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Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 14th 2017

Happy Valentine’s Day or as Super Emoji Translator would say 😀 ❤ 📅.

We’d like to use this occasion to announce the creation of our love collection @ http://loove.love/ So far we’ve only got two properties in this portfolio – our Heart Emojis website and the Love Calculator – but fear not loyal follower, we’ve got plans for more.

Have a wonderful day, and thank you for enduring this shameless promotion of our websites!

For some ideas to spice up your Valentine’s Day messages check out last year’s post, here.

XOXO,
the textual lovers at VeryTextual

What is ASCII?

February 12th 2017

You’ve probably heard of ASCII and have some vague idea of what it is. Well, in this post, we’d like to give you a quick summary of what ASCII really is.

When you type text on a computer (such as letters, punctuation marks, etc) this text is converted into a numerical representation. Ultimately everything on a computer is represented in binary (0s and 1s) and text is no different. Every character you type has its own unique binary representation. The exact representation of a particular character depends on what character set and encoding is used. There are many character sets and encodings that a typical computer supports – ASCII is one of the earliest and all modern computers support ASCII.

You might be familiar with the ASCII table, which basically maps letters, numbers, punctuation marks, and non printable characters to a series of decimal numbers from 0 to 127 (that’s 0 to 127 inclusive or 128 characters). These 128 characters form the character set of ASCII – their numeric representation forms the encoding component of ASCII. In other words, a character set defines the set of possible characters and an encoding defines how each of these characters are numerically represented. The ASCII standard defines both. Converting the decimal representation of a character to binary will give you the actual internal representation of this character.

Although ASCII was at one point the dominant standard for documents, web pages, etc, it is rarely used today. Instead most modern documents and web pages use the Unicode character set along with the UTF-8 encoding.  The primary problem with ASCII is that it only defines 128 characters. While this is enough for the Latin alphabet (English) it is not nearly enough for other languages, and other characters such as emoji. Unicode on the other hand is built to support over a million characters, and using Unicode one can combine English text, Chinese characters, and emoji all in the same document.

We hope that this has given you a basic understanding of ASCII! Tune in next time for more textually awesome information.

It’s 2017!

January 29th 2017

It’s 2017! 🎇

Yes, I know we’re a bit late to the party, but without further ado, here are our highlights from 2016:

Cheers everyone for another great year!

Our Christmas Gift For You

December 25th 2016

The elves at VeryTextual are hard at work on a Christmas gift. It will be coming soon. Check back later today! (In emoji: 🎄 🎁 🔜)

Update: We’ve resurrected the infamous Unicode Snowman. He’s back and he’s snowier than ever.

Happy Holidays

December 24th 2016

Although we haven’t posted in a while, we’re still alive. We promise.

In any case, it’s finally that time of year again! So bring out the eggnog and let’s emoji. Below are some common holiday emojis for your copyin’ and pastin’:

Christmas Emojis

Christmas Tree Emoji (U+1F384) – 🎄
Santa Claus Emoji (U+1F385) – 🎅

Hanukkah Emojis

Menorah Emoji (U+1F54E) – 🕎
Star of David (U+2721) – ✡

From the textual text lovers at VeryTextual, happy holidays!

Zalgo Text Generator’s Incredible Halloween

November 6th 2016

The picture says it all:

Zalgo Text Generator Halloween Traffic Spike

ZalgoTextGenerator.com had an incredible Halloween, reaching a record high level of traffic.

At VeryTextual.com, our happiness is directly correlated to website traffic. So thank you for giving us the equivalent of giant 1-pound Snickers bar (yes, it does exist!).

As a token of appreciation, we’ve written you a pretty awful haiku:

Open analytics –
a big dot high in the sky!
Woo, it’s Halloween.

How is Adopt a Character doing after 9 months?

September 24th 2016

After a long hiatus of Adopt a Character coverage, we’re back : )

But first a quick refresher on what Adopt a Character is:

Back in December 2015, the Unicode Consortium launched a new initiative to raise money by allowing people to sponsor Unicode characters. Unicode is the character set which makes it possible to write/send electronic text in almost every conceivable human language. Unicode is also what powers emojis – every cross-platform compatible emoji is essentially a Unicode character.  Here’s some more information on Adopt a Character.

So, how much has Adopt a Character raised so far?

