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25 years of LOL – the good and bad bits




LOL is celebrating a big birthday this year

LOL is 25 years old. Since its first recorded use in May 1989, LOL has completely transformed how we live. We text it to each other. We write it on pictures of animals. We say it out loud if we want people to think that we’re creepy sociopaths.

A world without LOL is a world without laughter, or at least a world without people claiming to laugh when they’re really just sitting there silently typing things onto Facebook with a Jaffa Cake hanging out of their mouth. The proper way to commemorate an occasion as momentous as this is with a prestigious awards ceremony. Please don’t expect another one of these on the 25th anniversary of “nom”. That would be unconscionable.

Oldest contemporary LOL

This is generally recognised to have taken place on page 11 of an International FidoNet Association Newsletter dated 8 May 1989, sandwiched between a notice about new software releases – including “Realistic Cake Mixing Simulation” and “Fun Nuclear War Game” – and a brief article about UFOs. LOL, mentioned as a suggested acronym for “laughing out loud”, has arguably fared better than H, which was the article’s recommended shortening of “HUH???”. The piece ends with this unwitting warning from history: “I hope this makes for more colourful communicating. Just remember the quote … ‘Anything that can be said in a few words isn’t worth saying.'”

Most recent LOL

At the time of writing, the most recent use of the term LOL occurred on Twitter 16 seconds ago, when a user by the name of @ThembekaAndiswa expressed her amusement at a statistic claiming that half of all giraffes are bisexual.

Most commonly misused LOL

Cameron Cameron’s mistake will go down in LOL history. Photograph: Nick Ansell/AFP/Getty ImagesMany have made the mistake of thinking that LOL actually stands for “lots of love”. One of the most famous examples of this misunderstanding came to prominence three years ago, thanks to a screengrab of this text message sent by a mother to her son: “Your great aunt just passed away. LOL”. However, ever since Rebekah Brooks’ courtroom revelation about David Cameron concluding his texts with LOL – in the belief that he was wishing her lots of love – he will now forever be the gold standard of all LOL‑based cockups.

Most annoying LOL variation

This is a closely fought category. Since its inception, LOL has branched off into an array of ever more niche fronds, each as objectionable as the last. There’s LOOOOOOOL, which is meant to denote sustained laughter but actually means “laugh out out out out out out out loud”. This can also be written as LOLOLOLOL, which is clearly just “laugh out loud out loud out loud out loud”. Then there are ROFL (rolling on floor laughing) and LMAO (laughing my arse off), which are the regrettably needy try-hard cousins of LOL. However, by a nose, the award for most annoying LOL variation goes to the term LOLcano. If you ever see someone use the term LOLcano, even as a joke, you must cut them out of your life instantly. It simply isn’t worth the trouble of knowing them.

Cutest regional LOL variation

Many countries have their own variation of LOL. Amused online Koreans use “ㅋㅋㅋ”, a repetition of their alphabet’s “K” sound. Some French people use MDR, which stands for “mort de rire (died of laughter)”. But the most adorable of all comes from Thailand, which uses “555” as a local LOL-substitute. The Thai number five is pronounced “ha”. Ha ha ha. See?

Least funny official example of LOL usage

LOL has been in the Oxford Dictionaries since 2011. For any curious dictionary owners who want to know how to correctly deploy a LOL, it offers the following example: “I love how you said ‘coffee is not my cup of tea’. LOL!”. One: “coffee is not my cup of tea” is barely even worth a “ha”, let alone a full LOL. Two: you don’t put an exclamation mark after a LOL unless you want to sound like a lonely drifter desperate for friends at a party. Three: Anyone who has ever had this exchange is clearly in a toxic relationship and needs to get out as soon as they can.

Worst thing anyone can do with a LOL

LOL is meant to be written down. Under no circumstances is it ever supposed to be spoken aloud. Especially not as a response to hearing something funny. And particularly if you aren’t actually laughing out loud as you say it. This has always been the case. In 2010, a worried poster by the name of disorder2k8 revealed the following on a David Icke messageboard: “I often say “LOL” to myself if I find something amusing.” He went on to point out: “It’s a very bad habit but I think this is going to be the future,” before glumly reaching the obvious conclusion that “technology is frying my brain”. Let disorder2k8 be your guide. Don’t repeat his mistakes.

Best song with the word LOL in the title

Although it’s now an immovable piece of our culture, LOL hasn’t infiltrated the pop charts as well as it could. Therefore, the best song currently to be called LOL is by a band called Rockstah. It isn’t very good at all – it can best be described as vaguely miffed dubstep – but is saved by the fact that it’s in German, so its horrors are largely veiled to the British ear. And, as the next award proves, it could have been a lot worse.

