I make a lot of mistakes while typing, but I really hate posting/texting/tweeting stuff with typos. I am the guy who retweets my own thoughts with the hashtag #nowTypoFree. Unfortunately, I also send people strings of text messages like:
There are entire websites devoted to iPhone typos during text-message conversations. I think some of them are staged for effect, but I can believe that some really happened. My wife recently asked me if I look before I send text messages. I do, but somewhere along the line, Apple introduced a different type of spell-breaking to the capabilities of my iPhone. I can type “I am going to stand a ball on Mt Maddie” meaning that I’m going to put one of the dog’s soccer balls on the pile of snow in our yard. I guess my phone doesn’t think those words make sense in the context of the same sentence, so it changes “stand a” to “Satan”, ‘cuz that makes way more sense. When I typed them, “stand” and “a” were correct but the phone reached back over the word “ball” and changed them. Fortunately, I caught that one.
There are lots of blog entries out there describing ways to prevent this type of “correction” and / or ways to work around this problem. There are also a few that explain the conspiracy theory about Apple and Satan, but as one person commented on one blog:
“there is no good reason to change a correctly spelled word. If I misused it, it’s my fault.”
One of the things that would help me, is a different keyboard. If I could enlarge some keys, shrink others and add a few missing ones, I would be very happy. Before I show you my design, let me share a few of my common mistakes:
“All” becomes “a” as in “he took all the beer” becomes “he took a the beer” which makes me sound like I’ve had too many beers. The key sequence that causes this is A, L, backspace.
“Besutiful” becomes “be dutiful” – It started when I misspelled beautiful but why would you change “my wife is beautiful” to “my wife is be dutiful” – Think about that.
“S” for “D” or “D” for “S'” is another common error I make. So finishes becomes finished as in “I hope he finished the task tomorrow” Yeah, I look like an idiot.
Historically, my most common error, regardless of device or keyboard involves substituting the letter “B” for the space bar. I remember when I was learning to program and we had to create IBM Card decks where every space mattered. Literally. If a line of code required a space in position 5, it was one space not two or three. We used to use a lower-case “b” with a slash drawn through it to represent exactly one space in our notes. I think the reason we chose that combination is the number of times programmers hit “b” when they mean to hit the spacebar.
The kind of typo that scares me is when my phone makes these errors in ways that might get me into trouble. I recently wanted to text that “I am watching the pregame show” and it was turned into “I am watching the pregnant show.”
One scary typo I make a lot, and one that is going to eventually get me into serious trouble with female friends and family is when I type “thong” when I mean “thing” – someday, that is not going to end well for me.
My favorite typos occur after my phone has remembered previous misspelled words that I haven’t corrected and suggests or substitutes them for different versions of the same error. For instance, instead of typing “What,” I typed “Wsht” which my phone changes to “Whst” – Thanks.
A recent “correction” popped up as I was trying to comment on a blog that I follow. The blog is devoted to descriptions and pictures of daylilies. Apparently, my iPhone doesn’t know what a daylily is, or how to make it plural because it changed the word to “dillydallies.” Now that’s a commonly used word in 21st century America.
In order to help me avoid actual errors and the precursors to inappropriate-substitution errors, I would like to be able to change my keyboard from the one shown on the left to the one shown on the right.
Notice that in addition to resizing the problem children, I have also added arrow keys. This is the one thing I don’t understand about Apple, they don’t seem to think people make mistakes. My Mac, as far as I know, has a Delete key that acts like a Backspace, but no actual Backspace key. I need to be able to correct errors in both directions. The iPhone has never had arrow keys (which would help me immensely). I think that the keyboard I’ve designed would solve almost all of my problems, except the times when I am so far off the mark on spelling a word that spell check doesn’t even offer me a choice.