The last time we checked up on the Unicode Consortium’s Adopt a Character program was back in May. At that point, 5 months after the launch, the Unicode Consortium had raised about 88k.  Well, it’s now been roughly 9 months and we did the math… it looks like the Unicode Consortium has raised 135k.  Here’s the breakdown:

  • 19 Gold Sponsors X $5,000 each = $95,000 (+$35,000 from May 20th)
  • 7 Silver Sponsor X $1,000 each = $7,000 (+$3,000 from May 20th)
  • 332 Bronze Sponsors X $100 each = $33,200 (+$8,900 from May 20th)
  • Total: $135,200 (+$46,900 from May 20th)

Our Analysis: A Steady Decline In Donations

Decline EmojiNow let’s do some very rough calculations. On March 1st, approximately 2.5 months after launch, Adopt a Character had raised $51,700, which is about $20,680 / month ($51.7k / 2.5). From March to May (2.5 months), Adopt a Character raised an additional $36,600, or roughly $18,300 / month ($36.6k / 2).  Since May (4 months), Adopt a Character has raised another $46,900 or $11,725 / month ($135.2k / 4). While these numbers don’t tell the whole story, what we see here is a steady pattern of decline in monthly donations.  From about $21k a month, to $18k to $12k.

An Interesting Change in Policies

Clearly, the Silver category is the biggest laggard, having raised only 7k – that’s just 7 donations – since December 2015. It seems like the Unicode Consortium has changed it’s policies to try and increase Silver donations.

All sponsors are listed on the Unicode Consortium website, here. When Adopt a Character first launched, only Gold sponsors were allowed to link back to their website. Silver and Bronze sponsors received a call out with their name but no hyperlink. While we do not know the exact date that this policy changed, as of today, both Silver and Gold sponsors are entitled to a link back (information here).

We’ll return in a couple months to see if this change in policy has any impact on Silver donations, but as of now any impact seems minimal. As Rachel Maddow says, watch this space.

Unicode’s Birthday is in October

August 11th 2016

Unicode DayAll this talk of Emoji Day over the last month got us thinking about Unicode – the underappreciated character set that makes cross-platform emoji possible. Actually, here at VeryTextual, we are always thinking about Unicode, but the Emoji Day celebrations got us particularly interested in celebrating Unicode.

As a quick recap, Unicode is a “character set” which is basically a set of a characters (a-z, A-Z, 0-9, accents, punctuation marks, emojis, etc) that computers treat as text. Unicode isn’t the only the character set (there are hundreds of others), but the advantage of Unicode is that it includes the characters of nearly all human languages currently in use, and some historic ones as well. This means that, using the same Unicode character set, I can type English (latin alphabet) as well as Traditional Chinese.

So anyway, roughly every year new characters are added to Unicode. The last update was in June 2016.  The first version of Unicode (1.0) was release in October of 1991. So why isn’t there a Unicode Day? Sandwiches have a day, ice cream has a day…. there’s even a National Picnic Day. If picnics get a day, we think Unicode certainly deserves one too. So this October, we will be launched a Unicode Day celebration in honor of Unicode! We’re still just getting this started, so if you have any suggestions, let us know.

Happy Emoji Day!

July 17th 2016

July 17th is Emoji DayIt’s finally Emoji Day! So grab your emoji face costume, take a selfie, and tweet with #EmojiDay. Oh, and we’re also giving away free emoji keyboards at EmojiDay.com.  🎉 📷 📝 📅.  That’s right. Free emoji keyboards. Finally, we’ve launched two new websites, Super Emoji Translator to translate your text into emojis and Random Emoji Phrase which shows you a random emoji phrase. #EmojiDay2016 #ItsEmojiDay

Emoji Day is July 17th

July 11th 2016

If there’s one day in the year that’s super special to us, it’s Emoji Day.

Why?

‘Cause it’s Emoji Day. I mean it’s Emoji Day.

So when exactly is Emoji Day?

We’re so glad you asked! It’s July 17th which this years falls on Sunday. In other words, Emoji Day is this Sunday. I know we’re being repetitive…. Emoji Day is just so special to us.

July 17th is not the birthday of emojis as you might (incorrectly) assume. Instead, it’s the date that Apple depicts on it’s calendar emoji… people just started celebrating on July 17th because of Apple’s calendar emoji, and it soon caught on that July 17th was “emoji day”. Other vendors include different dates on their calendar emojis, so there’s a little bit of confusion as to what date Emoji Day is, but at this point, July 17th has kind of been accepted as the de facto Emoji Day.

So, what do I do on Emoji Day?

Another good question! We’ve been putting together some awesome stuff just for you. Head over to our Emoji Day website, http://EmojiDay.com/, and check out the Celebrate section for some ideas. Also, this isn’t official yet, but we’re tentatively planning on giving away some super cool emoji swag – emoji keyboards, emoji t-shirts, maybe emoji costumes. Shoot us a note if you have an idea 🙂

tl;dr: So anyway, join the Emoji Day party here.

Text Flipping for the Common Man

May 24th 2016

Here at VeryTextual, we firmly believe that upside down text is a right, not a privilege. No internet citizen should be denied the ability to flip their text upside down and make it obnoxiously difficult to read. 

Let’s take a stand, and say NO to the epidemic of boring text.

To do our part, we’d like to announce the purchase of the domains FlipTextGenerator.com and FlipThisText.com.  These domains were previously home to what we’d consider… ahem, sub-par… flip text websites.