Worst song with the word LOL in the title

In 2009, rapper Trey Songz released a song called LOL :-). It would have been bad enough for him to just call it LOL but, no, he had to add 🙂 to the end of it. 🙂 is barely even an emoticon. It looks like someone’s punched their keyboard out of frustration, possibly after reading Trey Songz’s discography. Apparently the title is pronounced “LOL Smiley Face”, but this is hard to verify because anyone who has ever said this out loud has been forced by society to become a shivering recluse in a cave somewhere.

Best film called LOL

In 2006, mumblecore auteur Joe Swanberg directed LOL, a low‑budget film about the impact of technology on social relations. It is notable for starring Greta Gerwig in her first ever role. Even if you haven’t seen it, it’s still the best film ever made called LOL because the only other English-language film to be called LOL is …

Worst film called LOL

Miley Cyrus plays, like, a teenager who breaks up with her boyfriend. But, like, her new boyfriend totally bangs her enemy in a toilet, and her mom’s Demi Moore and she wants to go to Paris but Demi Moore’s like “no way” and she’s all like “yuh-HUH” and then they cry and cuddle and time folds in on itself and you lose all sensation in your limbs and then it ends. In short: not LOL.

Biggest LOL star

If it wasn’t for LOL, we wouldn’t be blessed with LOLCats – the feline photographs that come accompanied by heavily accented and phonetically spelled captions. “Littl dus she no, iz jus pooped” reads one such caption on a picture of a woman holding a cat. Almost 12,000 people have seen this picture and then clicked the “like” button underneath it. We’re all doomed. All of us.

Most-watched YouTube LOL video

A video entitled “Lol wtf japanese butt gun??” is currently the most-viewed non-League of Legends LOL video on YouTube. Over 13 million people have watched it since it was uploaded in the summer of 2010. In the video, a Japanese schoolgirl pulls up her skirt, pushes an enormous machine gun barrel out of her backside and then fires it at an astonished-looking older man. The whole thing lasts for 11 seconds, after which viewers are somehow expected to just get on with their lives again.

Most confusing Yahoo Answer with LOL in the question

Yahoo Answers is potentially the maddest corner of the entire internet. It’s also where you can find some of the most avant garde uses of the term LOL ever written. The best is arguably this health question, asked by an anxious – if uncontrollably giggling – user six years ago. It reads: “Whats wronge with my mouth lol? every thing i eat tastes like bananas even things i drink to lol so i wanna know if u know why this is happening lol. Update: the alst time i ate a banana was like 2 months ago lol”. The answer to this query, at least according to one expert, is “babe because your mouth is smooth as a banana”. I don’t know what this means either.

Most excruciating use of LOL by anyone anywhere ever

For this most ferocious of anti-LOLs, we must return to David Cameron’s misunderstanding with Rebekah Brooks. Shortly after she revealed his error, Cameron mentioned the new French president in passing during PMQs. Immediately, Ed Miliband was at his throat: “I’m sure, Mr Speaker, that a text message and LOL will go down very well.” Cameron laughed, helpless against Miliband’s rapier wit. Miliband looked absurdly pleased with himself, even though he pronounced it “elle-oh-elle”. Meanwhile, Nick Clegg simply stared off into the middle distance with a haunted look upon his face. This was to be the last time he’d correctly gauge the mood of the nation. LOL!

PLUS! The top 10 lolz that made the internet what it is today …

Star Wars Boy

The first two things that anyone watched on the internet were the Pamela Anderson sex tape and this footage of a boy clumsily pretending that a broomstick was a lightsaber. Still funny.

All your base are belong to us

The European translation of a Japanese Megadrive game contained this phrase. Took on a life of its own because, on the internet, nothing’s funnier than foreign people using English badly.

Evolution of Dance

A man stands on a stage and performs every single dance he can think of. It is precisely as awful as you think it is.


Someone sends you a link. You click it. It’s a YouTube video of Rick Astley performing Never Gonna Give You Up. Stops being funny when your dad does it to you.

The Batman Slap

A comic book still of Batman slapping Robin, accompanied by a topical caption. Robin: “We wish you a merry Chri…” SLAP. Batman: “It’s November”. And so on.

I’m on a Boat

Andy Samberg’s parody band Lonely Island team up with R&B star T-Pain to sing about being on a boat.

Keyboard cat

Imagine You’ve Been Framed if all the videos ended with real injury and were immediately followed by footage of a cat in a shirt playing a piano with its paws. That’s Keyboard Cat.


