be difficult to understand online.
  • Keep emails short and to the point, long rambling emails are tedious and hard to read on a screen.
  • Use BCC (blind courtesy copy) when sending an email to lots of people to keep everyone’s email addresses private.
  • Don’t send emails or post online when you are upset or angry, remember the internet is forever.
  • Check the truth of any email warnings or scams before you forward them. Don’t forward hoaxes.
  • Never ever forward chain letters.

Netiquette also applies to Social Media…you should THINK before you post.

T= is it true?       Social media think

H = is it helpful?

I = is it inspiring?

N = is it necessary?

K = is it kind?

Spreading lies, rumours or just being plain old malicious online (or offline) will not end well, so use your online powers for good.

(photo credit: Twitter – @mrrobbo)

Have you got any netiquette tips or pet peeves you want to share? You have heard mine I would love to hear yours.

Jargon Busting No.7 – Hacking

Hacking is not just about black hats (bad guys) and white hats (good guys) playing with computer code. Hacking is really about ordinary people making, sharing and learning code, how to build websites, apps and all kinds of things. The things could be practical, electrical, electronic, artistic, knitted or even conductive playdoh. 

Many people think hacking is all about geeks sitting in dark rooms trying to break into government computer systems to steal secret or trying to break into banks to steal money, just like this scene from the 1995 movie Hackers. 

The reality is that hackers are ordinary people and some may play with computer code, most ‘hack’ things by making, fixing, improving and creating. Around the world there are groups called Hackerspaces where people work together, to learn and to teach.  There are Hackerspaces in over 50 countries around the world. 

Adelaide has a great Hackerspace group that is full of people tinkering, making and learning. I have recently starting hanging out at Adelaide Hackerspace and I have learnt a lot. Most recently I have been learning about websites and how to design them, administer them and make them run smoothly.

I have also been learnt more about 3D printing, and have marvelled at other members designs and creations. Hackerspaces around the world are involved in a huge variety of community activities. In Adelaide the local Hackerspace has been involved in events such as; the Mini Maker Faire, The Show and this weekend will be at Science Alive

Next on my list is to learn about is Arduino. Arduino is a supposedly ‘easy to use’ open-source electronics platform. I’ll let you know how it goes, but first I have to keep working on making this blog not only full of great content but look good. 

So the next time you try to fix the broken toaster or better still take the toaster apart and use the parts to make something else, you can call yourself a hacker. 


Jargon Buster No. 5 – Phubbing

Phubbing (verb) the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by looking at your phone instead of paying attention.

A campaign had recently been launched in Australia, to stop Phubbing. http://stopphubbing.com/


It does make me sad that there is a need for a campaign to remind people to be polite. Not acknowledging another person who is working to provide you a service it completely inexcusable and the height of arrogance. Spending time with friends and family staring at your phone and not at them is just rude. I highly doubt you will be talking to someone on your shiny smartphone about an awaiting kidney transplant whilst ordering a skinny latte. So put the phone down!!

I, Dear Reader, love my phone but treating others with dignity and respect is far more important, so next time you are out with friends or someone is providing you with a service, treat them as you would want to be treated remember to make eye contact and don’t forget say please and thank you.

Jargon Busting No. 4 – Photobombing

Squirrel photobomb

The origins of the word ‘photobombing’ is unclear with many articles online describing different stories. But my favourite is that it all started with a squirrel. 

Melissa Brandts and her husband setup a camera to take a picture of themselves whilst they were on holiday in Banff National Park, Canada. A little squirrel got curious about the noises the camera was making and ‘popped up’ and stole the shot.  Melissa uploaded the photo to Your Shot National Geographic and the photo became an internet sensation. It lead to many imitations.

Here are a couple of my favourites from izismile.com 

Squirrel moon photobomb

Sgt Pepper Squirrel photobomb




















So Dear Reader before you post any photos online it’s probably best that you check the background for someone or something (such as an animal) doing something they shouldn’t. You have been warned! 🙂

Horse photobombing wedding photo
Kelly Clarkson photobombs Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres
From http://mashable.com/2013/02/10/kelly-clarkson-photobomb-grammys/

Jargon Busting No. 2 – Youtubbing

Late on a Friday night, when you don’t want to go to bed but there is nothing on TV you can go Youtubbing

Youtubbing is the acting of going down the rabbit hole that is YouTube. When you watch a YouTube video there may links to other videos at the end of the video you just watched and on the page next to the video. You can waste hours watching videos of sneezing kittens, music videos, foreign adverts for unknown products and instructions on how to put on makeup.  

The numbers about YouTube are staggering, according to the YouTube Press Statistics:

  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month
  • 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute

This numbers a hard to comprehend, that’s a lot of film clips from cult tv programs, bad quality films of idiots falling off skateboards and people singing painful songs they wrote about lost love and broken hearts. 

But YouTube is full of useful video such as technical instructions, a search for “insert sim iphone 5” results in over 79,000 videos. Admittedly not all of them will be very helpful when it comes to working out how to put a sim card into a new iphone5, but it blows my mind that there are more than 2 videos explaining how to do it, let alone 1,000s!!  So if you have a technical problem or what to know ‘how to’ just about anything, then YouTube is likely to have the answer. 

As it’s Friday and it’s getting late as I write this, and I can’t think very seriously, here is my current favourite YouTube clip, it’s not technical or helpful but it is very clever and very funny (if you have ever owned a cat) – Sad Cat Diary.


And for the dog lovers here’s – Sad Dog Diary.