Welcome to the good life, former users of FlipTextGenerator.com and FlipThisText.com! Both these websites now redirect to UpsideDownText.com. As owners of UpsideDownText.com, it is our totally unbiased opinion that our website provides the best text flipping experience. Flip some text and see for yourself.

To conclude, “flip that text round and punoɹ, watch it go wow oh ʍoʍ”.

How is Adopt a Character doing after 5 months?

May 20th 2016

tl;dr: Not bad

It’s been roughly 5 months since the Unicode Consortium launched its Adopt a Character program to raise funds for continued Unicode development. We wanted to check in again and tally up how much money has been raised.

If this is your first time hearing about Adopt a Character, read our post here. In short, Adopt a Character, launched in December 2015, allows people to “adopt” (sponsor) emojis or other characters for a donation. There are three levels of sponsorship, Bronze, Silver, and Gold, which require a pledge of $100, $1k, and $5k respectively.

So how’s the Unicode Consortium doing?

From our latest tally of donations it looks like the Unicode Consortium has raised 88k since the Adopt a Character campaign began in December.  Here’s the breakdown:

  • 12 Gold Sponsors X $5,000 each = $60,000 (+$20,000 from March 1st)
  • 4 Silver Sponsor X $1,000 each = $4,000 (+$3,000 from March 1st)
  • 243 Bronze Sponsors X $100 each = $24,300 (+$13,600 from March 1st)
  • Total: $88,300 (+$36,600 from March 1st)

More MoneyWe last tallied up donations in early March (here). So in the last roughly 2.5 months, the Unicode Consortium has more than doubled its Bronze donations, and received 3 new Silver & 4 new Gold sponsors. Interestingly, there seem to be some repeat donors. Adobe made 1 gold and 2 silver donations and a company called Elastic, which appears to be focused on data insight software, made 2 gold donations.

When Adopt a Character first launched it received a fair amount of buzz. Despite the lack of press coverage now, Adopt a Character is still receiving donations. We’d say that’s “not bad”. Go Unicode!

Will you be our Twitter follower?

May 2nd 2016

We be, we be so textual.
Writing rhymes that ain’t forgettable.

In one-forty characters that are inspirational,
We’ll change the world with @VeryTextual

Mother’s Day Emoji Messages

May 1st 2016

It’s May and Mother’s day is a week away (Sunday, May, 8th to be exact). Here are some heartfelt emoji messages to get you started:

  • I ❤ you. Thank you 👩.
  • 🍻 to you 👩. Happy Mother’s Day! 🎉
  • Sorry I couldn’t make it 🏠 today. I’m 💭 about you. To the 🔝 mom, happy Mother’s Day!
  • From 👶 to 🎓, thanks for putting up with me. Happy Mother’s Day Mom❣
  • 🌹s are red. Violets are blue. 🎂 is sweet. And so are you. Happy Mother’s Day Mom❣
  • 😍 Mom 😍 I ❤ you. Happy Mother’s Day❣

We at VeryTextual, wish you and your family a very happy Mother’s Day. No matter what you send your mom, don’t forget the heart emoji. ❤

ROFL Emoji

April 18th 2016

Remember when people used to say rofl? According to Google Trends, the term “rofl” peaked around 2009 and 2010. It’s been trending down since then.

Unicode is a bit late on this one, but a rofl emoji has finally been proposed for the Unicode 9 standard, set for release in June of this year. The rofl emoji will be perfect for when a standard laughing emoji (or lol) just isn’t enough.

So here it is! The images below are two sample renderings from the Unicode Consortium website. Of course, Apple, Google, and other vendors are free to design these emojis as they want, but the final designs are usually similar to the sample renditions published by the Unicode Consortium. Expect to see these emojis a couple months after the anticipated June release (the vendors need time to release software upgrades that include the new emojis):

ROFL Emoji ROFL Emoji

Dumplings, Fortune Cookies, Chopsticks, and Chinese Takeout

April 13th 2016

On December 16, 2015, Jennifer Lee began a Kickstarter campaign for the dumpling emoji. Her protest was simple. Dumplings are universal, from the Polish pierogi to the Italian ravioli to the Japanese gyoza. So shouldn’t there be a dumpling emoji? After all, there’s an emoji for pizza, tacos, hamburgers, sushi, fried shrimp, shaved ice, and more than 40 other types of food.

We support you Jennifer and fellow dumpling team members. And we’re happy to announce that 2 months ago (yes, we’re a bit late), they won! Well almost. The dumpling emoji was presented to the Unicode committee along with a fortune cookie, chopsticks, and takeout box emoji. All four emojis are now included as official emoji candidates, and will likely be included in the Unicode 10 specification set for release in June 2017. There’s still the possibility that objections to the inclusion of these emojis will be raised, but we’re more than likely to see these emojis in the official Unicode specification next year.

