Friday, October 26, 2012

The Perils of Autocomplete

So let's consider the autocomplete function that various word processors, such as crummy old Microsoft Office and shoddy cell phones have. (More specifically, the terrible, terrible phone that sits in front of me at this moment, staring balefully and mockingly at me.)

Recently I decided to monkey around with the feature. It's hardly as evil as I initially took it to be (I once only entered single letters, because despite loving technology I'm a Luddite when it comes to phones, and I don't get along with them), but neither is it a wonder.

Let's take the word "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." Now, obviously that's not a real word, and Firefox's spellcheck is hating on me for typing it. (It's also hating on me for typing "spellcheck" and "autocomplete." Ha ha, foolish spellcheck, I'll type those words as often as I want.)

The sequence of numbers one must enter into a phone to achieve this massive word is 787372254372445478439742543624687.

What does the autocomplete on my cell phone give me?

It gives me superbbjiesbiitieyshalienago.

Now the first thing you might notice is that this word does not have the same number of characters as supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. This is because the autocomplete gobbles up characters when it doesn't like them being where they are. If I enter an actual word, sometimes the autocomplete will completely lock down the word, only giving me the option of hitting backspace. Other times, the autocomplete will lock down specific letters and let others be used, even if they make no sense.

I'm amazed that there's as much sensical stuff in there as there is-"superb," "alien," and "ago." Often when I perform this exercise, I just get a set of repeating letters as the autocomplete defies me by just repeating whatever the most commonly used letter from a button is.

-Signing off.

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