Enjoy and have a great weekend 🙂

Jargon Busting No. 1 – QR Codes

To help give my blog some structure I have decided that August will be the month of jargon busting.  I plan to explain the words, tools, apps and other ‘cool stuff’ that you may have heard about but not be entirely sure what they mean. 

The internet and social media is full of jargon that can seem overwhelming and confusing but it isn’t. It is just some new words. 

When I work with people who are learning about computers and the internet, I remind them that it doesn’t matter who old you are you can always learn new things.  I ask people to think of the first time they drove a car, and how difficult it was to remember everything, use the right pedals and drive in a straight line. Learning about using computers is the same, for a while we all kangaroo down the road, stall occasionally, we need some help learning new things and someone to keep an eye on us whilst we are learning. 

Just like learning to drive a car there is new jargon to learn, new skills to be refined and new adventures to be had using computers and the internet. 

To get the ball rolling…QR Codes.

Quick Response Codes are similar to barcodes you find on your shopping. QR Codes can be scanned by a scanning app on your smart phone.  They provide shortcuts to online content, such as websites, videos or Facebook pages.  They are becoming more common on adverts, in magazines and even in museums. 


If there are any technology words you would like more information about, please leave me a comment and I will see what I can do. 



Keeping kids off the radar

I’m surprised Dear Reader that my previous post did not create greater discussion, as I have previously been involved in face to face discussions about the pictures parents post online. A long with the different parenting styles the rules about posting photos online a different for each family.

There are all kinds of terrible stories about what can happen to photos you post online, some are more true than others. You may think you have the strongest password, but you just never know what can happen to photos you post online.  I know I have copied and pasted photos from the internet, even though I know I’m not supposed to.  

The reality is that the internet is forever, and anything you post online will be there forever so it’s a good idea to make sure you think about anything you post online.  

For what it’s worth here’s what I think about posting pictures of children online, two simple rules.  

  1. Don’t post any photos (of anyone) online you would not be happy to see up in shop window for the world to see – ever!
  2. Limit potentially embarrassing photos of your children as they are likely to not like it when they are older.  You also don’t know what impact they might have in the future. We all have embarrassing photos of ourselves but thankfully mine are in albums not online for the world to see.

In honour of this post I won’t be posting a picture of me as a baby as they are safely stored in an album in my parent’s library, but here’s a picture of Blossom the cat, ‘helping’ me watch TV.  Pets aren’t too fussy about their digital footprint 🙂

Blossom the cat in front of TV


Keeping other people off the radar

Having spent a couple of days off the radar and reflecting on how much information I share online has been personally very interesting and made me think about what I post. In the future I plan to be more considered with my online posts. I don’t want to say something just because I can, I want to make sure that when I say something it is interesting, funny or maybe even useful.

I spent today with some friends and their gorgeous baby. My mind turned to what happens when other people put you on the radar without you knowing. More specifcally what if by the time you are one year old or ten years old you have a digital footprint that you didn’t know about and don’t have any control over.

How will my friends son feel when he is a teenager or an adult knowing that somewhere out there on the Internet there are pictures of him he didn’t put there and he might not like? Interestingly my friend told me she has made a deliberate decision to only post ‘nice’ pictures of her son and not to post many pictures of him as she wants to keep his digital footprint small.

The topic of posting pictures online is a very tricky area, and there are likely to be lots of opinions. Firstly I should declare I’m not a parent but I do think it’s an interesting topic that I would like to explore further in future posts but first I turn to you Dear Reader.

There is a whole industry of books, websites and experts offering parenting advice and most of the parents I know find and use what works for them and their family. There are lots of different ways to successfully raise a child.

I would be interested to hear what you have found works for you and your family when it comes to posting pictures and information online.

– What do you think about posting pictures of your children online?
– Do you have any rules about what you will and won’t post?
– Do you post the names of your children online?
– Do your children know their pictures are posted online?
– Do you have your own rules about posting pictures and information about your children online?

As I said I don’t know what the right answer is but I would like to explore this topic further.

Any comments happily received. 🙂

Going off the radar

I have had a great day on the third of my holiday in Brisbane. I’ve had a day of catching up with friends, lunching, being a tourist and then a glorious dinner with friends.

And not once did I share what I was up to online.

I conducted a little experiment with myself about how I would feel not checking in on Foursquare, taking pictures on Instagram and posting comments on Twitter or Facebook.

I have to tell you Dear Reader if felt weird. Over the years I have become so used to reaching for my phone when I’m doing something interesting (or banal) and posting details or photos online. The best of the process is checking my phone later and getting feedback whether that be likes or comments. The sense of ‘hooray someone noticed’ is palpable. I hadn’t realised just how palpable until i spent a day not seeking or receiving that feedback.

I feel a little embarrassed admitting but I do love it when someone leaves a comment along the lines of ‘I wish I was there’. There is probably several PhDs in the sociology of using social media for positive reinforcement and validation but I know that there are times when I consciously, and often not, seek validation and positive reinforcement from my online contacts. What I wonder and will continue to monitor in myself, is if this is something habitual or just something I do for a bit of a pick me up.

So today I spent the day with myself and my friends not posting anything online at all today except this post. What I did today will remain a secret except to those who were there IRL (in real life) or are unfortunate enough to sit through my long travel stories.

For the record I don’t think my ego felt the difference but that might have been the sense of smug self satisfaction of being on holiday when everyone else is at work. But we Dear Reader shall see…

And because pictures of radars aren’t cute, here’s picture with a tenuous link to ‘going off the radar’