So let’s give a big clap (👏) for the team behind these wondeful new emoji! Congratulations! We hope to follow in your lead with our shot emoji.

Dumpling EmojiFortune Cookie EmojiChopsticks EmojiTakeout Box Emoji

The New HeartSymbol.Love

April 5th 2016

We hate to call it HeartSymbol 2.0 cause that sounds so 2004 (think “Web 2.0”). But we’ve made a lot of upgrades to HeartSymbol.love and we’d like to share:

Heart

  1. Collections: We’ve split up the heart symbols into a number of collections (Hearts, Faces, Cats, Kisses, Couples, etc). When you first visit the website you will still see all the symbols, but you can select a collection for quick access to a particular set. See it in action on the upper right.
  2. Symbol Information: You can now click on a symbol for more information about it! Each symbol now has it’s own dedicated page which lists HTML codes and Unicode information. Here’s an example for the classic heart.
  3. Simplified Browsing: Each symbol information page has left and/or right arrows that can be used to navigate through the list of symbols without having to return to the home page. If you’re browsing symbols in a particular category, the left and right arrows will allow you to page through that category. Check out that classic heart example above.
  4. The List: For all you party poopers out there who don’t really like our standard symbol browsing experience, we’ve added a list page. The list page shows all the symbols, along with the symbol name, HTML code and Unicode code point. It’s a quick way to get the information you need. Here it is.
  5. The Text: We know you love to read those humorous (I don’t need a 💍. Just a big 💎) or sometimes corny (from 👫 to 💑, forever 💕) blurbs that randomly display on the front page. Well, it’s your lucky day. We’ve put them all together on the “text” page for easy access. Check it out.
  6. The History: Cause who doesn’t want to know the history of the heart? We know you certainly do.

We hope that you ❤ the new HeartSymbol.love. Let us know if you have any feedback or suggestions!

Where’s the Shot Emoji?

March 20th 2016

When you’re having steak, you’re gonna get some wine (🍷) preferably a Cabernet Sauvignon. When you’re up on your March Madness bracket, it’s time for a beer (🍺) or even two beers (🍻). When you’re chilling in the Bahamas, there’s a tropical drink (🍹)… when you’re having sushi, there’s sake (🍶). And when you’re sipping a cosmo at Onieal’s, well there’s the cocktail emoji (🍸).

But what about when you’re at a bar doing shots? What do you say?

That’s right. Believe it or not, there is no shot emoji. Check your iPhone if you don’t believe us. It’s not there.

We want to change that. We will launching a petition shortly to add the shot emoji to Unicode. We hope that next time St Patrick’s Day roles around, you’ll be able to cheers appropriately, in emoji. Stay tuned here for more information.

P.S. We meant to post this on St Patrick’s Day, but after all the drinks, it might not have come out right. Just kidding!

How is Adopt a Character doing after 2.5 months?

March 1st 2016

Back in January, roughly a month after the launch of Unicode’s Adopt a Character program, there were 8 Gold Sponsors, 1 Silver Sponsor, and 90 Bronze Sponsors. That means, in total, the Unicode Consortium raised $50k in roughly a month. Read up our summary here for details.

It’s now been about 2.5 months since Adopt a Character launched.

So how is the campaign doing after 2.5 months?

tl;dr: Not that much better than after a month.

We’ve tallied up the number of donations in each category based on Unicode’s listing here as it stands today, March 1st. This is what we got:

  • 8 Gold Sponsors X $5,000 each = $40,000 (No change from January)
  • 1 Silver Sponsor X $1,000 each = $1,000 (No change from January)
  • 107 Bronze Sponsors X $100 each = $10,700 (+$1,700 from January)
  • Total: $51,700

Disappointed Face as rendered on AndroidFrom December 16th to January 18th (roughly 1 month), the Unicode Consortium raised $50,000 from Adopt a Character. But in the last 1.5 months, from January 18th to March 1st (today), the Unicode Consortium has raised only $1,700.

What happened? Well right at launch, the initiative got some major tech press – Wired, Atlantic, PCWorld, etc. But since then, not much has been said about Adopt a Character. It’ll be interesting to see where this campaign goes, but as of now, donations are dwindling.

Unicode Flag Emojis

February 15th 2016

In honor of President’s Day (in the US), here’s a list of Unicode flag emojis!

Unicode Flags and the ISO

Unicode’s flag standard is based on ISO 3166-1. In other words, a country only gets a Unicode flag if it’s listed in ISO 3166-1. In case you’re curious: ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization, and it’s basically an NGO that sets standards for things ranging from food safety to environmental management to technology. According to the ISO website, they recently published a standard for drinking straws. In the technology space, they are one of several well known groups tasked with setting standards.

