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#42545 - 11/04/16 04:51 PM Mobile devices and jargon
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
I comprehend none of the jargon associated with cell phones, including smartphones. (I cannot follow any of the discussion regarding iPhones and such in other parts of the FTM forums, other than to figure out people are frustrated by various aspects of their use.)

I can understand and manipulate Schrödinger's equation and many other aspects of quantum mechanics, but I sure don't have a clue about cell phone terminology or smartphone apps, or why one even gives a rat's patoot about the latter — and yet one has to in order to be able to use one.

I don't know what service provider plans are/mean or how charges might be calculated. I can figure out what "voice" means (but could be wrong). What is "data"? And how would one know how much one might need? What is "roaming". What are all the other bits and pieces which providers seem to nickel and dime and dollar users to death with?

The billing for my simple landline is pretty straightforward — a charge for a residential telephone line and a charge for 911 service, plus taxes, and that includes accessing my dialup Internet service which costs me virtually nada. That said, I recall seeing multipage AT&T phone bills in the States which were virtually incomprehensible for a landline.

As far as I can tell, there is no "Cell Phones for Dummies" or "Smartphones for Dummies" in existence. But that's the sort of thing I'd need to understand the intricacies of the subject, especially the costing. And not to forget how to reliably protect one's privacy from illicit and 'police' intrusion.

I've approached the little drones which run cell phone kiosks in shopping malls to try to get a sense of what's going on, but they seem incapable of explaining anything in a coherent or comprehensible fashion.

Where do I go from here?

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#42546 - 11/04/16 06:29 PM Re: Mobile devices and jargon [Re: grelber]
joemikeb Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Try your nearest Apple Store. The employees are salaried, not on commission, and trained to communicate with customers who are far less technically sophisticated then you. You at least know what the questions are. You can find a list if all the Apple Stores in Canada Here, I have reason to believe there may be one within 60 to 100km of you.
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#42548 - 11/04/16 07:34 PM Re: Mobile devices and jargon [Re: grelber]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
Huh, interesting. There might be a call for a cell phone glossary somewhere on the Web.

So basically, a cell phone is a "cellular phone." The name "cellular" comes from the way they work. A portable phone is basically a radio transmitter and receiver. It communicates with radio towers that are connected to the phone network. Each radio tower has a range of anywhere from a quarter mile to a couple of miles. The area served by one radio tower is called a "cell."

The magic that made cell phones possible was in figuring out how to get the towers to automatically hand off a signal from one cell to another as the phone moves around. This is harder than it seems, because if you're talking on the phone when you move from one tower to another tower, the first tower has to tell the second tower who you're talking to, and the second tower has to establish a connection with the person you're talking to using its own telephone line seamlessly and without dropping the call. There's a lot of very complex behind-the-scenes magic to make this work.

The difference between a cell phone and a smartphone is that a cell phone is just a phone. It makes and receives phone calls; that's it. A smartphone is basically a computer. (In fact, there's no "basically" about it; it is a computer, roughly the equivalent in terms of power to a 2006-era iMac.)

A smartphone has three radios: a cell phone radio that makes voice calls; a digital radio that offers an always-on, permanent connection to the Internet through the telephone company's network; and an ordinary WiFi module that connects to WiFi the same way a computer does. Your cell phone company charges you separately for the voice connection and the Internet connection, just like your home has separate billing for an old-fashioned land line and cable Internet.

"Roaming" is what happens when you leave an area where the phone company you buy service from has towers. For instance, T-Mobile builds cell phone radio towers, for the most part, only in cities. They don't have a lot of radio towers in the countryside. AT&T and Verizon both have a lot more radio towers outside cities, so when you leave a major metropolitan area and you're a T-Mobile customer, your phone may start talking to radio towers owned by someone else, like AT&T. Similarly, if you travel from the US to Canada, you'll be on a different network.

Many, but not all, networks charge you more for using someone else's radio towers. Those are "roaming charges." For voice calls, they're quite low. For Internet connections, they can be very, very expensive.

Apps are programs, exactly like programs you run on a home computer. Often, they're the same (I use Pages for word processing on my computer and I also have Pages on my phone, which means I can do word processing on my phone.) Apple provides a service that allows you to work on your files on your home computer and also on your iPhone or iPad, and switch between them. I can edit a word processing file on my computer, hit Save, take out my iPhone, run Pages, and presto! There's the word processor file I just saved from my desktop.

