Email messages can be in two different forms:
- inline text
Inline text is the normal text that you write in an email. An attachment is a file from your computer (for example a Word document or .gif image) that you "attach" or add to your email. When someone receives an email with inline (normal) text, they can read it immediately. When they receive an attachment, they have to "open" the attachment with the right program (for example Word or PhotoShop). There are several problems with attachments, including:
- Recipients may not have the right program to open the attachment
- Attachments can contain viruses (so some people don't like to open attachments)
- Really big attachments can take a long time to download, especially on mobile phones
Many people do not like to receive attachments. Usually, it is better to send inline text. Only send an attachment when it is not possible to send the information as inline text and you are sure the receiver agrees.
Tip 3. Don't YELL!
Do not write everything in CAPITAL LETTERS. In English, it is not polite to use a lot of capital letters. In fact, text written in capital letters is difficult to read. You never see a book written only in capital letters. Using all capital letters is called "yelling", which is the same as shouting. Why is it difficult to read capital letters? Look at this word:
- ENGLISH (capital letters)
- English (initial capital + small letters)
In No.1 the word has no "shape"...it is a simple rectangle. In No.2 the word has a shape...it goes up and down. When we read, especially when we read fast, we read the shape of words. We do not read each individual letter. The shape of "ENGLISH" is exactly the same as the shape of "SPANISH". But the shape of "English" is not the same as the shape of "Spanish". For subjects, it's sometimes ok to use capitals. But if you must make some words in the text more important, don't do it with capitals. Use asterisks, like *this*, or use bold.
Tip 4. Be Careful With Abbreviations
Examples of abbreviations are "btw" (by the way) and "damhik" (don't ask me how I know). Abbreviations are a good way to save work on typing if both correspondents understand the abbreviations. But if the recipient does not understand your abbreviation, you are not communicating successfully.
Tip 5. Sign Your Email
It's a good idea, and more polite, to put your name at the end of your emails. You can even add other information like address, telephone and fax, especially for business. You can create a "signature block" that you add to the end of all messages. Many email services let you create an "auto-signature" that appears at the end of every email you send.
- character: a letter or symbol, like a, B, 1, 2, &, * etc
- recipient: the person who receives your email
- shape: the external form of something
- typeface: a particular design of type
- virus: a bug or coding designed to damage a computer
E-ENGLISH IYKWIM ;-)
KWIM? I thought not.
For e-English read "electronic English" and for IYKWIM read "if you know what I mean".
And for KWIM? Yes, that's right. You'll have to FIOFY.
The internet has created a whole new way of speaking when we write email, post messages or chat online.
It saves time and typing effort, but it's no joke if you don't know the "secret". So just to help you if you're not already a netspeak expert, here are a few of the basic rules and codes people use on the internet.
Remember, these are for use on the internet with friends. We do not usually use them in formal letters or faxes.
If we want to emphasise a word (make it more important), we often use asterisks (*), like this:
"I *love* EnglishCLUB.net."
Sometimes people use capitals to add emphasis but it is not a good idea. MOST PEOPLE DO NOT LIKE A LOT OF CAPITALS. THEY LOOK RUDE AND CAN BE DIFFICULT TO READ.
If we want to express our feelings and emotions, we can use "smileys". A smiley is a combination of symbols that looks like a face sideways. The original, basic smiley (eyes, nose and smiling mouth) is very popular and shows that we are happy:
We can also do this with eyes and mouth only:
Of course, if we are unhappy, we can change the mouth: :-(
There are many possibilities. Here are a few more:
- ;-) wink
- :*) kiss
- :~) tears
To save time when typing (and maybe to save money if you are online), people often abbreviate commonly-used phrases. There are hundreds of possibilities and you certainly do not need all of them!
Some of these codes are just the first letter of each word, for example:
imo = in my opinion
Some of these codes use the sound of the letter to represent the sound of a word. For example, the letter "c" sounds like the word "sea" or "see":
cu = see you
Some of these codes use numbers because the sound of the number is the same as the sound of another word (not the spelling!). For example, 4 (four) sounds like "for". And 8 (eight) sounds like "ate". So if we write L8 we get "late". If we write W8 we get "wait"!
