Adventures in cell phone AutoCompletion

As the least technologically savvy person in my family, I’m typically the one to inherit the oldest piece of electronics making its way through our household. This laptop that I’m current working on is an IBM ThinkPad, and I believe IBM sold its hardware division to China in about 1957. My cell phone is a Motorola “Razr,” very cool when it was introduced in 2004 but now hopelessly out of date. My iPod is a diesel.

In my family, when I say I’m “into 3G,” it means I’m third in line to get the latest gadgets.

Getting back to the cell phone, it’s virtually an antique in today’s high-turnover digital world. I sometimes think it would be more useful if it had an “o” added to its name, and I could use it to shave. I really like to use the text-messaging feature, even though it’s one of those keyboards with three letters per key rather than the modern qwerty interface that my wife and son have on their Blackberrys. So it’s awkward, but I’m an old typesetter and I love the fact that I can now set type any time, anywhere. Even, to the eternal annoyance of my wife, from the other end of the house when I need to ask her a question.

The problem is that this is a used cell phone, and the memory has not been wiped completely clean from the previous user, who was apparently involved in a number of questionable activities. The reason I know this is that the auto-complete function, which uses past messages you’ve typed to predict future ones, has come up with some very bizarre suggestions. I start to input an innocent communication about some routine daily activity, and it’s transformed into either sinister plotting or completely irrational pronouncements.

Some recent examples:

  • When I tried to ask my friend “when will you be home?”, it tried to ask “when will you be homo?”
  • When I tried to tell me wife I was “stopping by the atm”, it tried to say I was “stopping by the atomic bomb.”
  • When I asked my sister “will you pick up the baby?”, it tried to ask “will you pick up the baboon?”
  • When I went to a charity pancake breakfast that my son couldn’t attend because he was sick, I wanted to ask him “would you like strawberry or blueberry pancakes?”, it tried to ask “would you like strawberry or blueberry pancreas?”
  • When I tried to ask my son if he wanted anything from “burger king,” it tried to ask if he wanted anything from the “burn center.” (Admittedly, the two are similar.)
  • After I learned that he did want something, I tried to ask about “French fries,” and the phone tried to ask if he wanted “French Colonialism 1684-1803” with his Whopper Junior.
  • When I tried to ask my mother “do we need any milk?”, it instead wanted to start a philosophical geopolitical discussion about “do we need any military?”
  • When I tried to ask my wife if it was “raining at home yet?”, it wanted to ask the offensive “raining at home yeti?”
  • When I reminded her that we needed “to pay the phone bill,” it wanted to ask a question about the mythological “phone bison.”
  • When I wanted to tell my son that I had “to work overtime,” it (perhaps more accurately) suggested I had “to work over-wrought.”
  • When I wanted to ask “should I stop at grocery store?”, it tried to ask “should I stop at growth hormones?”
  • When I wanted to say I was stopping “for a cup of coffee,” it tried to imply that I was going for a “cup of codeine.”
  • When I tried to tell my wife I “got stopped by cop,” it tried to say I “got stopped by copulation.” (Admittedly, that would at least tend to slow you down.)
  • When I told her I was going to “get some gas,” it tried to say I was getting “some gag reflex.”
  • When I tried to tell my son I would “be home in 5 minutes,” it tried to say I would “be home in 5 Mini Coopers.”
  • When I tried to ask my wife when my son “will be done with school?”, it wanted to ask when he would “be done with schadenfreude”. That won’t be for quite some time, I fear.
  • When I was about to arrive home from work with a headache, I tried to text my wife to ask “do we have any aspirin?” but instead almost asked “do we have any asperger’s syndrome?”
  • When I left for work later than usual the other morning, I tried to say that “the cats have been fed,” but instead it tried to message that “the cats have been felt.” (They had actually been both fed and felt, though I didn’t really need to mention the latter.)

So far, I’ve been able to catch all these potential errors in the auto-complete function and fix them before I was embarrassed by my lack of typing skills. Because I’ve worked so long in typography, I’ve taught myself to be a pretty good proofreader of my own work, when given the time. I’m afraid, though, that some day I’ll face an urgent situation and the mistakes won’t be able to be fixed. My panicked message that “oh god having heart attack” will instead be translated and transmitted as “oh gouda havarti head cheese.”


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6 Responses to “Adventures in cell phone AutoCompletion”

  1. trishatruly Says:

    You are always funny as sh*t but this one had me laughing so hard I snorted coffee up my nose!

    That last line is really the one that did me in.. Oh God….
    “oh gouda havarti head cheese.”

  2. lifeischange Says:

    OMG, that is too funny!!!

  3. that girl Says:

    I do not advise eating ice cream while attempting to read this post. It may melt before you can stop laughing. Mine did!

  4. InActionMan IAM Says:

    Yes, I always deactivate my own text completion to avoid this kind of non-sequitor, but I have enough typos of my own to ensure incomprehensibility.
    By the way, we’re both using IBM Thinkpads!

  5. Ronak Says:

    too good! couldn’t stop laughing at the first and last one… 🙂

  6. William Rentfrow Says:

    Interesting read. Thanks – from an antique phone enthusiast.

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