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Whimsy and flamboyance is all well and good, but your choice of email address has the potential to hurt you professionally

My little sister used to have a ridiculous email address. I won’t tell you it exactly – I don’t want to flood her inbox – but it was something similar to “these_fish_have_bowties@example.com”. I asked her about it a few times, and she said it was an inside joke between her and her friends.

I see these kinds of email addresses all the time with my students. (Put your hand up if you have one too…)




Whimsy and flamboyance is all well and good, but your choice of email address has the potential to hurt you professionally. If you choose not to be serious, well – it shouldn’t be any surprise if people don’t take you seriously.

What I’m talking about is looking a little more professional for things like applying for a job. It’s fine if your friends know you as “ugly_terrano123@example.com”, but do you really want that as your first impression? It’s a bit like wearing thongs to a wedding.

Take some extra time to make a new email address today for all your formal, professional correspondence. A good bet is your firstname.middleinitial.lastname. If you have a common name, you might have to get creative, but again, don’t go overboard. Try different combinations of periods and underscores. For example Jon Smith could try:

  • JonSmith@example.com
  • Jon.Smith@example.com
  • Jonathan.Smith@example.com
  • Jonathan.R.Smith@example.com
  • Jonathan_Smith@example.com
  • Jon.Smith.Australia@example.com

A little creativity and a touch of perseverance and you’ll find one that’s available.

Use Gmail or Yahoo mail or Microsoft’s Outlook.com.  Avoid more exotic (and less professional looking) providers.

If you’re more technically minded, you might even consider getting your own domain. A domain (web address) is fairly cheap. If you shop around, a .com would cost you under $15 a year.

However, a .com.au has a few restrictions on it, most notably you need an ABN. An alternative would be an id.au. These domains are intended to be used by Australian individuals. Again, you should be able to get one for around $15 a year. I think “john@john.smith.id.au” looks much more professional that “that_smithy_boyee@example.com”.

Search for “gmail for your own domain” if you want to hook up your own custom email address to Gmail. It’s not too hard and you won’t have to pay extra for cloud storage of all those new emails you’ll be receiving.

My sister eventually gave up her fishy email address. It served her into university, but she was embarrassed filling out job applications after graduating. She found out that nobody would take “these_fish_have_bowties” seriously.

None of the addresses used in this article are the email addresses of real people.


Henry Sapiecha

Pakistani troops stand guard after the murder of Punjab's governor Salman Taseer, who criticised the country's blasphemy laws image www.socialselect.net

Pakistani troops stand guard after the murder of Punjab’s governor Salman Taseer, who criticised the country’s blasphemy laws. Photo: AP

​LAHORE, Pakistan: Late one night, the imam Shabir Ahmad looked up from prayers at his mosque to see a 15-year-old boy approaching with a plate in his outstretched left hand. On it was the boy’s freshly severed right hand.

Ahmad did not hesitate. He fled the mosque and left the village, in eastern Punjab province.

Earlier that night, January 10, he had denounced the boy as a blasphemer, an accusation that in Pakistan can get a person killed – even when the accusation is false, as it was in this case.

The boy, Anwar Ali, the devout son of a poor labourer, had been attending an evening prayer gathering at the mosque in the village of Khanqah when Ahmad asked for a show of hands of those who did not love the Prophet Muhammad. Thinking the cleric had asked for those who did love the prophet, Anwar’s hand shot up, according to witnesses and the boy’s family.

He realised his mistake when he saw that his was the only hand up, and he quickly put it down. But by then Ahmad was screaming “Blasphemer!” at him, along with many others in the crowd. “Don’t you love your prophet?” they called, as the boy fled in disgrace.

Anwar went home, found a sharp scythe and chopped off his right hand that same night. When he showed it to the cleric, he made clear it was an offering to absolve his perceived sin.

The police quickly caught the mullah and locked him up, but local religious leaders protested, and the authorities backed down and released him. After the international news media began picking up on the story over the weekend, the authorities rearrested Ahmad on Sunday, holding him on terrorism and other charges.

“There is no physical evidence against the cleric of involvement, but he has been charged for inciting and arousing the emotions of people to such a level that the boy did this act,” the district police chief, Faisal Rana, said.

The boy’s family, however, argues that the cleric did nothing wrong and should not be punished.

“We are lucky that we have this son who loves Prophet Muhammad that much,” Muhammad Ghafoor, Anwar’s father, said in a telephone interview. “We will be rewarded by God for this in the eternal world.”

Anwar, too, declined to make any charge against the mullah. “What I did was for love of the Prophet Muhammad,” he said.

