Thursday, August 18, 2005

Techno-loser...

"Schlake (William Colburn)" schlake@nmt.edu
Thu, 4 Aug 2005 15:24:23 -0600

My phone made me look like an idiot

The first time I tried sending an SMS message on my new phone, I was horrified at what happened. Attempts to type in a word generated huge blocks of garbage text, beeping, and a refusal of the phone to continue. I was trying to do it the "old way", by hitting a key multiple times to tell which of the three letters I meant.

"That would make me happy." -> "8442809666885553062553304427 79991"

The space represents a pause in my typing to wait for it to reset the letter selector. The new phone has smart spelling, so I can type a single number for each word and it will magically spell the word I want. I resisted, but the lure of magic won me over, and now I can SMS faster with many less key strokes. I'm very happy with it almost all the time. Magic is great stuff!

Today I sent an SMS message.

"That would make me happy." -> "8428096853062530630427791"

Except....

"8428096853062530630427791" -> "That would make if happy."

My cat is named "If", so now it suddenly looks like I'm talking about my cat (and I misspelled his name), and not me.

I immediately sent a followup message where I manually corrected the spelling of "me" and appended a second sentence: "I have to pay more attention to the auto speller."

The reply was: "You mean pay more attention."

First thought: Oh no, what I did I send? Thankfully, I only sent "I must pay more attention to the auto speller."

It is embarrassing that I made the same error in my message correcting myself. The risks are that magic isn't a DWIM. If the phone could 'do what I meant' then I could talk to my phone in plain english to transmit my message to someone halfway across the country[1], and not have to manually type my message into it. Another risk is complacency: I have grown to depend on auto-spelling, which is right so often that I've stopped reading what it is doing and I just continue merrily typing away assuming that everything is golden.

[1] I find it surprising how many people I know who consider their phone to be a text-messaging platform that happens to have voice-chat capabilities instead of a voice-chat platform that happens to have text-messaging capabilities.

His phone didn't make him look like an idiot, I think he did a fine job of it himself.

He seems to be a tad disapproving of people who think of their phones as messaging devices:
If the phone could 'do what I meant' then I could talk to my phone in plain english to transmit my message to someone halfway across the country[1], and not have to manually type my message into it.

Why don't you ring the person and leave a voice message? Idiot...

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