They also run apps like Web browsers (I run Safari on my iPhone, and it works basically the same way as Safari on my Mac.)
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#42549 - 11/05/16 01:31 AM Re: Mobile devices and jargon [Re: tacit]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
Thanks for the basic bits, some of which I had fair to middling understanding of.

What's "airplane mode" that seems to pop up in discussions as a protective measure?

How does one prevent excessive charges when globetrotting?

Why do providers not provide a single package price for all use? I suspect the answer is obvious — namely whatever the traffic will bear.

Costing of services is clearly my biggest concern, and even the providers cannot explain it in simple and justifiable terms. And there seems to be no way to protect oneself from exorbitant costs no matter what one does.

I observe everyone with smartphones doing things (which must involve the Internet and concomitantly incur major costs) such as videophoning,'couponing', diddling around in time-wasting fashion, etc. I find it hard to comprehend what the 'charm' in any of this might be. And I find it aggravating that they have to invade my personal space to do it.

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#42551 - 11/05/16 01:57 AM Re: Mobile devices and jargon [Re: joemikeb]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
Originally Posted By: joemikeb
You can find a list [of] all the Apple Stores in Canada Here, I have reason to believe there may be one within 60 to 100 km of you.

Thanks, but not even close.

The 3 closest locations are from 525 km ≈ 325 miles (ca 5.5 hours) to 780 km ≈ 485 miles (ca 8.5 hours) distant from me. There's little likelihood that I'll be heading for those places in the foreseeable future. And the gas costs alone for the round trip would be in the $100 to $150 range.

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#42555 - 11/05/16 07:29 AM Re: Mobile devices and jargon [Re: grelber]
Ira L Offline


Registered: 08/13/09
Loc: California
Tacit's response above was indeed a concise summary of the basics. To address some of your subsequent questions:

**What's "airplane mode" that seems to pop up in discussions as a protective measure?

Airplane mode, with just one tap, is way to set the phone so that it does not send or receive via wi-fi, Bluetooth or a cellular network. So named because when flying it seems that the take-off and landing environments do not want any extraneous broadcasts to interfere with communications involving the plane. Once above 10,000 feet the phones can be returned to their normal state.

**How does one prevent excessive charges when globetrotting?

Ahh, would that this had a simple answer. Well, maybe it does—turn the phone off!
In practice one must decide from where their charges arise. For most people it is when they are using the phone company's cellular network (beyond some plan allocation of data), as opposed to a wi-fi network. As Tacit said above, roaming is the additional killer. So when globetrotting, turn off cellular and only use wi-fi. This could limit your ability to use the phone as a phone, although there are "telephone talking apps" that work on wi-fi (e.g., Skype, TruePhone, Facetime).

Additionally one could purchase an international phone plan from your own provider, or purchase a SIM card (the removable goodie in the phone that, among other things, helps to identify the provider and network) in the country of travel.

**Why do providers not provide a single package price for all use? I suspect the answer is obvious — namely whatever the traffic will bear.

This may happen eventually. We have seen land lines go from long distance charges to free nationwide calling. The same has happened with cell phone services. Most have basic packages that also offer unlimited text messages. The primary cost to the consumer is data outside of calls and texts. Perhaps this is because providers want to control or profit from the amount of traffic. If the day comes that the network is blazingly fast for everyone, then perhaps the cost structures will once again change.
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#42556 - 11/05/16 08:09 AM Re: Mobile devices and jargon [Re: grelber]
joemikeb Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: grelber
Costing of services is clearly my biggest concern, and even the providers cannot explain it in simple and justifiable terms. And there seems to be no way to protect oneself from exorbitant costs no matter what one does.

