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Yearly archive for 2012.

The emails I get from my friends have all kinds of odd puncutation marks in them; a colon followed by a close-parenthesis, or a greater-than sign, followed by a colon, followed by an open-parenthesis. These obviously mean something to the people who sent them, but they don't mean anything to me. Can you help?

Your friends are using something we call "emoticons", or "emotional icons". They are symbols which represent a particular facial expression. The best way to interpret them is to imagine them as faces tipped sideways. So if you look at this one - :), and imagine it rotated 90 degrees, you've got a smiling face, with the colon as the eyes, and the parenthesis as the smile. Here's a quick "crash course" on internet emotion indicators:

:) = smile
:D = laughing smile
:( = frown
>:( = angry (the greater-than symbol is downturned eyebrows
::) = rolling of the eyes*
:P = tongue sticking out
:-/ = sad/uncertain/mixed emotions
B) or 8) = someone wearing sunglasses "cool"
:O = surprise
;) = wink
:-[ = sad

* The eye-rolling emoticon used to be very popular, but I hardly ever see it any more.

Okay, we all got a good laugh out of Al Gore's insinuation that he invented the internet, but what is the truth? How did it really get started?

In 1962, J.C.R. Licklider of MIT proposed some ideas for a "Galactic Network", which was what he called a global network of computers, which we know as the internet.

As a head honcho at DARPA (the US Defense Advanced Research Project Agency), he convinced the agency to implement his ideas, and in 1969, ARPANET was born. ARPANET was a military network, under the control of the Department Of Defense. The first nodes to be established in this network were at UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute, followed soon by the University of Utah. And so the internet had its beginnings.

Now, Mr. Gore was in his teens and early twenties when all this was going on, so he could hardly be called a father of the internet. But keep in mind that ARPANET was merely a military "precursor" to what we know as the internet. And in 1990, Gore introduced a bill designed to fund the creation of an "information systems highway" for education. And so we must give him some credit for that piece of legislation.

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