Hitler’s last days, subtitled to reflect current events. There were Downfall parodies about iPads, Michael Jackson and, inevitably, about the glut of Downfall parodies flooding the internet.

Condescending Wonka

Willy Wonka rests his head on his hands and passive-aggressively tells you off. “Ohh, you’re in love?” he says. “Tell me more about being 12 years old”. Willy Wonka is a dick.


A photo of a shiba inu dog, accompanied by text like ‘wow’ and ‘so advertising’ and ‘such unsure’. See the above entry about bad Englishbeing funny on the internet.


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Easyship’s platform plugin and integrations enable stores to print labels, automate international paperwork, and display real-time courier rates

Hong Kong-based Easyship raises US$4M Series A [press release]

Easyship, a shipping platform for active SMBs to simplify and automate logistics, announced today it has raised a US$4 million in Series A round of funding from a slew of investors, including Maximilian Bittner, ex-CEO & Founder of Lazada and Senior Advisor of Alibaba Group; and Richard Lepeu, ex-CEO of global luxury giant Richemont and board member of Yoox Net-A-Porter Group.

Existing investors Lamivoie Capital Partners and Richard Lepeu, as well as Rubicon Venture Capital, One Way Ventures, Kima Ventures and Picus Capital, have also co-invested.

The startup was founded in 2015 by Tommaso Tamburnotti and Augustin Ceyrac (both formerly worked at Lazada), and Paul Lugagne Delpon. Easyship’s cloud-based platform helps e-commerce merchants ship worldwide. Its platform plugin and integrations enable stores to print labels, automate international paperwork, display real-time courier rates, and offer their customers dynamic tax and duties at checkout.

The startup has offices in New York, Singapore, Netherlands, Australia, and Hong Kong.

Singapore’s GIC backs EV charging network ChargePoint’s US$240M funding [DealStreetAsia]

Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC has joined a group of investors backing the US$240 million Series H funding in ChargePoint, a California-headquartered electric vehicle charging network, according to an announcement.

ChargePoint claims to have more than 57,000 independently owned public and semi-public charging spots and thousands of customers.

Other investors in the round include American Electric Power, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Chevron Technology Ventures, Clearvision and Daimler Truck & Buses. Quantum Energy Partners was the lead investor.

Korea’s blockchain casino project MECA Casino raises investment from ICON [press release]

South Korea-based blockchain project ICON has made a strategic investment in MECA Casino, a blockchain casino project.

MECA Casino is a DApp (Decentralised Application) of ICON and it is a reverse ICO project by Crypto Meca. MECA Casino has been developing casino games for more than three years and is ready to launch blackjack and baccarat table games. MECA Casino plans to open ‘the largest decentralised casino platform’ including sports betting solution by Q4 of 2019.

‘Master System’ of MECA Casino enables users to become ‘master’ who is an operator of casinos to be profitable from casino operation. ‘Masters’ can upgrade their casinos to attract more players, gain higher profits, and trade casinos with other potential Masters. Players can exchange MECA Coin (MCA) with MECA Chip (MCC) to play games in MECA Casino or trade casinos.

Revolut is ready to launch in Singapore and Japan [TechCrunch]

Fintech startup Revolut has been teasing Asian market expansions for more than a year, but it sounds like it might finally happen. The company has secured licenses to operate in Singapore and Japan. It now expects to launch its service in Q1 2019.

In Singapore, the company was granted a Remittance License by the Monetary Authority and a Stored Value Facility approval — these two things combined let Revolut users hold money as well as send and spend money. In Japan, the company has been authorised to operate by Japan’s Finance Service Agency. __ yahoo news

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Microsoft Corp has won a US$480mil (RM2.01bil) contract to supply prototypes for augmented reality systems to the Army for use on combat missions and in training, the Army said.

The contract, which could eventually lead to the military purchasing over 100,000 headsets, is intended to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy”, according to a government description of the programme.

“Augmented reality technology will provide troops with more and better information to make decisions. This new work extends our longstanding, trusted relationship with the Department of Defence to this new area,” a Microsoft spokesman said in an emailed statement.

The US Army and the Israeli military have already used Microsoft’s HoloLens devices in training, but plans for live combat would be a significant step forward.

HoloLens is one of the leading consumer-grade headsets, but a large consumer market doesn’t yet exist; a video made for the European Patent Office this spring said it had sold about 50,000 devices. That’s about half the number the Army expects to buy through its augmented reality programme, which is called the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS.

