Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Express yourself

Emoticons, an array of symbols that express emotions, play an important role in a Skype chat. Meeting a new person over Skype by using the chat mode means that you see only the written words, not the person’s facial expressions. You can’t hear the eagerness, sincerity, kindness, or humor in his or her voice. Sometimes a chat mode is an introductory meeting, which, if all goes well, leads to a conversation, a file transfer, or other privileges we extend to people we trust. The addition of an emoticon can break the ice between new Skype contacts.

Although Skype emoticons are generally animated, such as a “(dance)” emoticon that displays an icon-sized person dancing, you can change the behavior of your emoticons to be static images in your chat windows. To do so, deselect the Show Animated Emoticons option in your General options. If you want to eliminate the graphic representation of emoticons altogether and instead show text that represents the emoticon, deselect the Show Emoticons option. The dancing person emoticon appears as “(dance),” with the parentheses, in your chat window.

In addition to placing emoticons by clicking icons in the pop-up panel, you can enter the text representation in your text chat window. For example, to show the image of the emoticon with sunglasses, you enter (cool). Some undocumented emoticons that you might enjoy are also available. One of our favorites, especially after laborious hours of writing and editing, is the “(headbang)” emoticon. When you see this animation, you will know that emoticons can be very expressive.
(Try finding some you like at
http:// share.skype.com/sites/en/2006/05/new_emoticons_in_skype_25. html.)

In your chat window, you can display emoticons representing the flags for various countries. To display a flag for the United States, enter (flag:us); for Canada, enter (flag:ca). The choice of country flags is extensive and is based on the two-letter designation set by the International Standards Organization standard ISO-3166. You can find the full list of two-letter country abbreviations at www.iso.org/iso/en/prods-services/iso3166ma/02iso-3166-code-lists/index.html

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