I observe everyone with smartphones doing things (which must involve the Internet and concomitantly incur major costs) such as videophoning,'couponing', diddling around in time-wasting fashion, etc. I find it hard to comprehend what the 'charm' in any of this might be. And I find it aggravating that they have to invade my personal space to do it.
There are multiple components of phone plans including:
  • Talk time
  • number of text messages
  • MegaBytes of data transfer where data is anything other than Talk or Text messages
The range in plans runs the gamut from prepaid phone plans that include a given number of talk minutes and nothing else to high end plans with unlimited talk, text, and data. There is often a catch in the unlimited data plans that after a given number of MegaBytes of data at high speeds (4G LTE service) you are cut back to virtually dialup data speeds until the end of the billing period or you pay typically $15 more for another increment of high speed service. If you like to stream movies, video, or even music there are plans that do not count that against your data limit if it is from certain content providers (but I don't see that as being a big thing for you 😃)

FWWI I will share my personal experience and that may provide some guidance for you. I started with a plan that included a given number of minutes, a set number of texts, and unlimited data. It was pricey but with rollover phone minutes (i.e. minutes not used in any given month could accumulate into future months) it was pretty much limitless so I kept it. Then I found I wanted/needed to create a WiFi hotspot to use with my iPad (an iPad without built in phone data capabilities saves $100 to $200 on the purchase price and $15 a month or so for the often unused data connection) but my provider would not permit that with my unlimited data plan.

For the first time I took a long serious look at how I used my iPhone (and iPad for that matter) and realized the great bulk of all my data downloads or uploads were via WiFi (at home, in hotels, campgrounds, Starbucks®, etc. and did not count against my data plan. I confirmed this by checking my phone billing statements. So I actually needed far less data than I had originally anticipated needing. Likewise even on a family plan shared with my wife who uses her iPhone for calls much more than I do and talks far longer than I do, we seldom got anywhere close to the maximum number of talk minutes on our plan. What had changed is we have found that for various reasons we text far more than we ever thought we would and that a short text could easily replace a long telephone call.

My current plan offers unlimited talk and text (we don't need or use that much of either, but that has become the "standard" bottom line offering from our carrier), 3GB of high speed data with rollover data — and unlimited low speed data after that, and we can create a hotspot to share our phone data connection with our iPads. It is a LOT cheaper than the original plan and when I look at our usage data we seldom, if ever, get close to the limits.

To be truthful, I don't think you can really imagine how or when you would use a smartphone until you have one and have used it for a while. I also think how you use it will evolve and change over time. I know more and more people who no longer have or want a landline phone. (NOTE: with smartphones there is no distinction between local and long distance calling the minutes cost the same)

Given you are relatively remote your first consideration in choosing a carrier should be which carrier has the best coverage in your area and in other areas you often visit. The individual carriers all have coverage maps and some have interactive coverage maps that get very specific. For example there are some hills and a steep valley within a half mile of my house. Down in that valley there is virtually no coverage from any carrier. We are at the peak of the high ground, but all the cell towers are located in nearby lower lying areas so we are lucky to get 1 bar signal strength and our carrier finally installed a microcell attached to our internet connection.
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#42557 - 11/05/16 08:39 AM Re: Mobile devices and jargon [Re: joemikeb]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
I certainly appreciate your attempting to elucidate the ins and outs of smartphone service. Unfortunately, while I understand the English words strung together, I really don't comprehend the content in any way that I could act on. (When I said I needed "Smartphones for Dummies", I really meant it.)

For example, "MegaBytes of data transfer where data is anything other than Talk or Text messages": How would one have a clue how to determine in advance (or ever) the first 4 words and thus to calculate the cost of same?

Texting, to my mind, is a complete and utter waste. I find it particularly odious and rude when someone with whom I'm carrying on an interaction does it in media res. It takes most of my self-control not to just bat it out of his/her hands.

My telephone usage is primarily for purposes of dialup Internet access (such as right now), with perhaps a couple of outgoing calls per day.

WiFi scares the crap out of me because of privacy and security concerns — and none of previous discussion in these forums has allayed any of my fears in that regard. (If I were to lose dialup Internet access, I'd likely go 'dark', with only voice calling and faxing.)

So, it's back to square 1 ....

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#42563 - 11/05/16 03:20 PM Re: Mobile devices and jargon [Re: grelber]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
Originally Posted By: grelber
Thanks for the basic bits, some of which I had fair to middling understanding of.

What's "airplane mode" that seems to pop up in discussions as a protective measure?


"Airplane mode" is a single switch that disables all the radios in the phone. You're not supposed to have radio transmitters on a plane when it's landing or taking off. With a regular cell phone, you just turn off the phone, but a smartphone is also a computer, and people use it as a computer (for example, I have a Kindle application on my phone and I read books while I'm flying).