Unicode Flags for the 30 Most Populous Countries

ISO 3166-1 is a pretty big list, so we decided we’d pick the top 30. Below is a list of the Unicode flag emojis for the most populous countries in the world, sorted by population (according to the 2016 US Census Bureau).

Technical Note – “I don’t see the flags!”

Unfortunately, Windows currently does not support Unicode flags, so you’ll just see a two letter country abbreviation (or a box) instead of a flag if you’re on Windows. Try opening this blog post on your iPhone or Android, and as long as you’re running one of the newer versions of the software, it should work!

Country Flag Emoji
China 🇨🇳
India 🇮🇳
United States 🇺🇸
Indonesia 🇮🇩
Brazil 🇧🇷
Pakistan 🇵🇰
Nigeria 🇳🇬
Bangladesh 🇧🇩
Russia 🇷🇺
Japan 🇯🇵
Mexico 🇲🇽
Philippines 🇵🇭
Ethiopia 🇪🇹
Vietnam 🇻🇳
Egypt 🇪🇬
Iran 🇮🇷
Congo (Kinshasa) 🇨🇩
Germany 🇩🇪
Turkey 🇹🇷
Thailand 🇹🇭
France 🇫🇷
United Kingdom 🇬🇧
Italy 🇮🇹
Myanmar 🇲🇲
South Africa 🇿🇦
Tanzania 🇹🇿
South Korea 🇰🇷
Spain 🇪🇸
Colombia 🇨🇴
Kenya 🇰🇪

And how could we forget Canada? Canada is technically the 38th most populous country according to the US Census Bureau but here is their flag anyway: 🇨🇦

Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 14th 2016

We don’t know how to say it in Spanish, but we do know how to say it upside down, in bubbles, zalgo-fied, and with only hearts:

¡ʎɐp s,ǝuᴉʇuǝlɐʌ ʎddɐɥ

ⓗⓐⓟⓟⓨ ⓥⓐⓛⓔⓝⓣⓘⓝⓔ’ⓢ ⓓⓐⓨ!

❤ + ❤ = 💕 ❣

Express your love in the most memorable way. Check out our text.

Announcing HeartSymbol.love

February 8th 2016

Valentine’s Day is six days away! In celebration, we’ve launched HeartSymbol.love, the latest in the VeryTextual.com portfolio.

HeartSymbol.love

HeartSybmol.love presents a collection of 47 heart and love symbols that can be used on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, iChat, text messages, etc. All these symbols are Unicode text, so they can be used in nearly all places that text is accepted.

We’ve built HeartSymbol.love in HTML5 using responsive design, so the website will look great on your computer, iPad, iPhone, and Android.

As always, feel free to drop us a comment if you like (or don’t like) something!

❤❤

XOXO,
VeryTextual.com

Valentine’s Day Special – Coming Tomorrow

February 6th 2016

Two days ago, we posted a list of heart symbols. That list only had 9 symbols to express love. But we’ve found a lot more… 47 more to be exact, as of now. Tomorrow, we will launching a website dedicated to these “love symbols”!

Here are some examples of how you’ll be able to use these awesome love emojis:

  • “i miss you. i really just wanna 💏 you”
  • “jk: I don’t need a 💍. Just a big 💎.”

It’s our Valentine’s Day gift to you.

XOXO,
VeryTextual.com

Update 2/8/2016: It’s launched! Read more here.

I ♥ the heart – heart symbols

February 4th 2016

February 14th is Valentine’s Day. You could show your love with roses, chocolates, or a necklace from Tiffany. But why bother, when you can send heart emojis!

That’s right. As always, Unicode has got your back. Rest easy, and show your love by copying and pasting these adorable heart symbols:

the classic heart (U+2764)
💓 the beating heart (U+1F493)
💕 best hearts forever (bhf) (U+1F495)
💖 the sparkling heart (U+1F496)
💗 the growing heart (U+1F497)
💞 hearts go round and round (U+1F49E)
💟 the love patch (U+1F49F)
heart! (U+2763)
💌 the love letter (U+1F48C)

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day ❣

XOXO,
VeryTextual.com

Update 2/8/2016: We’ve launched a website dedicated to heart symbols. Read more here.

Playing Cards with Unicode

January 24th 2016

Unicode is more than just emojis. It’s also playing cards! (And nearly every single language in modern use) In fact, every card in the standard 52 card playing deck can be represented in Unicode.  How?  Well, here you go. You’re welcome:

A 🂡 🂱 🃁 🃑
2 🂢 🂲 🃂 🃒
3 🂣 🂳 🃃 🃓
4 🂤 🂴 🃄 🃔
5 🂥 🂵 🃅 🃕
6 🂦 🂶 🃆 🃖
7 🂧 🂷 🃇 🃗
8 🂨 🂸 🃈 🃘
9 🂩 🂹 🃉 🃙
10 🂪 🂺 🃊 🃚
J 🂫 🂻 🃋 🃛
Q 🂭 🂽 🃍 🃝
K 🂮 🂾 🃎 🃞

The Unicode playing card symbols above can be copied and pasted into Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Microsoft Word, e-mails, and pretty much anywhere else. If you’re copying these cards into a text editor like Word, you can change the size by increasing or decreasing the font, just like you would with normal text! We told you Unicode was oh so cool. PS: Remember to shuffle, and don’t forget your jokers:

🃏 🃟

How is Adopt a Character doing after a month?

