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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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Former Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime announces new game company




Two years after stepping down as CEO at Blizzard, the game company he co-founded in 1991, Mike Morhaime is back with his next venture. It’s called Dreamhaven, and it’s a combination of a publisher and developer, with “a common goal to empower creators, help bring their ideas to life, and create original gaming experiences that foster meaningful connections between players.”

As part of the announcement, Dreamhaven also revealed its first two internal studios: Moonshot Games and Secret Door. Moonshot is headed by a trio of Blizzard veterans, including former Hearthstone lead Jason Chayes, StarCraft II director Dustin Browder, and Hearthstone creative director Ben Thompson. “Though it’s very early days, when we think about Moonshot, we imagine a studio that celebrates curiosity and courage,” Chayes said in a statement. “We aspire to be bold in our approach, and we think the best way to do that is to create a culture centered around trust.”

Secret Door, meanwhile, is similarly led by a team of former Blizzard developers, including Chris Sigaty (executive producer on Hearthstone), Alan Dabiri (technical director on Warcraft III and StarCraft II), and Eric Dodds (designer on World of Warcraft and Starcraft). No projects have been announced for either studio.

Morhaime stepped down as CEO of Blizzard in 2018, though he stayed on in a consultancy role until last year. In an interview with The Washington Post, he said that one of the goals of the new company was to build an environment focused on creators — something that was likely a challenge under Activision, which became Blizzard’s parent company in 2008.

“We’ve learned a ton about what goes into creating an environment that allows creators to do their best work, and we were very successful doing that for many years at Blizzard,” Morhaime told the Post. “We reached a crossroads where we reassessed what we want to do with the rest of our lives.”


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Apple Loop: Shock iPhone 12 Details, Massive iOS 14 Problems, Macbook Pro Delay




Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes surprising iPhone 12 benchmarks, big problems with iOS 14, two new iPads, Apple ignores MacOS, the “good/better/best” of the Apple Watch, the controversy around Apple One, and the Macs’ never changing system System Preferences.

Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).

Just How Fast Is Your Next iPhone?

We might not have seen the iPhone 12 family as part of Apple’s virtual September launch event this week, but we have seen the benchmarks pop up on the AnTuTu website. That gives us a raw comparison of the numbers from last year’s iPhone to this year’s. Philip Michaels reports some pretty shocking numbers:

“Leaked benchmarks from Antutu, purportedly showing off an iPhone 12 Pro Max’s performance, may help fill in some of the blanks. MySmartPrice spotted the leaked numbers, which claim to show off a device with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage running iOS 14.1.

“According to the leaks, the iPhone 12 Pro Max tallied a score of 572,333 on Antutu’s test, which is a 9% gain over the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s 524,436 result on the same test. MySmartPrice says the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s reported tally would be the highest score ever posted by an iPhone, which you’d hope given that it’s a new model.

More at Tom’s Guide.

The Big Problem With iOS 14

Apple may not have announced a release date for the iPhone, but it did announce the release date of iOS 14. And that has caused problems. Normally Apple will provide a week’s worth of ‘heads up’ time to Developers so they can ensure their apps are ready for the jump up to the next major version of iOS. Not this year… developers had less than a days notice, and they are not happy. Matt Binder reports:

““Gone are the hopes of being on the store by the time users install the new iOS 14 and are looking for new apps. Gone is the chance to get some last-minute fixes into your existing apps to make sure they don’t stop working outright by the time users get to upgrade their OS,” explained Steve [Troughton-Smith from High Caffeine Content.”

““There are some developers who have spent all summer working on something new, using the latest technologies, hoping to be there on day one and participate in the excitement (and press coverage) of the new iOS,” he continued. “For many of them, they’ll be incredibly upset to have it end like this instead of a triumphant launch, and it can dramatically decrease the amount of coverage or sales they receive.””

More at Mashable.

Take Two Tablets And Call Your iPhone In The Morning

Taking the flagship spot away from the ‘missing presumed having a good time’ iPhone 12 was Apple’s new iPad Air. Beating the smartphone as the first device with Apple’s new A14 ARM-based processor. Samuel Axon and Jim Salter report for Ars Technica:

“The iPad Air gets the new A14 Bionic CPU, built on 5nm process technology. It’s a six-core CPU with two high-performance cores and four lower-power, more efficient cores for simpler background tasks. The A14 Bionic offers a 30 percent GPU performance boost compared to previous generations, and Apple says it puts up double the graphics performance of typical laptops.”

As well as the increased power, 2020’s iPad Air has a new design; USB-C has been added, the bezels have been trimmed away, the home button has been removed, and TouchID has been integrated into the power button. It;s not the only new iPad, as the entry-level iPad moves up rom the A10 to the A12 Bionic processor. Benjamin Mayo reports:

“The jump from A10 to A12 means Apple’s cheapest iPad will feature the Neural Engine for the first time. Apple says the A12 chip offers more than twice the performance of the top selling Windows laptop, 6x faster than the top-selling Android tablet and 6x faster than the best-selling Chromebook.

“The 8th-generation iPad keeps the same price as the 7th-gen: that’s $329 for general sale and $299 for education.”

More at 9to5Mac.

Will Mac Owners Be Satisfied With Safari After macOS Delay?