Airplane mode disables all the radios but leaves the rest of the phone operating, so you can still have it switched on when you're on a plane. Airplane mode also saves battery life, since the radios are among the most power-hungry components in the phone.

Originally Posted By: grelber
How does one prevent excessive charges when globetrotting?


When Eve and I were on our book tour in Europe, we got a SIM card for the trip.

A SIM card is a tiny, fingernail-sized card that slips into a cell phone and identifies the cell phone to the telephone company. It contains a serial number (called an "IMSI," or "international mobile subscriber identity"). This serial number is how the telephone company identifies a phone.

The serial numbers are assigned to different phone companies. So when you change the SIM card, you basically change who the phone "belongs" to. If I take the Verizon card out of my phone and replace it with a Wind Mobile card, which I do when I'm in Canada, as far as the universe is concerned my phone is no longer a Verizon phone, it's a Wind Mobile phone.

You pay for SIM cards. There are many voice/data packages aimed at global travelers. You buy the SIM card, usually for $10 to $20, and then when you use that SIM card you pay for the minutes of talk and the data you use. In Europe, we paid something like 2 cents a minute for calls and $20 per gigabyte of wireless data, using a SIM card we bought for $20.

The only disadvantage of doing this is when you change SIM cards, your phone number changes, too. I have two phone numbers, one attached to my US SIM card and one attached to my Canadian SIM card.

Originally Posted By: grelber
Why do providers not provide a single package price for all use? I suspect the answer is obvious — namely whatever the traffic will bear.


That's a big part of it. US residents pay far, far more for cell phone service than anyone else in the world except Brazilians and Bulgarians.

But another part of it is all the various complex agreements for roaming. For instance, say I'm on T-Mobile and I go camping in rural Oregon, something I do often. T-Mobile has no radio towers in rural Oregon, they're all AT&T. If I'm talking to someone as I leave town, my phone switches from T-Mobile to AT&T, which means the physical telephone connection has to stop going over T-Mobile's phone lines and switch to AT&T's, all without dropping the call. That means T-Mobile has to have access to AT&T's phone network, and vice versa.

There are thousands of very complex contracts and agreements between T-Mobile and AT&T and Verizon and all the other phone networks, and they all charge each other money for accessing those networks. This is an example of a situation where having a lot of competing companies actually makes service less efficient and more expensive, rather than the other way around. (Shh! Don't tell the Libertarians!)

European countries are small compared to the US, and have fewer companies, meaning there's less redundancy and fewer separate but overlapping phone networks, and therefore lower cost.

Originally Posted By: grelber
Costing of services is clearly my biggest concern, and even the providers cannot explain it in simple and justifiable terms. And there seems to be no way to protect oneself from exorbitant costs no matter what one does.

I observe everyone with smartphones doing things (which must involve the Internet and concomitantly incur major costs) such as videophoning,'couponing', diddling around in time-wasting fashion, etc. I find it hard to comprehend what the 'charm' in any of this might be. And I find it aggravating that they have to invade my personal space to do it.


You don't get charged if you're using a WiFi connection instead of the phone company's Internet connection. So for example, if I'm on my phone at home, or at a restaurant with WiFi, or at a coffee shop, I'm using WiFi and not the phone company Internet, so I'm not paying for it. In most cities WiFi hotspots are everywhere. As I'm walking in downtown Vancouver looking at my phone, my phone might hop onto McDonald's WiFi as I walk past, then switch to a Starbucks WiFi hotspot, then switch to my phone company's Internet access, then switch to another Starbucks WiFi hotspot.

You can get cheap smartphone plans. I use a cheap plan when I'm in the US. It gives me a gigabyte of data and a hundred hours of talk time for $30 a month. If I go over that, it sends me a text message and I can choose not to use any more data, thus avoiding extra charges.

But my phone is paid for; I've had it for several years. Most people who buy a smart phone don't want to pay $600 for the phone up front, so they get a plan from the phone company that spreads payments over 2 years, meaning they're only paying $25 a month for that $600 phone. The phone companies are willing to offer what amounts to an interest-free 2-year loan for a $600 phone because the catch is you have to sign up for their premium plans instead of their low-cost plans. Once the phone is paid for, or if you buy the phone up front, or if you get a second-hand phone from someone who has just upgraded, you can get a low-cost plan.

