Correcting Auto Correct

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I typically use swype writing to create messages on my smarphone.  Swype writing [link here] allows me to enter words by moving my finger continuously across the keyboard over the appropriate letters.  For example, to type Monday, I start with my finger on the “M”, slide up to the “o”, down to the “n”, over to the “d” and “a” before finishing on “y”.  The word is created without lifting up my finger to input each letter individually.

Often the smartphone figures out what the word is and suggests a term before I’ve finished “typing” it based on predictive text.  After completing each word, the predictive text feature also suggests words to follow based on my usage patterns.  For example, if I type “What”, I am automatically offered options for the next word such as “you, time, is, are, about, time are”.  Sometimes I can complete the message by selecting the offered options.  Most of the time this works well.

Sometimes, however, the smartphone tries to be too helpful.  I turned off the auto-replace feature on my smartphone because it kept inserting email addresses into my messages based on a few letters, among some other bizarre things happening.  It was so annoying!  At times, the prediction and auto-replace are so wrong, and not based on my language patterns, I can’t help but think some developer had a good laugh while doing the programming.  Here are some examples.

“And”, a common and frequently used word, was almost always auto-replaced as “abs”.  After turning off auto-replaced, I’m now offered “abdominals” as an option when I insert “and”.  I’m not a fitness trainer.  It’s rare for me to use “abs” or “abdominals” in a sentence.  When would these words ever be more likely, or common, than “and”?

About 85% of the time “also” was automatically replaced with “Akzo”.  Huh?  What is Akzo?  Also puzzling is why “also”, another common term, would be replaced with an obscure proper noun.  It just doesn’t make sense.

Another strange correction is “with” frequently turning into “wuthering”.  I was a literature major in university and I’m 100% sure that I’ve never used this word in a sentence, unless I was referring to the book, Wuthering Heights.

I understand some training and customization is necessary, but some options are so off that I wonder how they even got programmed in.  It’s made proofreading, even for trivial messages, essential.

 

In the Mayor’s Chambers

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“Honey, what should we print for dinner?”

Snapper opened the cupboard and perused the options while waiting for a reply.  A row of jars filled with muted colored powders and pellets lined the shelves.  He picked up a jar containing a moss colored, chalky substance simply labeled “greens“.

Snapper’s brain hurt from analyzing emoji all day.  Last week Mayor Peebles had been charged with having sexual relations with several of the young summer interns.  Snapper had the unenviable task of sifting through thousands of text messages, emails, and social media conversations between the Mayor and his support staff.  He felt a small surge of pride thinking about how clever he felt after discovering the hidden meaning in messages containing a panda head, a rainbow, and an eggplant.  Totally scandalous!

Having graduated with a psychology degree, Snapper never imagined that he would make money as an interpretive emoji specialist.  While getting his degree he had nearly failed a course in Verbal Communication Skills.  Only in the last two weeks of the term had he finally learned to ask his questions out loud.  Normally he submitted his questions electronically during lecture where they appeared on the class feed projected near the professor.

Analyzing emoji was perfect for Snapper, as that had been his primary mode of communication for over two decades.  Real words were reserved for school work, or maybe if something extreme happened.  Otherwise Snapper felt emoji was sufficient to express what he was experiencing 90% of the time.

Printed and spoken words just got in the way, as far as Snapper was concerned, especially when he had to use punctuation.  Even now, he was still waiting for a reply.  He should’ve just sent a message to his partner lounging in the next room.

His forearm started to tingle.  He looked at the emoji projected onto his SmartScreen:

Chicken LegFriesGreensWeary Face

 

 

 

 

Snapper selected an array of jars: solids, chix, greens, podado, and fats.  He carefully poured solids into three of the printer’s chambers before topping each one off with the appropriate powder.  He set the chix chamber to MEAT TEXTURE and the shape to DRUMSTICK. The weary face emoji could only mean one thing, a bad day at the office.  The kind of problem a supplemental fat infusion could solve.  He added two handfuls of fats pellets into the auxiliary compartment.

He pressed start and poured himself a cocktail while dinner printed.

Bathroom Hoarder

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My bathroom has a unit built over the toilet with 1 open shelf and a cupboard with doors.  After accidentally knocking a few things into the toilet, I decided I needed a better storage solution.  I also felt nervous when guests came over that they might accidentally bump something off the shelf into you-know-where…It was easy to do.

I needed something that was closed or contained, like a drawer or a box, to store my items.  Something that could be accessed and cleaned easily.  I bought a few acrylic boxes from Muji to start.  I liked them so much I bought 5 more.

Once everything was all neat and organized in their respective boxes, I immediately gained some benefits.  I also made some rather interesting insights about myself.

Daily use items are in the box on the left for quick access. Drawers on the right contain lip products, hair products, items for nail care, and dental care.

Daily use items are in the box on the left for quick access. Drawers on the right contain lip products, hair products, items for nail care, and dental care.

Turns out, I was a bathroom hoarder!  With my former “organization” method, I could never really see what I had.  I didn’t realize that I kept buying the same products because I thought I was running out only to discover I actually had multiple quantities of that particular item. Bathroom stuff gets expensive!

One of the worst parts was that some items were wasted because I didn’t use them before the expiration date, either because I didn’t see the item or had already bought a replacement.

Overall, I gained a number of benefits from the new system.

  1. Inventory was easy.  I quickly noticed a few things missing that I always like to have around, like band-aids and ibuprofen. Now that each item has a specific box, I can assess what needs to be replaced or replenished.
  2. Cleaning up is quick and easy because I know exactly where to put things.
  3. It’s fast to locate things.  This is definitely a perk when dealing with injuries or getting ready. I want my time focused on getting ready, not hunting around for things.
  4. No more products tumbling into the toilet or onto the floor.
  5. It’s space efficient.
  6. I made people happy when I passed along the nice bathroom products that I wasn’t going to use.  I felt good because I knew the products would get used up and enjoyed before expiring.

