Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Advice of the Year

It's that time of the year when anybody and everybody with access to any medium creates 'Best of 2007' lists. Newspapers, Websites and TV Channels knock themselves silly trying to come up with innovative 'Best Of's.

Best Movie/Song of the Year.
Best Advertisement of the Year.
Best News Story of the Year.
Best Photograph of the Year.
Best Blog Post of the Year.
Best Fashion Faux-Pas of the Year.
Best Cricketer Unceremoniously Dumped by the BCCI of the Year.
Best Cosmetic Surgery of the Year.
Best Rich Fame-obsessed Degenerate Hollywood Star of the Year.
Best Traffic Control Mechanism of the Year (this should go to Gurgaon's cows)
Best Mobile Phone That's Actually a Phone and Not a Bloody Life-Controlling Supercomputer of the Year.
Best 'Best of' category of the year.

I normally do not give a flying fish about these things... but wait up, bandwagon. I'm clambering on.

So why 'Advice of the Year'? I don't really know. I've never given advice on this blog before. For one very good reason - giving advice typically requires some level of wisdom about the topic one is advising the world about. And wisdom is something, as several people have pointed out to me throughout my life, that I am in very short supply of. I'm still in short supply of wisdom, but the difference now is that I've ceased to give a damn about it.

So here's my pearl:

When send an SMS using your mobile phone's predictive text/dictionary, check the message before you press send.

As always, there's a story behind this.


Actually, wait a minute.


Before I get into the story, let me make my stand on predictive text/dictionary (which I shall henceforth refer to as PTD to avoid wearing out my fingers) very clear.

I'm a HUGE fan of Nokia's T9 PTD. I find it extremely convenient when typing an SMS, and believe it helps save me a LOT of energy that would otherwise go into hammering out messages on the tiny keys on the phone. This energy can then be directed towards critical tasks like flipping a channel on TV, opening a bag of chips, or scratching the itchy parts of one's body. The PTD rocks... but recent events have caused me to learn a very important lesson the hard way.

Aha! Piqued your interest, haven't I? "Recent events"... Hmmm... the suspense builds... The promise of a twist in the tale! This is like one of those passages at the end of a chapter in a novel that goes

She looked at him longingly as he opened the door and stepped out.
"Do you really have to go?"
He smiled.
"You know I have to, darling. But I'll be back in two hours. I promise."
"Love you."
"Love you too."
She shut the door softly, already going over the lovely evening she had planned for him.
Little did she know she would never see him again.
(Cue to brooding percussion score)

I'm sorry, I tend to digress. More on the recent events and the story in a bit.

Like I said, I'm a huge fan of this feature. I have, however, often come across people who are avowed haters of this function, and much prefer to spell out the words themselves.

Being a man of science, I decided to conduct a comprehensive and conclusive study to evaluate the benefits of predictive text. Here's the highly scientific and rigorous procedure I followed:
1. Approach five people at random and ask them to give me their five to ten most commonly SMSed words
2. Count and compare the number of key presses required with and without T9
3. That's about it

And here, ladies and gentlemen are the results. The format followed below is word (key presses with T9, key presses without T9)

Respondent 1:
post (4, 9)
stupidity (9, 19)
urinal (6, 14)
inhospitable (12, 27)
chocolate (9, 21)
movies (7, 16)

Respondent 2:
Kaka (8, 6)
Mia (5, 5)
television (10, 26)
man (3, 4)
she's (5, 18)
smoking (7, 16)
hot (4, 6)

Respondent 3:
adaptor (7, 11)
strategy (8, 16)
market (6, 10)
paper (5, 8)
place (5, 10)
sunlight (8, 18)
there (5, 10)

Respondent 4:
meet (4, 6)
call (4, 10)
please (6, 13)
me (3, 3)
ok (2, 5)
girl (4, 10)

Respondent 5:
no (3, 5)
are (3, 6)
you (3, 8)
f***ing (11, 16)
nuts? (8, 13)
get (3, 4)
lost (4, 11)
freak (5, 11)

Net result: On average, with-PTD words are 50.13% as long as without-PTD words.

There you go. QED. I rest my case, and all that jazz.

We have now established that PTD rocks, Nokia's T9 in particular. As a result of my fervent belief in the usefulness and infallibility of this feature, I have of late become just a leeetle lax in terms of assuming it will always throw up the word that I intend to use in my SMS.

Back to the story now.


A few days ago. After a long hard day at work, I came home tired and looking forward to a few hours of destressing. I kicked off my smelly socks and settled down in front of the TV. I flipped channels... Survivor China - bleah. Discussions about the Gujarat elections - yawn. Reruns of the World Female Naked Mud Wrestling Championships - not again. And then I happened upon Pink Panther, the movie.

The movie itself is no great shakes, but I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Steve Martin (even post Pink Panther). And so I settled down to two hours of simple entertainment that wouldn't be too taxing for my severely constrained mental faculties.

In the midst of the movie, a friend SMSed me: "Hey, what's up? What are you doing?"

I sent her a reply saying I was watching Pink Panther. I got a reply before I could say "Inspector Clouseau" (Not that I was trying to, of course.) "You're what? Freak!"

Naturally, I was taken aback. People insult me all the time, and to be fair I usually give them ample reason to do so. But this sort of completely unprovoked attack took even a man of steel like myself by surprise.

To make my stand clear, I decided to send my earlier message again. "I'm watching Pink -"

And that's when I realised that T9's default for P-A-N-T-H-E-R is P-A-N-T-I-E-S.

One lives and learns.


Nandu said...

LOL. I am sure you were watching them too :P Or, watched them sometime!

Lizzy said...

LOL! ACP to Nandu's comment. I was about to write the same thing :)

NIRMAL said...

Happy bday :)

Hilarious post Dude!

Divya Das said...

Happy Birthday AC.... Hoping to get the usual "Same to you"!! Still remmeber the two surprise parties we had?!

Anonymous said...

Oh was your bday? Bday greetings and all that usual stuff.

& to the post,LOL LOL.
I havent yet gotten around using Nokia's dear old T9 PTD..thought my sister swears by it.

And reading this...the prayogam (experiment) will have to wait....:D


DiVa said...

Oh Man I miss Text messaging. Goach and I used to have T9 versions of peoples names :-) yours was/is "act". WE still refer to you by that name. Even without T9.

AC said...

@Nandu & Lizzy: No comment :)

@Nirmal: Thanks da :)

AC said...

@DD: Thank you :)

@Ag: Thanks man... and do give T9 a shot, it's incredibly convenient!

AC said...

@Diva: Why was I act?!

DiVa said...

Cos it was difficult to type AC in t9.(we had to toggle to get ac) The closest word that T9 had was Act.

AC said...

Ah... makes sense. Clever work, Fitya :)

DiVa said...

Ah ! but you are mistaken. It is just fit :-). Guess who these people are inobi and anti :-)

praveen said...

belated birthday wishes AC

CoNfUsEd said...

ouch! btw, are you still pro-t9??

AC said...

@Diva: Got anti... but no idea about inobi :(

@Praveen: Thanks man :)

AC said...

@confused: Oh yes, very much so... now I just take a couple of seconds extra to proofread my messages before sending them :)

Kraz Arkin said...


An old post on a related topic.

Am waiting for the emotion to wear off before writing a Taare Zameen Par review.