January 18th 2016

tl;dr: Alright.

Earlier this month, we wrote about the Unicode Consortium’s Adopt an Emoji – or more properly Adopt a Character – initiative. You can read more Adopt a Character here.

We thought we’d follow up and see how well the campaign is doing.  The Unicode Consortium published its press release announcing the Adopt a Character program on December 16, 2015. That’s roughly a month ago.

Tallying up the donations listed on Unicode’s website (here), it looks like the Unicode Consortium earned $50k in the last month.  Here’s the breakdown:

  • 8 Gold Sponsors X $5,000 each = $40,000
  • 1 Silver Sponsor X $1,000 each = $1,000
  • 90 Bronze Sponsors X $100 each = $9,000
  • Total: $50,000

To be fair, $50,000 is not bad for a month. If this were a Kickstarter campaign, it would be considered a relatively successful one month.

Poo emoji as rendered by AppleBut this is Unicode! It’s used in millions of websites and applications. The Adopt a Character campaign was covered by Wired, the Atlantic, VentureBeat, PCWorld and numerous smaller publications.  BusinessWire picked up the press release, and it was republished by Reuters. Given the attention it got, and the importance of the Unicode Consortium, it’s somewhat surprising that they only managed to raise $50k in a month.

It seems like Adopt a Character will become a permanent initiative, so the Unicode Consortium does have time to raise more money. We’ll revisit this next month, and see how Unicode is doing.  In the meantime, Adopt a Character!

We got udtxt.us back!

January 10th 2016

We like to provide “short domains” for our websites to allow for easy access and sharing. These domains are faster to type and take up fewer characters which is important when using services like Twitter.

Before we had the flip.lol short domain for upsidedowntext.com, we had udtxt.us. We made a big mistake, and we let udtxt.us expire. One of our competitors who also has a text flipping service purchased the expired domain and re-directed visitors to their website. We realized our mistake, and placed a back order on the domain. Our competitor didn’t renew this year, so we are now once again the proud owners of udtxt.us! We will continue to promote the flip.lol short domain since it is far easier to remember, but udtxt.us works too! Both flip.lol and udtxt.us now re-direct to upsidedowntext.com.

Adopt an Emoji

January 9th 2016

Adopt a Unicode character

What’s Unicode? And how does it relate to Emojis?

Unicode is a character set standard that allows people to digitally communicate in a variety of international languages. Unicode supports Western alphabets of course, but also Chinese characters, Hebrew, and nearly every single language in modern use.  Additionally, the Unicode standard includes emojis.  Now, to be clear, Apple, Google, and other companies design the look of emojis on their devices, but Unicode allows these emojis to have a standard underlying character code so that sending an emoji from an IPhone to an Android works (of course it will only work if both devices support the Unicode standard and implement some sort of visual for that particular character).

How to Adopt an Emoji

The Unicode Consortium, which sets the Unicode standard, recently launched a new program to Adopt a Character! Technically this character need not be an emoji, but unsurprisingly emoji are the most popular. There are three levels at which you can adopt an Emoji  (or character) – Bronze, Silver, and Gold:

  • Bronze ($100): At the Bronze level, each character can have multiple sponsors. You get a shout out on Unicode’s website and a certificate. This costs a $100.
  • Silver ($1,000): At the Silver level, each character can have up to 5 sponsors. You get a shout out and thank-you gift which includes the name you supply and the character you adopted. This costs $1,000.
  • Gold ($5,000): At the Gold level, each character can only have 1 sponsor. As with the Silver level, you get a shout out and thank you gift. Unlike the Silver level though, the shout out you get on Unicode’s website can include both your name and a hyperlink to your website. This costs $5,000.

So what will the Unicode Consortium do with the money they raise? In short, help improve Unicode and its support.  Here’s a quote from a Wired.com article, Why Unicode Is Putting Its Emoji Up for Adoption, with more information:

“The funding we’re looking for goes into two buckets,” says Unicode president and co-founder Mark Davis, who also serves as Google’s Chief International Architect. Bucket one, he says, is encoding more historical scripts—like Egyptian hieroglyphs—so they can be digitally preserved. “The second bucket is providing better language support,” Davis explains. “There is certain core information that is needed for a computer to support a language, and that’s the data in the CLDR project.”

Links

So what are you waiting for? Adopt an emoji with the links below!

Form to Adopt a Character
List of Character Adopters

It’s 2016!