With the contract, the Army immediately becomes one of Microsoft’s most important HoloLens consumers. It expects devices to vary from their consumer-grade counterparts in a handful of key respects. In a document shared with companies bidding on the contract, the Army said it wanted to incorporate night vision and thermal sensing, measure vital signs like breathing and “readiness”, monitor for concussions and offer hearing protection. It said the winning bidder would be expected to deliver 2,500 headsets within two years, and exhibit the capacity for full-scale production.

The contract went though a bidding process designed to encourage the Army to do business with companies who aren’t traditional defence contractors. Magic Leap, which makes the main competitor to HoloLens for the consumer market, also pursued the contract. In early August, the Army held meetings with 25 companies interested in participating in some way, including Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp, Lockheed Martin Corp, and Raytheon Co. The technology industry’s cooperation with the US military and law enforcement has become increasingly tense over the last year, with employees at companies like Alphabet Inc’s Google and Inc pushing back against government contracts.

Earlier this year, hundreds of Microsoft workers signed a petition criticising a contract with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement that Microsoft had originally said included some of its AI software. In October, a blog post purportedly written by Microsoft employees urged the company not to bid on a multi-billion dollar US military cloud contract.

“Many Microsoft employees don’t believe that what we build should be used for waging war,” they wrote.

Later that month, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, Brad Smith, said the company would continue to sell software to the US military. Smith wrote that employees with ethical qualms with projects would be allowed to move to other work within the company.

“Artificial intelligence, augmented reality and other technologies are raising new and profoundly important issues, including the ability of weapons to act autonomously. As we have discussed these issues with governments, we’ve appreciated that no military in the world wants to wake up to discover that machines have started a war,” he wrote.

But we can’t expect these new developments to be addressed wisely if the people in the tech sector who know the most about technology withdraw from the conversation.” – Bloomberg


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Truata, the Dublin based data anonymisation and analytics company, has today been awarded the 2018 HPE-IAPP Privacy Innovation Award at the IAPP Europe Data Protection Conference in Brussels.

Truata was founded in early 2018 by Mastercard and IBM to deliver next-generation data protection and analytics to the marketplace. In awarding Truata with this honour, the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) has recognised the service that Truata offers to companies who want to continue to leverage their data to innovate and grow while respecting and safeguarding the privacy of their customers.

The Truata Anonymisation Solution is designed to deliver actionable insights to its customers who operate in multiple industries including financial services, telecommunications, hospitality, retail and travel. Truata independently anonymises a customer’s data, giving that customer the freedom to carry out analysis while protecting people’s personal data. Running on the IBM Cloud, the Truata solution is specifically designed to fully meet the high regulatory thresholds for anonymisation as the original source data and the anonymised data will not at any time co-exist in one organisation. This ensures that analytics can be conducted across a customer’s entire data set while only analysing the fully-anonymised versions of that data.

Based on the principle of privacy by design, and using the latest data privacy technologies developed by IBM Research, the Truata Anonymisation Solution benefits from innovative technological, structural, legal and organisational safeguards. It enables companies to both maximise their data analytics utility and minimise their risk of non-compliance with privacy regulations.

On receiving the award, Aoife Sexton, Truata Chief Privacy Officer said, “The changing regulatory environment is bringing about a real challenge for companies to understand how they can use data to foster innovation but do so in a legally compliant and ethical manner. We have developed a solution that addresses this challenge by allowing companies to continue to use their data for analytics – but in a responsible way that is compliant with the GDPR, respecting both the letter and the spirit of the regulation. We are grateful to the IAPP for recognising this new innovative solution.”

Felix Marx, CEO of Truata, added, “Post GDPR, companies still need to generate value and insights from their data through analytics if they want to innovate and provide their customers the services and products they want. The optimal way to do this, while respecting your customers’ privacy rights, is to have your data anonymised by an independent third party as part of an end-to-end service including world class analytics. Truata is the first to market with this solution.”

“In today’s global digital economy, organisations will play a critical role in furthering innovation and convenience, while handling data responsibly and ethically,” said JoAnn Stonier, chief data officer for Mastercard and Truata board member. “At Mastercard, we saw the GDPR as an opportunity to enhance our data practices and—with Truata —help other businesses do the same. This award from IAPP is a terrific honour and validation of the importance of finding a path that enables both data innovation and stringent privacy protections.”

Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and issued by the IAPP, the world’s largest information privacy community and resource with more than 32,000 members in over 100 countries, the much coveted Innovation Award recognises unique programmes and services in global privacy and data protection across both private and public sectors.

“The 2018 HPE-IAPP Privacy Innovation Award is presented to Truata, an exemplar safeguarding tool built on the principle of privacy by design. This award spotlights unique programs and services in global privacy and data protection; we are honouring Truata for practising fine innovation,” said IAPP President and CEO J. Trevor Hughes.

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