Saturday, 2 August 2008

Let's Talk About Text

I'm sure someone, somewhere has griped about this before, but: predictive texting. You know, you press the combination of keys and the phone offers you suggestions of what you meant to type, and you scroll through the options until you come to the right one.

Of course, if you fail to look what at what you're doing, and therefore ail to do the right amount of scrolling, you end up with 'he' instead of 'if', 'rose' instead of 'sore' and 'gone' instead of 'home'. Which is OK as long as the other person is reasonably clued in and can work out what you meant to type.

But here's my gripe: how do they decide which order to put the word options in, and why is it always so awkward? I would have thought there were 2 logical orders: (1) alphabetical (a bit cumbersome, but you'd know where you were), or (2) the most commonly used words first.

My phone appears to have gone for the latter, but fallen short en route. It is, it has to be said, an improvement on my previous phone, which prefered 'nun' to 'mum', with frequently bemusing consequences. But, if I wish to use the word 'card' (as in 'Thanks for the card, I really appreciated it'), I am obliged to scroll through 'care' (tantalisingly close), 'case' (getting colder), 'base' (colder again), 'acre' (huh?), 'bard' (now this is just getting silly), 'bare' (ok), 'barf' (pur-leeeeease) and 'cape' by way of preliminary diversion. 'Care', 'case' and 'bare' I can live with; I can think of plausible circumstances in which I might use those, but 'bard'? Or 'barf'?

Likewise, 'sons'. As in 'He's coming round this evening and bringing one of his sons'. Now, this one plays a blinder first: 'son' is option 1 on its keystrokes, but as soon as I hit the 7 to get the final s, it turns into 'poor'; I am then offered 'pomp', 'poop' (!) and 'romp', none of which I can ever imagine wishing to use in a text message under any circumstances.

If I turn predictive texting off, I am then faced with a totally illogical keyboard, on which it is twice as hard to type an 's' as it is to type a 'q'.

Anyway, my favourite text story is the guy who laboured for too long under the delusion that 'lol' meant 'lots of love', and not 'laugh out loud'. And so, when he received a text from a friend whose father had just died, responded with 'Sorry to hear that. Lol.' and wondered why he was suddenly being spurned. Although, on another level, why would you report the death of your father via text, and why wouldn't you work out that maybe your friend might not have meant 'laughing out loud' in his reply?

Which makes me think maybe this whole text thing is simply not logical.


Anonymous said...

Due to the emergence of SMS messages, the significance of effective text entry on limited-size keyboards has increased. A "new" method has been devised to enter text more efficiently using a mobile telephone keyboard.
This method, which we call HMS, predicts words from a sequence of keystrokes using a dictionary and a function combining bigram frequencies and word length.

I do hope is helpful


Anonymous said...

May I also point you to the alternatives above.