If you've never used a smartphone before, it can be hard to understand how life-changing it is. You have a full-fledged computer with an always-on Internet connection everywhere you go. I use mine for directions (I have a terrible sense of direction, but I can go anywhere in the world except Antarctica and I will always have a detailed map with GPS coordinates showing me where I am and planning routes to any address by car, public transit, or walking).

I use mine for reading books, for running my business (email clients and Web browsers are built into every smart phone), for staying in touch with family, for word processing, for note-taking (there have literally been times I've been out hiking in the middle of the woods and gotten an idea for something I want to write about in one of my books, and I can take notes in the phone), even for a flashlight (smartphones have a flashlight built in).

A smart phone replaces a compass, a GPS navigator, a book reader, notebooks and paper, a flashlight, a television, a computer, an alarm clock, an egg timer, a camera (funny how UFO and Loch Ness Monster sightings went way down after half the world started carrying high-resolution cameras everywhere!), a video camcorder (a low-end iPhone is superior to the best VHS camera ever made), a music player, a day planner, a calendar, a contact book, and a newspaper.
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#42565 - 11/05/16 04:08 PM Re: Mobile devices and jargon [Re: tacit]
joemikeb Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Well said Tacit. My experience and the experience of most of my friends, many of whom are far older than I parallels yours. I still contend iOS devices are almost impossible to comprehend until you have one and have used it for a while. It quickly becomes about as useful as your right arm.
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#42568 - 11/06/16 12:07 AM Re: Mobile devices and jargon [Re: joemikeb]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
Originally Posted By: joemikeb
Well said Tacit. My experience and the experience of most of my friends, many of whom are far older than I parallels yours. I still contend iOS devices are almost impossible to comprehend until you have one and have used it for a while. It quickly becomes about as useful as your right arm.

I agree. And thanks again, both you guys.

From all that's been said so far, I am precious little closer to comprehending details of costing or how my privacy/security could be maintained. And I guess I'm just not willing to put myself out and tolerate the inevitable frustration of (potentially costly) trial-and-error learning over a long period of time, especially when I don't need or want any of the supposed advantages of mobile communication. Given vision issues which require major magnification on my iMac, futzing with a tiny-screened mobile device would likely make me suicidal. Add to that that at best I've got a couple decades left on the right side of the grass, with better things to do than stroke out from Dilbertian exasperation.

I want a device to serve me, not vice versa. Perhaps the better choice would be to hire a knowledgeable factotum.

I'm pretty much resigned to sticking with what I know and need. If I need GPS for travels, I'll get me a Garman nüvi.

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#42570 - 11/06/16 01:24 AM Re: Mobile devices and jargon [Re: joemikeb]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: joemikeb
Well said Tacit. My experience and the experience of most of my friends, many of whom are far older than I parallels yours. I still contend iOS devices are almost impossible to comprehend until you have one and have used it for a while. It quickly becomes about as useful as your right arm.

Lefty and luvin' it! grin

Thanks for the informative and educational cell/smart phone primer. (This thread could use a more searchable title and might well be made "sticky".)

I won't even begin to even try to argue against smart phones, because you and tacit have argued so convincingly for them in so many aspects of so many different types of people's lives.

But I will say that I'm totally pleased that you've neither convinced me that I need one nor even enticed, let alone induced, me to want to add one to my load.

The possibility, more likely likelihood, that the full-time 100% connectivity and data processing and other capabilities (and their accompanying diversions from self) about which you guys are so enthusiastic will ultimately be the way of the world both horrifies and saddens me. 😱🔫

(I read that a gun emoji that was added for the Olympics was removed because of objections to its other symbolism, so why is this one still included in the set?)
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#42574 - 11/06/16 08:32 AM Re: Mobile devices and jargon [Re: artie505]
ryck Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: artie505
Thanks for the informative and educational cell/smart phone primer.

Hear, hear.

