Y’know all of those posts and articles about the changes that the English language has undergone since the invention of short message services (Instant Messaging, SMS, Twitter etc)? The ones which start with a phrase along the lines of ‘SMS is changing the way we communicate. Subtlety, nuance and meaning are being pushed aside in the name of brevity and frankly, it scares me.’? Yeah no, this isn’t going to be one of those posts.

I agree that abbreviations and emoticons are changing the way that we communicate. I agree that subtlety, nuance and meaning are rarely considered when it comes to short-form communication. However, I put it to you that these forms of communication are not the place for subtlety. It’s hard to read between the lines when your sentence contains but one line.

In light of this, I present to you my condensed list of emoticons and abbreviations and their appropriate uses. Hopefully this will shed some light on these common phrases and will help you to understand why your doting grandmother is laughing out loud at news of the recent passing of your family pet.

If I’ve missed any, shout out in the comments and I’ll revise the list.

  • lol = Laugh Out Loud
    A misnomer if you ask me. The brazen lie of this abbreviation becomes obvious when working in an office that allows it’s staff to use instant messaging to communicate. Very rarely does “lol” actually mean that the loller is in fact physically laughing out loud, it simply means that they acknowledge that something is funny. (Lots Of Love is the deprecated definition of this abbreviation. Can make things a little awkward: “Sorry to hear about your dead pet lol”)
  • haha/gahaha
    On par with lol.
  • LOL = Laugh Out Loud (no, for reals this time)
    The capitalisation of the acronym should be used to imply the presence of actual laughter.
  • ROFL = Rolling On The Floor Laughing
    No, generally users of this abbreviation aren’t actually rolling on the floor. This is simply a grade above LOL in the funniness stakes.
    On par with ROFL.
    Rolling On The Floor Laughing So Hard My Sombrero Fell Off And I Dropped My Taco

    Does this really need an explanation?
  • TL;DR = Too long; didn’t read
    Used to provide a reader with a cliff-notes/short version of the longer body of text. For example, “[Huge wall of text complaining about the weather] TL;DR It was raining today. I didn’t like it.” Also often used in a dismissive fashion to note that a piece of text is too long.
  • brb = Be Right Back
    The user will be afk for a short period of time.
  • afk = Away From Keyboard
    The author will be online, but away from their keyboard until further notice.
  • afaik = As Far As I Know
    As far as the author is aware.
  • 🙂
    When used at the end of a sentence, the presence of a smiley face informs the reader that the preceding text was meant to be taken positively.
  • 😛
    When used at the end of a sentence, the presence of the pokey-out-tongue face informs the reader that the preceding text was meant in jest and not to be taken seriously.
  • 🙁
    A sadface informs the reader that the author is unhappy about the current subject of conversation.
  • >:(
    The author is both sad and angry.
  • >:)
    The author is being cheeky/devious.
  • ಠ_ಠ
    Look of disapproval. The author disapproves of the subject of conversation.
  • (yಠ,ಠ)y
    The Y U NO guy.
  • \m/>.<\m/
    Dude throwin’ up the horns. Rocking out. Rock and/or Roll.
  • ..|.,
    You just got given the finger.
  • *
    Used to repair a mistype in a recent IM message or similar.
    “I like caek. It is yummy.”


    Or, Why you should be playing Left 4 Dead.

    Warning – this is my longest post to date – more of an article I guess?

    Co-operative play is Something that we have desired for a very long time. PC gamers have long been jealous of the ease of access to co-operative experiences which console owners enjoy.

    There have not been many games that have been released for PC which have co-operative play as their primary aim. Typically, PC gamers are required to wrestle co-operative experiences from games like a farmhand attempting to milk a surly cow. We have been required to utilise third party mods, laborious multi-player AI or to endure lazy first-party implementations which subject the players to a disjointed mish-mash of play due to the developer’s inability to work out how to get certain levels and cutscenes to work with two simultaneous viewers.

    I’m going to put aside Real Time Strategy (RTS) games and team-based multiplayer titles for the moment. I am focusing specifically on games which are carefully crafted by the developers to give a group of players a co-operative experience against the game environment.

    My first positive Co-op memories are of playing X-Wing Vs Tie Fighter over Parallel Serial/LPT cables at Nozz’s place. We had so much fun playing a game co-operatively for once that we just had to find more games which offered the feature.
    We found other titles like Duke Nukem 3D, Quake, Quake II, MOO 2, Diablo II etc. Unfortunately, we soon found ourselves running out of options. There were other titles available to us yes, but these required us to use unreliable (at the time) third-party patches like Sven Co-op for Half Life or strange contortions in order to fluke a level or two of co-operative fun.

    The driving force in co-op games these days seem to be the consoles. Due to their nature, co-op is almost a requirement. “There are four controllers on there, so we’d better make games that utilise them”. Unfortunately, this means that PC gamers have to rely on dodgy ports in order to get a taste of sweet sweet co-op play.
    Gears of War is a good example of this. Ported to the PC in July 2007, Gears landed on PC hard drives with a small amount of fanfare. The port was usable, but riddled with phrases like “Press A to continue” – not to mention the awful implementation of Windows (read:Xbox-Lite) Live. All this, after a full eight-month development cycle following the the Xbox 360 release!