If you were waiting for MmcOS Big Sur to drop for your Mac or MacBook, then you are out of luck. Apple’s event saw updates to iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and watchOS… but macOS has been delayed. The ‘Big Sur’ release is still in the future, but a small crumb (perhaps from a cookie) has been handed to Mac fans in the form of Safari 14, presumably to offer cross-OS support with other devices. Juli Clover reports:

“Safari 14 brings improved performance, customizable start pages, a Privacy Report to see which cross-site trackers are being blocked, and a new tab bar design that provides tab previews so you can see what you have open at a glance. Today’s update also removes Adobe Flash.”

More at MacRumors.

The Apple Watch Strikes Three 

Two new Apple Watch models were launched, and as the Apple Watch Series 3 remains, there is now a low-, a mid-, and a high-level smartwatch in the classic triplet that Apple was once famous for. Todd Haselton looks over the Series 6 Apple Watch for CNBC, including the headline ‘wellness’ features:

“The Series 6 also has Apple’s most advanced sensors. You can run the ECG app for an electrocardiogram, for example, a feature that’s not on the Apple Watch SE or Series 3. It’s also the only model with the new blood-oxygen app. I tried that and it told me my blood oxygen was 96%, which seems good.

“…Apple is careful to explain that this isn’t a medical device. You can use it if you’re curious about your blood oxygen when you’re hiking at high altitudes, but Apple isn’t making any promises about detecting low oxygen should you fall ill with coronavirus.”

Meanwhile, Apple has brought the ‘SE’ brand to the Apple Watch, again with the promise of a cheaper ‘mid-range’ slice of hardware that still delivers the core Apple experience. Chris Velazco has spent some time with the wearable to try and work out where it fits into the portfolio:

“For one, the SE uses the same S5 system-in-package (or SIP) that we got in last year’s Series 5, which in turn contains the same dual-core processor as the Series 4. Meanwhile, Apple has confirmed that the SE has the same compass and always-on altimeter as the Series 6, along with a very similar screen.

“From what I can tell, it’s the same bigger display we got in the Series 5, just without the always-on functionality enabled. And while the Series 4 was the first Apple Watch to come with heart-sensing ECG support, you simply don’t get that here. Ditto for the Series 6’s new blood oxygen measurement features.”

More at Engadget.

Bouquets and Brickbats For Apple One 

Also announced alongside Apple’s hardware, and perhaps an indication of where Apple wishes to focus on the future, were new options for the various subscription services offered by Cupertino. Apple One takes the popular options and bundles them together while offering a discount. Brian Heater reports:

“It’s not quite mix and match yet, but there are three pricing tiers. Individual offers Apple Music, TV+, Arcade and iCloud for $15 a month. The Family version will get you those four services for $20 a month. For the hardcore, there’s the $30 a month Premier tier, which bundles iCloud, Music, TV+, Arcade, News+ and [the new service] Fitness+.“

“For those who have been putting off a given Apple subscription, such a bundle could certainly sweeten the pot — and make it even harder for users to escape the pull of the Apple software ecosystem.”

More at TechCrunch. Given Apple’s market position, using one service to pptentiallybolster another through a bundle has drawn the eye of the competition. Spotify – which has already filed an anti-trust complaint with the European Commission against Apple – drew attention to the issue shortly ager the end of the event.

“Once again, Apple is using its dominant position and unfair practices to disadvantage competitors and deprive consumers by favoring its own services. We call on competition authorities to act urgently to restrict Apple’s anti-competitive behavior, which if left unchecked, will cause irreparable harm to the developer community and threaten our collective freedoms to listen, learn, create, and connect.”

More on the Spotify statement at Apple Insider.

And Finally…

The look of the MacOS user interface has evolved since OSX was announced in 2000. One area has stayed relatively contestant, but the small changes highlight the thinking behind the OS over the years.

“The interface started glassy and skeuomorphic, mimicking the materials used on Macs. Over the decades, it went through significant revisions. One thing that seems to have remained relatively unchanged over the years is the System Preferences screen.

“But, at a closer glance, we’ll see that this mundane part of the operating system has changed quite a bit and hides some fun easter eggs and surprises.”

Arun Venkatesan has taken a closer look on his blog.

Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.


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Apple reportedly acquires VR startup ‘Spaces’




Apple has now acquired another startup, Spaces, which has a team specialized in virtual reality technologies (VR). The acquisition was announced today by a Protocol report citing its own sources.

Spaces was created in 2016 by DreamWorks Animation veterans, and the startup has been developing VR products since then, including a Zoom add-on that allowed users to hold virtual reality video conferencing using animated avatars.

The company discontinued all its services last week without further details. The official Spaces website just mentions that the startup is now “heading in a new direction.”

Thank you to our users and partners who participated in our awesome VR video conferencing product and the many people who enjoyed our VR location-based entertainment attractions found at theme parks, theaters, and more.

According to the Protocol report, both Apple and Spaces did not immediately respond to a request for a comment on the acquisition. The price paid by Apple on the Spaces startup is also unknown.

While it’s not certain that the team behind Spaces will join any VR related project at Apple, rumors suggest that Apple is working on AR and VR headsets for 2021 and 2022. Bloomberg says the headset will reportedly feature high-resolution displays and a “cinematic speaker system,” which should make it difficult for the user to notice the differences between real life and the virtual reality experiences the headset will provide.

As Apple continues to invest in its ARKit and new features such as the LiDAR scanner in the new 2020 iPad Pro, it’s plausible to expect that all of these technologies will be merged into a new product to offer advanced augmented and virtual reality capabilities.


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