"Schlake (William Colburn)" email@example.com
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"
"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, 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.
 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, and not have to manually type my message into it.
Why don't you ring the person and leave a voice message? Idiot...