    Things were not looking good.

    Then came Left 4 Dead.
    Valve Corporation are a force to be reckoned with. The producers of arguably the best first person shooter (FPS) of all time, Half-Life, Valve have come to the market with great game after great game. I own the entire Valve back-catalog and I have not been disappointed with any of the games on the list. Most notably, Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead.

    Left 4 Dead is a four-player co-operative FPS set during the Zombie Apocalypse. Do I even need to finish this post? How does that not sound awesome?!

    The basic premise of the game is four human players join together as the Survivors. Their goal is simple: Get from one Safe Room to the next without being killed by HORDES OF THE LIVING DEAD. Sounds easy right? I mean, you get guns and zombies are just slow, shambling things aren’t they? Not true. The zombies in L4D are subscribers to 28 Days Later School of Incredibly Fast Locomotion.
    If that wasn’t bad enough, add to this the inclusion of the Special Infected. This band of gory malcontents include:

    • The Hunter – a zombie with the ability to leap great distances and pounce on a Survivor’s chest, pinning them to the ground to await rescue from a team-mate,
    • The Smoker – A slow-moving zombie with an incredibly long, prehensile tongue that it uses to grab, drag and constrict survivors again necessitating intervention from a team-mate,
    • The Boomer – a bloated sack of bile which excels at projectile-vomiting on the Survivors, coating them in its sickly goo, or exploding in a spray of the same substance. The kicker (as the Americans say) is that any Survivors coated in goop attract a horde of the undead to their position.
    • The Tank: A huge, hulking monstrosity which moves very fast, punches survivors off into the distance in order to separate them and can tear up huge chunks of masonry to throw as a ranged attack. Tanks have an incredible amount of hitpoints and require the firepower of a full compliment of Survivors to take down.
    • The Witch: What you might consider to be an non-threatening emo-kid crying in the corner is in fact one of the most threatening zombies in the game. She sits in place, minding her own business unless startled. Once she is peeved, she will doggedly chase the offending Survivor until she reaches them and swipes at them with her huge claws. This will usually incapacitate a Survivor in one hit, or outright kill them on higher difficulties.

    The beauty of this game is the fact that it requires you to work together. A group of Survivors who are greedy with health packs/painkillers, separate, or do nothing to protect each other are not long for this world. The inclusion of inherent voice communication means that players can communicate almost instantaneously, giving them all of the tools they need to work together. Incidentally, I highly recommend playing this in the same room as the other players, or changing your voice settings to always-on. This adds a lot to the atmosphere of the game as you hear every shriek and freak-out from the other Survivors.

    I could go on. I could mention the fact that you can drop in and out at will using the (ever-improving) matchmaking system, take breaks without ruining the experience for the others by going to Idle and allowing the AI to take over for you, or the included eight-player Versus mode in which four other players take on the roll of the Special Infected(!) – but I won’t. This post just hit 1033 words so I’ll leave it there.

    Long story short: Go and buy Left 4 Dead.


    Blogging is interesting.

    So far I’ve received both positive and negative (yet, constructive) criticism of my blog. Most of the positive comments have been along the lines of “Its good to see that you’ve started a blog!” and “I’m glad that the blog is a source of creative output for you”. The negative comments have been varied, too much simple linking that can be found on any number of sites like Digg, Google Reader, Kotaku etc. ‘Oh, I thought it was going to be a blog about you and Amy’, etc.

    I’d just like to take a moment to give you a better look at my initial idea for this blog;
    The plan is to post about things that I find interesting, exciting, fun or annoying. The fact that I do tend to read quite a few tech/gaming blogs will mean that I will be posting about material that is readily available from many sources. In the spirit of working with constructive criticism, I will be endeavouring to add my own spin to these sort of articles in the future in order to avoid simply linking other sites. I would like to do some product/game/book/movie reviews at some stage.

    I also plan to post about my life with Amy and what we’re up to, but I’ve yet to decide how to tackle this. I’m not sure how comfortable I/we are with the idea of posting about our personal life and events. I will make a decision about this in the coming months.

    I should also note that I read a lot of webcomics. Subsequently, I will most likely be linking to ones that I find particularly funny. As has been evidenced, Penny Arcade is by far my favourite. Expect to see more as we move on.

    The long and the short of it is that this blog is quite simply a list of thoughts that crossed my mind. If I see something cool, I’ll post about it. If something fun or interesting happens in my day-to-day life, I’ll post about it. If I do something that other people might benefit from, I’ll post about it.
    If I have an idea about how something should be done, I’ll post about it. Actually, I probably won’t post about it. I don’t know that I have the cojones required to authoritatively post an opinion on something and be able to back up my thoughts in the comments. We’ll see.

    Also, please keep the (constructive) comments coming. It is quite common for your peers, friends and family to know you better than you know yourself. If there is something that you’d like to see me post about, please let me know.