January 2nd 2016

Happy New Years! 🎆

Here are our highlights from 2015:

  • Launched ZalgoTextGenerator.com to ṁ̶̧̡͍̜̜̲̼͊̄̊͗͟͢ắ̶̧̼̬̹̟̩̣͖̓̓̈́̇̄̂́̈͟ͅk̷̛̫̯̳̫̪̄̒͆̋͋̃̕ḛ͍̟͎͚̼̪͈̗͐͆̏͗́̐̚͜͠ ÿ̵̢͙̬̝̮̿̏̌̓͐͛́͜͢o̲͖̜̲̹̔͑̌̇͟͝ú̧̥̥̬͚̪̙̒͋͊̿̓̿̏̏͢͞r̙̟̹̠̮̭̙̪̋͋̾̎̉͟͢͝ t̴̡̹̲͕̭̮̮̃̊̒͌͐̅ͅĕ̷͓̩͉̥̫̹͈̼̞͐̓͂͘x̡͕͙͔̘̲̮̃͆̇̐̕t̸͙̗̥̼̞̣͚̼̖̠̓̋̓͆̉͋̈̉̚͝ z̨͙͎̖͙̩̤͍̀̎͗̾͒͛͊̀̕͡a̖͙͔̞̲͚͛̉͗̌̂͐̒́͢͝ͅͅl̡͔̼̥̖̲͍̜̎͒̈́̆̒̓̽͆g̵̦̘̝̖͑̈͂̈́͊̇͟o̯̥̼͙͓͈̤̍̇̾̿̅̉̋͠͠
  • Launched CoolFancyTextGenerator.com to combine the uʍop ǝpᴉsdn and ⓑⓤⓑⓑⓛⓔ ⓑⓐⓛⓛ effects
  • Bought the flip.lol short domain for UpsideDownText.com
  • Launched the VeryTextual.com portfolio site and accompanying blog
  • Reached 17,000 likes on our “I Like Upside Down Text” Facebook page
  • Launched txt.wtf to allow quick access to our most popular websites

It’s been a good year for us. Cheers to the next one!

Facebook is not the internet

December 26th 2015

Facebook ZeroIn 2010, Zuckerberg launched the “Facebook Zero” initiative to provide Facebook access to consumers in countries with low internet penetration. As part of this initiative, Facebook paid mobile carriers in countries such as Nigeria and Indonesia to offer free Facebook access (“zero” rate access) outside of traditional data plans. This isn’t the full featured Facebook app as most Western consumers know it, but a simplified lower bandwidth version. Earlier this year, Quartz published an article Millions of Facebook users have no idea they’re using the internet describing an interesting phenomena in countries where Facebook Zero is offered. The Quartz article describes that researchers were conducting a focus group in Indonesia and asking questions about Facebook and internet usage – Indonesians surveyed by Galpaya told her that they didn’t use the internet. But in focus groups, they would talk enthusiastically about how much time they spent on Facebook. Quartz later commissioned a poll where roughly 10% of participants said they used Facebook but not the internet (the Quartz poll was only limited to two countries but it gives you a sense of how widespread this belief is).

This misconception is notable in light of all the discussions surrounding net neutrality. The Facebook Zero initiative would technically run afoul of strict net neutrality – Chile in fact banned it for this reason. But Facebook is providing some sort of online communication and internet to consumers who otherwise would not have it, and having some access could be a stepping stone to having more. Yet, likely as a side effect of Facebook Zero, some consumers don’t realize that accessing Facebook uses the internet. It will be interesting to see where this goes in the next few years.

Introducing txt.wtf

December 19th 2015

Txt.wtf allows you to quickly access text generation websitesWe’ve just launched txt.wtf, a “quick access” website for the VeryTextual.com portfolio. With txt.wtf, you can type just seven characters into your browser to access the most popular VeryTextual websites. Although we already have short urls for our text generation websites (such as flip.lol for upsidedowntext.com and scary.ooo for zalgotextgenerator.com), with txt.lol you only have to remember a single URL!

Holiday Emojis

December 13th 2015

As the winter holidays are approaching, we thought it would be useful to list our favorite holiday emojis! So grab a glass of eggnog and start texting.

Technical Details: Unicode emojis are treated as text so you can use them in a Facebook status, Twitter message, plain-text e-mail, text message, etc. Older browsers or devices might have trouble displaying some of the emojis below, but they should work in most situations. We’ve included an * next to emojis that were recently added to the Unicode standard, and are therefore more likely to lack support.

