A video tutorial for installing bookmarklets in mobile Safari is also included.
15 December 2012
In 2012, the emoticon as we know it turned thirty years old. A lot of us take it for granted that we can convey emotion through text using constructs like :) and :( and O_O, but there was a time when using one of these faces would be met with a confused frown and ridicule. How did such a prominent feature of modern day communication even come about?
Believe it or not, even though emoticons as we know them today are thirty years old, they have a long history before the invention of the computer. Some say that emoticons were used on paper up to 150 years ago. That’s a lot of time to cover, but join me as I look at that span and trace the birth of our beloved :-).
The Prehistory of Emoticons
When we look back in history to pinpoint the first time someone ever created a smiley-face with English characters, a lot of people will point to Abraham Lincoln. Yes, the same Lincoln that became the 16th President of the United States and emancipated the slaves. Take a look at his speech above and you’ll notice a stray ;) face. Some say it’s an emoticon; others just a typo.
In 1881, a United States magazine called Puck published a number of typographical emotion points that were meant to convey emotion through text. These points were a far cry from what we know today, but they had the same intentions. For example, consider the “snigger point,” which is written as \___/! and is meant to represent smiling lips.
But if we step back even farther back in time, we’d see that there were already a good number of punctuation points meant to convey emotion. The exclamation point, for instance, can convey anger or excitement; the question mark, confusion; the percontation point could convey sasrcasm or irony.
But punctuation points aren’t emoticons. Emoticons are typographical representations of actual facial expressions. Up until now, everything was just building towards the emoticons of modern lingo.
The History of Our Emoticons
In 1982, professor Scott Fahlman at Carnegie Mellon University explicitly proposed two unique typographical facial expressions that were to be used intentionally for emotion: :-) and :-(. Take a look below to see the actual transcript of this proposal:
Luckily for the not-yet-prevalent Internet, these smiley faces exploded in popularity and began to be used on a widespread basis. From there, human creativity was the only limit when it came to altering these faces into other emotions. When you’re joking? :-P. When you’re being sly? ;-). When you’re laughing? :-D.
The draw of emoticons was that they could be used anywhere that regular text could be used. Emails, instant messages, chatrooms, webpages–if you could type, you could convey emotion. And while it stayed like that for a few decades, it didn’t end there.
The Evolution of Emoticons Beyond Text
Enter the world of graphical and animated emoticons. Message boards and forums ran away with the whole emoticons fad and began to replace text faces with images. Even some instant messengers, like Skype, ran with the idea and started making emoticons for things that weren’t even emotion-related!
Nowadays, emoticons support is almost necessary for anything social. Human interaction is predicated on facial cues and expressions, which means that text needs to have emoticons in order to set the tone of a statement or question. That’s why big social brands like Facebook implement emoticons support.
And for those times where you need super awesome emoticons, there’re always Emojicon.
So there you have it: the humble beginnings of what has now become a global phenomenon in text-based communication. It’s hard to imagine where we would be if professor Scott Fahlman had never made his proposal; it’s equally hard to imagine where we’re going to go from here. Will emoticons be phased out? Will they evolve into some other form? What do you think?
The post The Emoticon Is Thirty! But Where Did It Come From? [Geek History] appeared first on MakeUseOf.
13 December 2012
If you feel overwhelmed with things you don’t care about, there are several simple solutions. You can, of course, unfollow the friend who keeps talking about football, and unfollow the colleague who keeps becoming the Mayor of his office, but by doing that you might be hurting someone’s feeling, or just losing touch with someone who’s actually interesting some of the time. Another option is to create Twitter lists, and keep an eye on users or subjects that really interest you, but this doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself reading tweets you simply don’t care about.
When these options are not good enough, there’s a third option: filters. Unfortunately, these filters depend on Twitter’s API, which keeps changing, and are also not liked by Twitter in general. Many such services that used to exist are now defunct, and finding some that actually work turned out to be quite a challenge. But worry not, here at MakeUseOf we’re always up for a challenge, and I’ve managed to find several ways for you to filter out annoying or just unnecessary updates.
TweetDeck (& Other Clients)Many Twitter clients offer the ability to filter out keywords, phrases, users and/or sources. I will focus on TweetDeck for the purpose of this post, but other clients such as Destroy Twitter, Hibari and Tweetings also offer this feature.
To create a filter on TweetDeck, click on the cog icon and access the Settings. From here, choose Global Filters, and set the filters of your choice. On TweetDeck, you can filter out keywords, phrases, users and sources. Note that these filters are global, and will apply to all the users you’re managing through TweetDeck.
This option exists only in TweetDeck’s desktop client, and not on the Chrome app.
This is only the beginning of what Flitter has to offer, however. From the Settings menu, you can also created aliases, which include users, search terms or both, and can help you get updates that match to the criteria you set. You can also set priorities to each and every one of the people you follow, to determine which ones you care more about, without entirely giving up on others.
