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Dot-WTF? These Top-Level Domains Could Be Coming Your Way

In June, ICANN announced that over 1,400 new generic top-level domain names (in other words, .wedding, .sex, and .lawyer) were under consideration to join the familiar .com and its kin. Weirdness has ensued.

A Brief Technical Lesson

In the world of web domains, there are two crucial parts: the Domain Name itself (like "mentalfloss") and the Top Level Domain (like ".com"). Those Top Level Domains (TLDs) are broken up into two broad categories: "generic" (gTLDs) like .com, .net, .org, .biz, and such; and then a staggering array of "country codes" (ccTLDs) like .uk, .jp, .tv (Tuvalu), and on and on. (I wrote about the latter in The Weird World of Country-Specific Web Domains.)

When you type a web address into your browser, the browser looks up the site first by using the TLD (".com"), then the Domain Name ("mentalfloss"), then connects you to the site. All of this technical business happens behind the scenes; what's more interesting is the weird domain names companies are choosing -- and the political problems those are causing. We already have .xxx (which carries the tagline "Let's Be Adult About It"), but it took eleven years to make it a reality. Now we're coming right out and talking about .sex.

Just because a new TLD has been proposed doesn't mean it'll be granted. An evaluation process is underway, and companies will have to wait to find out whether they'll get to have .sex in .madrid.

Strange Choices

The nonprofit organization responsible for managing TLDs (called ICANN) allowed companies around the world to propose new generic TLDs from January 12 through May 30 this year. The proposals cost $185,000 each, and over 1,900 proposals came in, covering around 1,400 unique TLD extensions. Many companies applied for the same TLDs because when proposing a TLD name, you didn't get to see if anybody else had proposed it (although a technical glitch apparently revealed some of the proposals early). The resulting list of proposed TLDs turns up some strange choices:

.george

Wal-Mart applied for a series of TLDs: .asda (its British supermarket chain), .george, .grocery, .samsclub, .walmart, and .???. But wait, what's up with .george? That's for Wal-Mart's "George" fashion line. I am disappointed that they didn't apply for .thunder to power that titan of branding Dr Thunder (formerly "Southern Lightning").

.dog people

Three companies applied for .dog, including Google. No one applied for .cat. (Update, from reader Zirta -- it already exists, promoting the Catalan language.)

.blog versus .book

.blog received nine applications (despite being so last decade), but good old .book also garnered nine applications -- despite being so last millennium. Google is going after both, while Amazon is just pursuing .book (along with .author and .read...and oddly enough, .joy).

.earth

In a slightly creepy move, Google and Interlink (a Japanese company) are vying for ownership of .earth.

.you

Amazon and Google both want to .talk to .you. Neither is interested in .dating, though Pine Fest, LLC is. Google wants your .dad and .mom to get involved.

.sucks

A three-way race is on for .sucks. One of the competitors is "Dog Bloom LLC," which, aside from its colorful name and aspiration for sucky glory, appears to have no web presence. According to CNN, Dog Bloom LLC is one of 307 subsidiaries of Donuts Inc., a domain registration company. Donuts created this series of mini-companies using random, computer-generated company names -- many of which sound like band names. CNN lists some of the weirdest:

That computer spat out such gems as Spring Frostbite, Hidden Frostbite, Bitter Frostbite, Wild Frostbite, Binky Frostbite, Bitter Sunset, Half Sunset, Corn Sunset, Sand Sunset, Dog Edge, Atomic Maple, Atomic Madison, Extra Madison, Big Dynamite, Extra Dynamite, Fox Dynamite, Corn Dynamite, Pixie Station, Bitter McCook, Atomic McCook, Atomic Tigers, Sea Goodbye, Sea Corner, John Goodbye and Just Goodbye, among many, many others.

.wtf

"Hidden Way LLC" (one of those Donuts subsidiaries) did have the stones to apply for .wtf. Good luck with that one, guys. (Seven comments have already been filed objecting to this TLD, including several from Saudi Arabia -- more on that in a bit.)

.adult, .sex, and .porn

The company behind .xxx (ICM Registry) also applied for .adult, .sex, and and .porn. It faces competition in the sex space -- another company is going after .sex, and a third is looking for .sexy. .porn and .adult were not applied for by any other companies, though. Seven companies are vying for .love.