When you’re stuck in line at the mall:

🎁 Gift/Present (U+1F381)
🛍* Shopping Bags (U+1F6CD)

When you’re feeling jolly (Christmas and Hanukkah):

🎅 Santa Claus Face (U+1F385)
🎄 Christmas Tree (U+1F384)
🕎* Menorah (U+1F54E)

When it’s snowing:

❄️ Snowflake (U+2744)
Snowman (U+2603)
⛄️ Another Snowman (U+26C4)
Ice Skates (U+26F8)

Cheers! (New Years):

🎆 Fireworks (U+1F386)
🎇 More Fireworks (U+1F387)
🎊 Confetti (U+1F38A)
🎉 Party (U+1F389)

*These emojis were recently added to the Unicode specification and are more likely to lack support on older devices.

Emojis are Unicode?

December 4th 2015

In May of this year, the New Yorker published How Emoji Got to the White House. Two months ago, The New York Times wrote a follow up, How Emojis Find Their Way to Phones.

Brief History of Emojis

In summary, emojis were “invented” in Japan and evolved from visual depictions popular in manga. Japanese cellular carrier began incorporating them into their texting platforms  in the late 1990s and each carrier competed to make better, more complex emojis! These emojis were propriety, so an emoji sent from NTTDoCoMo (largest Japanese cellular carrier) could not necessarily be read by your friend using Softbank. When Google launched Gmail in Japan, they realized they had to support emojis, but in order to support it in e-mail, they had to promote a standard. Enter the Unicode Consortium. Google, along with a handful of other American tech companies, had emojis added to Unicode, a character set standard that incorporates practically every language in the world.

But Emojis are Unicode??

As the New York Times pointed out:

Some of these modern hieroglyphics have prompted debate. Sets of default emojis that included only white skin tones prompted Unicode to release more diverse characters last year. And one image in the latest group has prompted protest: The British gun control group Infer Trust has spoken out against a proposal for a rifle emoji.

And that gets to the crux of it. A text message conversation using emojis The purpose of Unicode is to provide an international character set that incorporates the languages of all regions. The Unicode character set includes Roman letters, French accents, Chinese characters, etc. This helps facilitate cross border communication –  I can copy Korean text and send it to an English speaker without a problem as long as the text is encoded in a Unicode standard and the English speaker receives it in an application which supports that  Unicode standard (I’m saying “Unicode standard” here because technically Unicode defines a character set, and there are separate encoding standards such as UTF-8 and UTF-16 that specify how each character in this set gets turned into bits – 0s and 1s).

While emojis are a medium of communication, it’s a bit arbitrary exactly what emojis should be included in a standard, and what shouldn’t.  This becomes especially apparent when the set of standard emojis includes not only facial expressions but animals, electronics, and food. Why is a burger (🍔) included in the Unicode standard and not a steak? There’s a symbol in the standard for a fax machine (📠) … why not also include a stylus?  In fact, any image could essentially be a means of communication. Why are certain pictorial representations treated as text (as part of the Unicode standard) while others are just ordinary images?

Emojis are here to stay, and having a standard mechanism to exchange them is certainly necessary. From a practical standpoint, incorporating emojis into Unicode is the most straightforward solution since many devices already have partial Unicode support. It just seems strange to add an arbitrary set of objects and expressions to an international language standard.

Responsive Design

November 9th 2015

Our first website UpsideDownText.com was launched before responsive design had really taken off. Back in 2009, CSS3 was still a draft. The iPhone had been released, and mobile websites were gaining traction, but a single webpage that actually contoured to the width and height of the browser was still, well, cutting edge.  For UpsideDownText,com, we used a simple desktop-optimized layout with no real thought for smaller screen sizes. The rest of our website portfolio used this layout as a base. As it stands today, all of our websites look terrible on a phone (or even tablet). We’re sorry!

It’s 2015 now, and a mobile friendly UpsideDownText.com is far overdue (as is a mobile friendly Bubble Ball Text, Zalgo Text Generator, etc).  The most straightforward approach would be to develop a website for a phone (and tablet) and then re-direct the visitor based on the type of device being used (phone, tablet, PC).  This approach of course has its shortcomings. As the dimensions of phones approach tablets (Galaxy Note) and dimensions of tablets approach laptops (iPad Pro), the type of device matters less and less. It’s no longer sufficient to build websites for a discrete set of screen sizes.

Enter responsive design. VeryTextual.com was built as a sort of experiment in using responsive CSS techniques. We tried to make it as pure-responsive as possible avoiding the use of even CSS media queries (which are used to apply different styles based on a property like screen width). The dimensions of a block of text and of the spacing between such blocks on VeryTextual.com is variable, determined in part by browser width and height along with an absolute minimum.  As the browser window grows (phone to tablet to desktop), elements on the page grow and spread apart to make use of the increased white space. As the browser window shrinks, elements too shrink and squish together to prevent unnecessary horizontal scrolling. VeryTextual.com looks great and is fully functional no matter what device you are using and no matter how big or small that device is (within reason of course!).  Over the next few weeks, we will be transitioning our whole portfolio of websites to responsive designs modeled after our experiment on VeryTextual.com. We hope you like it!