Blasphemy is a toxic subject in Pakistan, where a confusing body of laws has enshrined it as a potentially capital offence but also makes it nearly impossible for the accused to defend themselves in court. Even publicly repeating details of the accusation is tantamount to blasphemy in its own right.

Such cases almost never make it to court, however. The merest accusation that blasphemy has occurred has the power to arouse lynching or mob violence.

The governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was assassinated by his own bodyguard in 2011, after Taseer criticised the country’s blasphemy laws and defended a Christian woman who had been falsely accused under them. The assassin is a national hero to many devout Pakistanis: His jail cell has become a pilgrimage site, and a mosque was renamed to honour him.

On Monday, Pakistan lifted a three-year-old ban on YouTube, which it had shut down because of accusations of airing anti-Islamic videos. The government announced that Google, which owns YouTube, had agreed to give it the right to block objectionable content. The Pakistani government blocks thousands of web pages it considers offensive.

“We have become a society so intoxicated by negative things in the name of religion that parents feel proud of sending their children to jihad and to die in the name of such activities,” said I.A. Rehman, secretary-general of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. “The government needs to do more to educate people and to speak out against extremism.”

Anwar Ali did not even go to a hospital after his amputation, but had his right arm’s stump bandaged at a village clinic and went home. Family members buried his hand in the village graveyard.

The New York Times


Henry Sapiecha

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The new Peach social network app lets friends share anything from doodles to animated GIFs to micro-blogs. Photo: Peach

Peach! It’s a new emoji-themed social network for iPhone that has probably already ridden its headline-driven hype wave to the ground. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting.

For real, I’m not even going to entertain the idea that Peach has a chance of taking off. It’s not particularly intuitive, it doesn’t offer a killer new feature that is easily explained, and social networks aren’t where the world is heading — messaging apps are. That’s why it was never actually downloaded by that many of us.

If a serious amount of people — more than say, Ello — are using it in six months, I will eat a newspaper.

Yet, even without users, Peach is worth looking at seriously. Indeed, I hope some of the people at Facebook Messenger — an app that does have serious numbers — are watching closely.

Some of the "magic words" you can use to post in Peach.Some of the “magic words” you can use to post in Peach.

Why? “Magic words”. Let me explain

Peach’s only real innovation is the use of certain trigger words which add content or context to your update. You type “song” and it listens to hear what music you’re listening to, then posts that. You type “weather” and it pulls in the weather with a nice little emoji. You type “battery” and it posts your battery percentage (again with an emoji). You type “draw” and it brings up a pad for you to draw on. You get it.

These magic words make use of all the ambient information your iPhone is already collecting on you — if you type “move” it will show how many kilometres or steps you have walked that day. The process of discovering what all the things you can type do is a lot of fun.

These kind of typed triggers are in no way new. As Brian Feldman writes in New York magazine, they actually harken back to the command line interfaces of old, which many programmers still swear by for productivity.

“The text field is key. It’s partly the solution to a problem that has long plagued mobile developers: Less screen real estate means less space to present interaction options to the users. But it’s also that, for the first time, engineers and developers are creating products for a population that’s truly digital native — for whom typing comes naturally and for whom digital actions don’t need to be metaphorised,” Feldman writes.

Essentially, we don’t need to be coddled by a world of icons and metaphors like we used to be. Typing out what we want is intuitive. It’s already how a lot of us get around our Macs (command-space-type-what-you-want), and has proven immensely popular on business-messaging platform Slack, where there are apps that let you order food by typing a number.

Facebook have been trying to make Messenger a “platform” for a long while, following the example of Chinese messaging giant WeChat. They’ve built in gifs, location sharing, and even Uber ordering. Yet these options are mostly hidden behind an ever increasing array of tiny tappable buttons — they’re not quite intuitive yet.

There’s a lot of ambient information your phone is already collecting.

You could type “location” to show someone where you are, “battery” to convey the urgency of a situation, and “weather” to make them jealous.

Contextual data is already used for “filters” on Snapchat. Why not add it in as typeable on Messenger?

There’s a very good chance Facebook are already well on the way to implementing this kind of thing themselves. Their AI service “M”,which should be able to do pretty much anything and everything for you, including book plane tickets, is interacted with by typing.

Bots have been taking over our interactions for a long while now, just as people have been predicting for years. Where they got it wrong is how we interact with them — using your voice is fun, but slow.

Typing is exact, quick, and takes far less power to process than voice. It makes sense to take advantage of that.



Henry Sapiecha