.football less popular than .tennis

.football received just two applications, but .tennis received four. .soccer also received four, plus one for .futbol. Even .rugby got three. .basketball got three, and .baseball got two. Take that, American sports! (On the other hand, there was one application for .nfl -- maybe that's all we really need.)

Note: .sport and .sports are also proposed TLDs.

.app

Thirteen separate companies want to own the .app TLD, making it the most popular new TLD of the bunch. However, nobody applied for .apps, .appstore, or .application. Try a little originality, folks!

Insurance Companies Love Typing

There is a three-way tie for the longest English-language TLD. These eighteen-character (!) TLDs are all for insurance companies, who clearly see no issue with typing ultra-long names: .northlandinsurance, .northwesternmutual, and .travelersinsurance. Keep in mind that these go at the end of what you type in a browser, so it could lead to insanely long links. Maybe this explains the length of the policy documents they mail me.

SC Johnson also applied for .afamilycompany (its longstanding slogan), which leads us to the slightly terrifying prospect of a website URL having vastly more characters on the right than on the left: http://scjohnson.afamilycompany.

Saudi Arabia Weighs In

The proposed TLDs are up for public comment through the end of September. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recently made news when it filed 160 comments objecting to, among other things, the proposed TLDs for .gay, .baby, .sucks, .wtf, .shia, and .catholic. In the comment regarding .baby, user "Abdulmjid" wrote (in part):

We consider there is a risk that this string is used in the same way as .XXX to host pornographic websites.

Many individuals and societies may find this string offensive on religious and/or cultural grounds. We oppose the introduction of this gTLD string on both of these grounds, and because pornography causes huge damage to society's social fabric. Pornography undermines gender equality and threatens public morals by objectifying and exploiting women. The values expressed in pornography clash with the family concept and they undermine the traditional values that promote marriage, family, and children.

There are a total of 49 objections (most are not from Saudi Arabia) to the .baby domain, including a variety related to concerns over child pornography. Yikes. There are 262 objections to .sex -- and you can make your own comment if you like!

What Happens Now?

In short, we wait. There are tons of issues to work out at this stage -- not least is how to decide which applicant gets those heavily contested TLDs (like .app, .blog, and .book), or what to do with controversial proposed TLDs. ICANN has a massive website with resources on the whole process, including a full list of suggested TLDs and a helpful guidebook in six languages. Stay tuned for more breaking domain-name news from .mentalfloss. (Oh shoot, we forgot to apply! We'll settle for .smart instead.)

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13 Tricks and Tips to Get the Most Out of Google Maps
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It’s hard to imagine life without Google Maps. Memorizing routes and printing out driving directions seems like a distant memory in a world where a detailed map of any location is available at a moment's notice. Still, you could be using it more. Google’s popular software is packed with secrets, tricks, and Easter eggs beyond what you might expect. Ahead of the popular tool's update later this year, here are 13 ways to get the most out of Google Maps, from one-handed use to offline location tracking.

1. CHECK WAIT TIMES AT YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT

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Before you head out for dinner, use Google Maps to see if you’re about to waste an hour standing in line. Just search for the name of the restaurant on your desktop browser or in Google Maps for iOS and Android. Then, scroll down to the Popular Times chart and select a specific time. There, you'll see how long the wait usually is at that time and make your plans accordingly.

2. SEE HOW STEEP YOUR BIKE RIDE WILL BE


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There’s nothing worse than unexpectedly hitting a big hill while riding your bike. Next time, plug your route into Google Maps and ask for biking directions. You’ll see a graph that shows the steepness of each part of your trip and be able to avoid those big inclines in the future.

3. ADD MULTIPLE DESTINATIONS TO YOUR TRIP

Google Maps typically defaults to simple point-A-to-point-B for directions, but it’s easy to add an extra stop to your trip. In a browser, press the “+” icon under your destination. On Android or iOS, tap on the three horizontal dots in the top right corner to pull up a menu and then select “Add stop.”

4. TRAVEL THROUGH TIME WITH STREET VIEW

Street View is a fun way to explore neighborhoods all over the world, but it’s also a treasure trove of old photos. Just launch Street View in your browser and click on the clock-shaped icon in the top left corner. From there, you can browse through all the pictures Google’s taken over the years for any specific spot.

5. MEASURE DISTANCE

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If you’re using Google Maps in your browser you can easily measure the distance between any two locations. Right click somewhere on the map and select “Measure Distance.” Then, click anywhere else to see how far away it is.

