A self-aggrandising anecdote from my past: in October 1989 I took a course called a ‘CLAIT‘ — I passed, with distinction *buffs fingers on chest*. On the course, one tutor was waffling about networks. He mentioned ‘ring networks’ and ‘star networks’ and made the comment that they all used wire connections. I stuck my hand up and asked “is it possible to have a network that works by radio?” His answer surprised me: “No,” he said. Although I wasn’t the first to come up with the idea (wikipedia claims that the first use of a network over radio was in 1971), even so if only I’d run with it, I’d be a rich man by now….
I’ve never had to use Wi-Fi before. But now that I have a reason to do so (ie, avoiding telecom charges!) what do I find? The router in my home doesn’t have enough grunt to push through the wall into my bedroom. Another brother (no, not the one who gave me the ‘phone, a different one) suggested that I get in touch with my telecoms provider to see if they can offer a better router…
… we’ll see.
As visitors to ‘wibble’ from way back may be aware (yes, I’m looking at you, Paul Handover, Eric Alagan, Sue Dreamwalker!) several years ago I taught myself to touch-type using the Dvorak keyboard layout (in preference to the obsolescent Qwerty). One of my objections to using a smartphone was that, from what I’d seen at least, all text input had to be accomplished using a Qwerty layout.
So here I am with one of these ‘phone thingies, and one of my first thoughts has been: can I configure it to use Dvorak instead? I explored: Settings> General management> Language and input> On-screen keyboard> Manage keyboards: rats. The only options there were ‘Samsung Keyboard’ and ‘Google voice typing’. My brother (another one: I have three of them thingies) just scoffed and told me to search for ‘Dvorak layout’ using the Play Store. So, I did, and found an ‘English Dvorak layout’ app (I wanted an English one in particular because the ‘£’ sign isn’t included by default in the standard Dvorak layout — which was designed by an American; ‘go figure’ as they say). I downloaded it. Yes, you can hear a ‘but’ coming… when I hit ‘enable’, I got a nice friendly message saying:
English Dvorak keyboard NEVER collects your personal sensitive data such as cradit (sic) card number, passwords etc
This caused me to pause… what about data that it considered to be ‘non-sensitive’, I wondered. Nevertheless, I hit ‘OK’, thinking I could always change my mind. Next, I was presented with the ‘Available virtual keyboard’ setting screen. Now, this had ‘English Dvorak Keyboard’ listed, as well. I went to select it, but then I got another nice friendly message:
This input method may be able to collect all the text that you type, including personal data like passwords and credit card numbers. Use this input method? [Cancel] [OK]
Call me paranoid, but I hit ‘Cancel’.
I have to admit, however, that although I’ve only been using this ‘phone for a short time, I’m finding using the Qwerty layout on it less troublesome than I thought it would be. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised: I typed (two-fingered, hunt-and-peck) on a Qwerty layout for about twenty years before converting to Dvorak, and, though I stumble now and then, I haven’t completely forgotten the layout. While I will always use, and advocate, Dvorak for touch-typing on a full-size keyboard, text input on a smartphone is very different. And the predictive text, now that I’m getting used to it, helps a lot. Incidentally, I’m wondering if the predictive text has a standard lexicon or whether it learns my own… I think I’ll use ‘phlyarology’ as a test, and see if it remembers it (if it’s as ‘smart’ as the meme claims, it ought to!).