Archive for October, 2010:
I texted my friend the other day that “I Java free time Thursday morning.” Java – with the capital J, of course – instead of ‘have’. This was okay though, because this was in response to his text to me that he would “put a pig together for me.” His second text clarified “that was supposed to be pkg” which made a lot more sense but was a lot less interesting.
We’ve all had issues with Spell Check in the past. All in all, it’s a reasonable program. It checks whether what you typed exists, and makes an effort to correct it if there’s a nearly-there actual word that Spell check knows.
However, there are two major problems with this: First, Spell Check makes no account for typos. It doesn’t look to see that you might not have actually thought that ‘abd’ was a word, but maybe your finger just slipped to the next nearest key.
Second, (maybe in an effort to be more efficient?) cell phone Spell Check has gotten seriously aggressive, often going so far as to see three letters and post the most common things you might have meant. So, though your ‘abd’ may have been an attempt at ‘and’ your cell Spell Check might be looking forward to ‘abdomen’ – because that’s a common thing to text!
It seems that quotes are a tricky thing. Or at least they are for a lot of people. Can we put a lock on the quotation mark key until folks prove they know how to use them? I mean, there’s the obvious someone-is-speaking need for those two funny apostrophes, but other than that, they are rarely used correctly.
Let’s review: Aside from direct wording of speech, there are two main uses for quotes. 1 – the need for a new term. Something was so great we made up a new term for it and we show it off with look-at-what-I-just-made-up marks. 2 – sarcasm. We mean the opposite. If we say: antibiotics are “miracle” drugs, then we expect to read about resistant bacteria and pharmacological company greed. The quotes tell us that.
Instead, the marks are used willy nilly like we never had any idea what to do with them. No, your store doesn’t have “CDs” . . . you didn’t make that term up! And it’s not sarcastic, because you have actual CDs in there. (Don’t get me started on the apostrophe often put into CDs – as though the CD owned something.)
It’s so bad that correct use of quotation marks doesn’t get the attention it deserves either. We received a notice in the mail that our kids’ school system was offering a way to pay lunch money online for a “nominal” fee. I didn’t even notice the quotes! It never occurred to me that they would be used correctly! But it was right! When I called, the school officials were shocked that the charge-per-use was so high. But the letter was right, it was “nominal” (see ‘sarcasm’ above.)
There are two things people should know before they get involved in any project with me. 1 – I like to buck the system. Just because I can. If you want it done, just tell me it will never work. 2 – If there’s a weird way to do something, that’s how I’ll do it.
This is how I came to type the way I do. When I was in junior high, I didn’t really see the need for typing class. How fast could you really write code anyway? (I know now, stupid question.) I was told that I couldn’t look at the keys, I would never get fast enough to make the minimum times. That there was no way to memorize enough to be fast enough.
If you were paying attention just a moment ago, then you know where this is going. I did it. I memorized entire paragraphs verbatim, then looked at my fingers while typing. I passed my test, and my happiness at this success lasted until I actually had to type something. (I do also realize that this is a total waste of a really cool skill.)
I later learned as a writer that I could at least get into a groove where my subconscious could take over. But this really pissed me off. Clearly my subconscious could type, why couldn’t I? When I put all the pieces together, I realized that even my subconscious can’t type. I merely had motor patterns for various common words or phrases. If something was uncommon, I was back to looking at the keys.
Yes, the apocalypse is upon us. Soonish. I’m not sure yet exactly when it will happen, but I have been seeing the leading edge, and it is coming at us at an increasing speed. What I find most interesting about these signs of ruination is that they are actually ‘signs’ – or more symbols. No, the water isn’t going to run red, and I don’t foresee frogs falling from the heavens, but I do envision the collapse of society.
Here’s what I saw that made me start wondering . . .
My son wrote a word document to help him deliver a presentation on a historical figure. While he worked on the family computer, I was in the next room and checked in periodically. At one point, I suggested he save his document. He didn’t know how, so I talked him through it . . . or I tried. It sparked an argument that went like this:
“I can’t save, there’s no disk to click on.”
“Yes there is. It’s blue and it’s about the third icon in from the left.”
“No, there’s no disk there.”
I finally put down my own work and came in and pointed at the blue disk that was third in from the left, just like I’d said. My son then gave me a dirty look and responded with “That’s not a disk.”
And he was right. The little, squarish, blue icon for ‘save’ is of a three-n-a-quarter floppy. He’d never seen one. After blinking repeatedly, and feeling really old (because I can remember five-n-a-half inch floppies, too!) I ran to get him one to show him . . .and couldn’t find any. We don’t have any in the house. I think there are a few out in the garage, but I had to search the six computers in the house (yes, six) and only found two that even had a place to put a three-n-a-quarter inch floppy. That little blue icon, with the read-window and the sticker to write on, is no longer what a disk is.