6. USE GOOGLE MAPS WITHOUT AN INTERNET CONNECTION

If you’re traveling and you know you won’t have any internet, you can download a map of the area ahead of time. Pull up that location in Google Maps on your phone. Then, open the settings menu and select “Offline maps” to save it. When you arrive, you’ll be able to view the map without any service and even track your location thanks to GPS.

7. SEE YOUR ENTIRE GOOGLE MAPS HISTORY

Google Maps tracks you everywhere you go, and you can pull that information up whenever you want. Head to this website to see a detailed map of all the places you’ve ever been. If that creeps you out, you can also click on “Manage Location History” to switch this feature off.

8. ZOOM IN AND OUT WITH JUST ONE FINGER

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Pinch-to-zoom works fine most of the time, but if you only have one free hand it’s not that easy to do. Thankfully, there’s another option that only requires one free finger: Tap twice on your smartphone screen and then hold your finger down on the spot you want to get a closer look at. Google Maps will zoom in, and from there you can adjust the scale by sliding your finger up and down.

9. REMEMBER WHERE YOU PARKED YOUR CAR

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The next time you park your car, boot up Google Maps and tap on the blue dot that shows your location. When a menu pops up, select “Set as parking location” to leave a marker on your map for later so you can easily find your car when you’re ready to leave.

10. TURN THE STREET VIEW ICON INTO A UFO

If you want to have a little fun with Pegman, the yellow Street View figure, just search for Area 51 in Google Maps. Then, grab the man-shaped icon and hover it over the map to make him transform into a flying saucer.

11. SHARE YOUR LOCATION WITH FRIENDS

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If you’re meeting a friend, this feature makes it easy for them to track you down. Open Google Maps on iOS or Android and pull up the options menu (located in the top left corner) and select “Location sharing.” From here you can decide how long to reveal your location and who to share it with.

12. MAKE A LIST OF YOUR FAVORITE SPOTS.

Google Maps makes it easy to store all your favorite restaurants (or parks or book stores) in one spot. Tap on a location and hit “Save.” Then, select “New list” and give it a name. Now, you can add new locations to your existing lists. You can also share lists with friends, and they’re even accessible when you’re offline.

13. CHECK OUT SKI ROUTES.

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Google Maps has information on almost 100 ski routes from across the United States and Canada. Head to this webpage to start planning your next ski trip.

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The 25 Most In-Demand Job Skills Right Now, According to LinkedIn
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Looking for a new job? Depending on what line of work you’re in, you may want to brush up on your technical skills—or learn some new ones. LinkedIn recently released a list of the 25 most desirable skills for 2018, and it’s clear that many employers are on the lookout for people with experience in computing, web development, and software and data engineering.

LinkedIn analyzed data from its member base of more than 500 million people to determine which skills are most needed by employers, according to Business Insider. The thousands of individual skills that can be found across member profiles were grouped into overarching categories (iOS, for instance, would go under the mobile development umbrella). Next, LinkedIn analyzed hiring and recruiting activity during an eight-month span and “identified the skill categories that belonged to members who were more likely to start a new role within a company and receive interest from companies.”

Here’s the full list:

1. Cloud and Distributed Computing
2. Statistical Analysis and Data Mining
3. Middleware and Integration Software
4. Web Architecture and Development Framework
5. User Interface Design
6. Software Revision Control Systems
7. Data Presentation
8. SEO/SEM Marketing
9. Mobile Development
10. Network and Information Security
11. Marketing Campaign Management
12. Data Engineering and Data Warehousing
13. Storage Systems and Management
14. Electronic and Electrical Engineering
15. Algorithm Design
16. Perl, Python, and Ruby
17. Shell Scripting Languages
18. Mac, Linux, and Unix Systems
19. Java Development
20. Business Intelligence
21. Software QA and User Testing
22. Virtualization
23. Automotive Services, Parts and Design
24. Economics
25. Database Management and Software

Many of these skills can be learned from the comfort of your home via online classes that are available on platforms like Udemy, Coursera, edX, and Lynda. While it couldn’t hurt to know these hard skills, 57 percent of business leaders surveyed by LinkedIn said soft skills are even more important. Those tend to be more universal across careers, with leadership, communication, collaboration, and time management being identified as the most crucial soft skills to have in 2018.

If you’re ready to start learning a new skill but don’t know where to start, check out this list of 25 ways to learn a new skill quickly.

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