Filttr is a brilliant way to take charge of your Twitter stream, if you can get used to its quirky color scheme and interface. It even has a mobile interface, if you need one.
Open Tweet Filter [Chrome]If you’d rather use Twitter’s regular Web interface, you can opt for a Chrome extension. Open Tweet Filter adds a filtering feature to the usual Twitter interface, and lets you filter out any keyword, hashtag or username you wish. To set your filters, go to twitter.com and click on the cog icon. You’ll see that a new “Filters” option has been added. This where you can set your new filters.
If you choose to receive reports on filtered tweets, you’ll find them on the left side of the interface, right under your profile summary. There’s no easy way to see which tweets have been filtered, but you can always disable the filter to get your tweets back. Easy and simple.
Slipstream [Chrome]Slipstream is yet another Chrome extension with filtering abilities, which you can use to hide tweets from certain users or subjects, from some or all of your timelines. Like Open Tweet Filter, Slipstream works on Twitter’s regular Web interface. There are two ways to use Slipstream: you can create filters using the Slipstream menu on the left side of your interface, or click “hide” on tweets you don’t want to see to create an automatic (yet editable) filter.
You can also create sophisticated filters by combining users with keywords. For example, you can decide to hide tweets by certain users, only when they tweet about subjects you don’t like. This is very useful if you have friends who tend to tweet about boring things, but still tweet some things you don’t want to miss.
ConclusionThe bottom line of all this is that you don’t have to put up with things you don’t want to read. Twitter is a bustling social network with lots of traffic, and taming this traffic somewhat can really help you stay updated on the truly important stuff.
What do you think about filtering tweets? Is it better to unfollow people and be done with it? Do you know of other tools for filtering out annoying tweets?
The first thing you need to know is that in order to get a really polished, really original and really good-looking Timeline cover, you’ll have to work. If you know how to use Photoshop, that will probably yield the best results of all. But if, like me, you’re somewhat graphically challenged, the apps below are shortcuts that can help you create something nice even without the super duper graphics software.
Keep in mind, however, that you’ll need to work at it even with these apps, if you want to get really good results. If you don’t, you can still create some really cool Timeline covers in just a few minutes, but don’t expect them to be featured on Smashing Magazine!
The point of Slicetige is in its name – slicing. You can create any cover photo with this app, especially if you opt for the Plus version, but its uniqueness comes from the ability to slice your avatar from your cover picture, as you can see below.
To try it out, I’ve uploaded a photo of myself, and positioned it so my face is in the avatar window. I can then slice this avatar, and export it to use on Facebook. By using this cover photo and this avatar, I’ve created a pretty cool effect. And you can create much better things if you put some thought into it. In fact, the options are pretty endless.
Unfortunately, in my case, the results were just a bit disappointing, as the fit wasn’t perfect when I placed it on Facebook, but with some creativity, you can create some neat things your friends will keep asking about.
Note that Slicetige produces avatars which are 160×160. While this is the actual size of profile picture, Facebook wants them to be at least 180×180, so make sure to resize your avatar accordingly.
Tricked Out Timeline lets you choose between four different Timeline effects: the sliced effect, the missing puzzle piece effect, the torn bottom effect and the profile picture zoom effect (or “eect”, as it’s repeatedly spelled on the website).
The interface will take you through creating the effect of your choice, which will take no more than a minute, and will let you download the result. Remember, you need to Like their page in order to download.
As for results, they were somewhat better than Slicetige’s, but still not completely perfect with this specific picture. I’m starting to think I need to find a better picture to try.
CoverJunction is a reservoir of hundreds of cover photos, many of which are of the “smart” variety, such as this one.
There are many options to choose from, including many regular cover photos with no pun in sight. If you find a photo you’d like to snag as your Timeline cover, you won’t be able to download it and add it yourself; rather, CoverJunction will ask to access your Facebook account, where it will create an album called CoverJunction, and place the image there.
If you don’t want the app to post a link on your Timeline as well, make sure to set the “who can see posts this app makes” setting to “Only Me” when you grant it access. This way it won’t spam your friends.
After the app adds your selected cover to your albums, you can change your Facebook cover photo to it as you normally would. You should then promptly remove the app’s access from your account through Privacy Settings –> Ads, Apps and Websites – Apps you use. And voila, you have a beautiful new cover!
ConclusionWhen I set out to write this post, I wasn’t sure I would be able to find many new additions to the cover-creation sphere. After all, it’s been 7 months since I created the last collection – an eternity in the world of apps. I was surprised to find that there aren’t many more apps out there, but if you want to try creating your own Timeline cover, these are some great options.
Did you create something cool? Do you know of other good places to create Timeline covers? Tell us in the comments.