In a comment exchange on my I’m Worried About Google post, Robin and I talked about spelling bees and math bees. I was horrible at spelling when I was a child. In fairness to the truth, I’m still pretty bad. I did do pretty well in a couple of math bees, but as I explained to Robin:
“… my success may have been due to what the teachers thought was an inappropriate approach to math. But, in a Math Bee, you don’t have to ‘show your work’ so I had an advantage. Because you did have to show your work on tests, my grades were lower than you might expect. But, I’m still pretty good at math, so I’m not complaining.”
For example, while a friend was recently reaching for a calculator, I provided the answer (accurate to the required 2 decimal places) to: 50 divided by 17. I said 2.94, because:
3 x 17 would be 51. So we need to subtract 1/17th from 3. I don’t know what 1/17th is, but I do know that 1/16th = 0.0625 – ‘cuz rote memorization of halves, quarters, eighths and sixteenths was a thing when I was a kid – so 1/17th would be a little less than 0.06, so, yeah, 2.94.
Similarly 3 x 97 = 300 – 9 = 291
So, in a math bee, I’m golden. On paper, those are supposed to look like the stuff in the drawings, but I did the math the same way in my head, so showing my work wasn’t ever going to end well.
Regarding the other side of my title, I was pretty sure that my inability to spell had been fully offset by spell-check technology.
Then – I – bought – an – iPhone.
There’s just no explaining the iPhone’s spell check mechanism. I mean some cone-head at Apple can explain it, but it doesn’t make any sense. I have never written a spell-checker, but I am familiar with one method that uses a large list of known words and calculates a value called “edit distance”
I get beat up a lot for technical posts. It’s Monday, not Saturday, but I’m still a little nervous about going into the weeds on this. Maybe I’ll include it at the bottom, if I can finish without a lot more words.
In addition to the fact that the iPhone is just scary with the words it thinks are words, the kind of typing mistakes I make don’t lend themselves to being auto-corrected. Here’s a short list of my favorite typing-induced spelling errors:
The B-space error – I hit the letter ‘b’ instead of the space bar, generating errors like ‘mybhouse’ ‘mybcar’ and ‘firstbchoice’ – spell-check never helps.
The pay-it-forward error – This is when I hit the space bar, but I hit it before the first word is complete. I end up giving the last letter of word one to word two. This results in short phrases like: ‘it’s col doutside’ and ‘I coul duse more time’ – the list goes on.
Impolite error – My iPhone doesn’t seem to understand the concept of saying thank you. This results in two different errors, neither of which can be reliably corrected. Error one is the result of my pressing any key near the ‘a’ instead of the ‘a’ – ‘thsnks’ ‘thwnk you’ ‘thznks’, etc. Error two is caused when my right hand gets ahead of my left hand while typing. This yields: ‘thnaks’ or ‘thakns’ which you would think my phone could fix, if it had manners. “What do you say, iPhone?”
Surprise surprise, I used too many words so I don’t have room for the mini-lecture on ‘edit-distance’ – don’t all go “awwwwww” at once.
Please enjoy a few more of my favorite iPhone-in-action screen shots, and have a great week.