Here are some more examples:
- aamof = as a matter of fact
- asap = as soon as possible
- b4 = before
- b4n = bye for now
- cul8er = see you later
- damhik = don't ask me how I know
- eta = estimated time of arrival
- f2f = face to face
- gf = girlfriend
- gmt = Greenwich Mean Time
- hth = hope this helps
- icbw = I could be wrong
- jam = just a minute
- k = okay
- lmk = let me know
- mcibty = my computer is better than yours
- oic = oh I see
- pls = please
- plz = please
- q = queue
- rumf = are you male or female?
- sil = sister-in-law
- tia = thanks in advance
- uok = you ok?
- vr = virtual reality
- wdymbt = what do you mean by that?
- y2k = year 2000
Journey to the future
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Over the past 40 years computers have transformed social and business life, despite remaining pretty unintelligent. Now the challenge is to get them thinking for themselves, writes Cliff Saran
When we began looking back on the 40 years of IT since Computer Weekly was launched, one thing became apparent. No matter how much technology has improved, no matter how far microelectronics has revolutionised the computer industry, computers are basically doing the same type of job.
In the 60s and 70s, science fiction writers presented a bleak future as artificial intelligence battled with human beings. Experts spoke of mass redundancies as automation took over. And the latest buzz was the paperless office.
Yet, by and large, computers still only do what they are told to do, and they are pretty useless without a program that instructs them, step by step, how to perform a task. Luckily for the human race, intelligence within these machines is still rudimentary. There is little chance that microchips will rule the world.
Instead, the past four decades has seen the use of IT explode in ways few people could have predicted. Computers do not have much intelligence on their own, but they have supported billions of business decisions by providing users with business intelligence data.
IT has enabled businesses to connect both to their customers and with suppliers and business partners. Call centres have given the public a way to keep in contact with a business or government department 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Sales orders, financial transactions and communications are sent in microseconds around the world. Customers can order products directly over the internet and the supplier's warehouse automatically dispatches the goods.
PC maker Dell came from nowhere to become the largest PC manufacturer in the world by going direct to the customer and allowing them to customise the PC they want to purchase. Amazon.com changed the way we buy books, CDs and DVDs.
The electronics industry has been revolutionised as researchers push the boundaries of integrated circuit design, allowing the creation of faster, smaller, more complex chips. And this has driven the adoption of IT into everyday lives. Even a humble toaster has a microprocessor with a program for the defrost, toast and cancel controls.
Who could have imagined we would all be carrying mobile phones with built in video cameras, capable of sending and receiving e-mail and accessing the internet? Not too long ago this was real James Bond stuff.
When Sony introduced the Walkman in 1979 it changed the way people listened to music - 60 minutes of music in a portable tape player. Today, thanks to breakthroughs in computer memory and hard discs, MP3 players can hold thousands of hours of music on a single memory stick. A computer that used to be the size of a room now comfortably fits on a wristwatch.
Today there are two main challenges. The first is finding a use for the massive amount of computer power at our fingertips. After all, computers are still pretty dumb on the evolutionary scale of artificial intelligence.
Even if an application can be found, the second problem is the management and technical difficulties that must be overcome in rolling out any IT project.
It is not that hard to demonstrate a proof of concept. But can the application scale, and will end-users be prepared to run it? Will the technical staff and the business consultants be sufficiently skilled to implement and deploy the system?
Can the software and hardware be rolled out cost-effectively? Is licensing prohibitive? Is the IT architecture and coding resilient enough to enable all end-users to run the application, without risking crashes, hacking attacks or the need for constant patching?
One of the themes of Computer Weekly during our first 40 years has been the need for strong project management. It can be the difference between success and failure. As the IT industry continues to mature, project management will move further up the agenda.
If we can get this right, maybe one day intelligent IT systems will improve the quality of our home and work lives, computers will be self-managing, and downtime will be a thing of the past.