Key Organizing Tip: Everything needs a home.  Read more about it here.

See and Be Seen

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I remember going to events as a teenager with my friends.  Although we enjoyed each other’s company, we also enjoyed checking out our peers and interacting with them.  Going to an event was as much about seeing the show as it was about socializing.  We didn’t have email, social media, or smartphones to communicate with one another.  We just kind of knew what was going on and who we were going with, or who might be there.

For the last month I have been taking a shortcut through a local college campus when walking downtown.  One path takes me directly through the courtyard.  It’s always full of students this time of the year.  However, instead of watching them interact with each other, I watch them interact with their phones.  Who knows, maybe they’re interacting with each other through their phones by posting about being in the courtyard to everyone else who was already in the courtyard…. yeah, feels confusing for me too.

Has the goal changed from going out to socialize, to instead, posting about being out?  Will the socializing now primarily happen in the digital world?  And what are the rules in this new sort of environment?  Regarding events (and socializing in general), is it more important to see each other in person, or to be seen on social media about what you did, said, or thought?

It seems that most of the real socializing now happens in the digital world.  While this may connect one person with a huge quantity of other people, that doesn’t mean the connections are good quality.  As I’ve written about in other posts, digital socializing (and communication) disguises many of the non-verbal cues we pick up on as part of face-to-face interactions such as body language, tone, facial expressions, and inflections.  Without any of these cues, we’re reduced to using emoji and internet slang (e.g. IRL*, NSFW*) to express complicated things.  Or posting pictures where we always look like we’re having the time of our lives.

And when we post things about our various activities, instead of truly experiencing them IRL, are we posting as ourselves, or as our digital persona?  Is the persona becoming more important than the person?

(*In Real Life, Not Suitable for Work)

Getting Rid of ROT

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Due to the large volume of “stuff” we manage to accumulate electronically, getting rid of ROT is key to managing your information effectively.  ROT is an acronym we use in my profession when referring to information, or documents, that are redundant, outdated, or trivial.  Basically, the stuff that has so little value you probably wouldn’t even notice if it was deleted, except to remark on how much extra space you have.

Let’s break down the ROT so you can get started on Digital Decluttering.  Last week’s posting, Strategic Saving, offered some guidelines and tips on how to determine what to keep.  ROT focuses on what to delete.

Redundant – this refers to copies and duplicates.  It never ceases to amaze me how much duplication we accumulate digitally (or physically).  Sometimes this happens because we might forget where we put something, or what we named it.  This will often result in us saving the same thing again, maybe in a different place or with an altered name.  These duplicates do not need to be kept.  Delete them!

Tip: Technology can be super useful with deduping (i.e. getting rid of the duplicates), especially with digital photos.  Try searching for an app that works with your computer.

Outdated – this refers to information or documents that have expired, meaning their content is no longer timely or relevant.  Some examples of this may include document drafts (once the final is ready), obsolete versions (e.g. resumes), household budgets 2+ years old, anything time specific that has passed (e.g. season brochures, invites, or catalogs), daily news postings, etc.

Tip: Establish some guidelines for yourself about how long information retains its value (e.g. notices, catalogs/magazines, document drafts/versions, etc.).  Go through your backlog routinely (e.g. quarterly, annually) to weed out anything outdated. 

Trivial – this refers to information or documents that has little to no retaining value, but that we may have kept at one time because it seemed important.  Deleting this information should have no impact on your life.  Examples of this include product information (e.g. if you were thinking about, or bought something at one time), directories, reference materials, blank forms, and newsletters (especially if they are also outdated).

Tip: Be mindful about how and where you accumulate trivial items.  Create a temporary area for the trivial information to see if becomes important enough to save somewhere permanently.  If not, delete routinely (e.g. monthly, quarterly, annually).

Strategic Saving

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The Deletist is about focusing on strategic saving and getting rid of the rest.  It can sometimes be challenging to figure out what should be kept and what can be tossed, especially when it comes to documents and information.  The volume of documents and information produced by each of us (e.g. emails, etc.) combined with cheap storage options, competing priorities, and a lack of awareness makes it easy to adopt a “Let’s Just Save Everything, Just In Case” mindset.

Although saving everything is tempting, it will eventually lead to challenges.  Saving everything slows down searches and makes the results less successful because there is more volume to search through to find one thing.  Strategic saving means you’re only saving documents that retain value thereby decreasing the volume and increasing the quality.  It means you are more likely to find what you need, when you need it.  Additionally, saving strategically means you have less volume to manage over time and are more likely to be able to keep track of it.

If your computer got corrupted or your email was hacked, would you know what had been compromised?  Would you know what to restore first?  Chances are, probably not.

People often ask me how to identify which documents and emails should be saved.  The answer is not always straight forward, but with a little practice and education, it becomes easier.  Here are a couple of tips based on my experiences to help you make that determination.

  1.  Pay attention to documents you create and use in your personal life.  Although this won’t be all the documents that need to be kept, it will give you a good starting point.  Focus on these documents first.
  2. Identify and protect your personal vital documents.  “Vital” is a designation that records and information professionals sometimes assign to certain documents without which you could not function.  Examples of this include, but are not limited to, forms of identification (i.e. passport, drivers license, birth certificate, SIN/SSN cards), active agreements/contracts/policies, a will and/or power of attorney, and ownership documents (e.g. car or property).
  3. Decide how long information retains its value for you.  For example, do you need your resumes from 10 years ago?  This will likely change depending on the type of information, but will help you to establish some guidelines.

Before purging, it’s always good to establish criteria or rules to keep you consistent, focused, and moving forward.