And I agree with: "This thread could use a more searchable title and might well be made "sticky"."
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#42620 - 11/08/16 06:47 AM Re: Mobile devices and jargon [Re: tacit]
Virtual1 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
Originally Posted By: tacit
A smartphone has three radios:

Don't forget about bluetooth wink
(and maybe even non contact payment?)
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#42630 - 11/08/16 08:27 AM Re: Mobile devices and jargon [Re: ryck]
joemikeb Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: ryck
Originally Posted By: artie505
Thanks for the informative and educational cell/smart phone primer.

Hear, hear.

And I agree with: "This thread could use a more searchable title and might well be made "sticky"."
The problem with "sticky" threads is the technology continues to evolve very rapidly and what are basic concepts today may seem anywhere from amusingly antiquated to ancient history within several months. In other words it takes a lot of effort to keep a subject like this up to date. A Wiki would probably be a more appropriate tool for something like that rather than a UBB thread.

(soto voce: 💡this is a perfect opportunity to use the newly implemented "dopeslap" emoji)
🤦‍♂️I should have thought of this earlier. There is an extensive Smartphone article on Wikipedia which in turn references several Wikipedia articles on a large number of Smartphone related topics. Wikipedia lacks the lively, and personalized, give and take discussion found here, and I don't know that it would satisfy grelber's questions, but from a factual standpoint it is far more complete.
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#42641 - 11/08/16 09:16 AM Re: Mobile devices and jargon [Re: joemikeb]
ryck Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: joemikeb
Wikipedia lacks the lively, and personalized, give and take discussion found here….

….which is one of the great strengths of FineTunedMac. At times it can be like a classroom where you get to raise your hand, ask for clarification, and the teacher(s) respond.

And, of course, Wikipedia doesn't have The Lounge.


Edited by ryck (11/08/16 09:16 AM)
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#42642 - 11/08/16 09:21 AM Re: Mobile devices and jargon [Re: ryck]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: ryck
Originally Posted By: joemikeb
Wikipedia lacks the lively, and personalized, give and take discussion found here….

….which is one of the great strengths of FineTunedMac. At times it can be like a classroom where you get to raise your hand, ask for clarification, and the teacher(s) respond...

by giving you grief for having hijacked the thread. tongue
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#42648 - 11/08/16 11:00 AM Re: Mobile devices and jargon [Re: tacit]
ryck Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: tacit
A smart phone replaces a compass, a GPS navigator, a book reader, notebooks and paper, a flashlight, a television, a computer, an alarm clock, an egg timer, a camera (funny how UFO and Loch Ness Monster sightings went way down after half the world started carrying high-resolution cameras everywhere!), a video camcorder (a low-end iPhone is superior to the best VHS camera ever made), a music player, a day planner, a calendar, a contact book, and a newspaper.

Maybe, like the horseless carriage that became an automobile, there should be a new name…something other than "phone".
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ryck

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#42666 - 11/08/16 04:23 PM Re: Mobile devices and jargon [Re: ryck]
joemikeb Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: ryck
Maybe, like the horseless carriage that became an automobile, there should be a new name…something other than "phone".

Mr. Scott of StarTrek fame may have had the right idea, he just said, "Computer".
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#42670 - 11/09/16 03:29 AM Re: Mobile devices and jargon [Re: joemikeb]
Virtual1 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
Originally Posted By: joemikeb
Mr. Scott of StarTrek fame may have had the right idea, he just said, "Computer".

Yes but you gotta love how he starts out with such a friendly hello and smile on his face...
(@20 sec) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9kTVZiJ3Uc
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#42679 - 11/09/16 08:14 AM Re: Mobile devices and jargon [Re: Virtual1]
joemikeb Offline
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Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
In Sierra, the default "keyword phrase word for dictation commands is "computer".

Experience has taught me a lot about choosing dictation command keyword phrases...
  • do NOT choose the "Listen Without Requiring Keyword Phrase" option
  • It is tempting to use Siri as the keyword phrase but Siri is a specific functionality and that can cause confusion
  • do not choose a keyword phrase that is apt to come up in common conversation.
  • the best keyword phrase is short, very distinct, memorable and very obscure
  • turn off dictation commands if you are watching a moving or there is a lot of background conversation.
  • if you have dictation commands enabled and apps or windows start opening or closing mysteriously, the cursor starts wandering all over the screen, or mysterious text snippets start appearing in the document you are working on — turn off dictation commands.
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#42704 - 11/10/16 05:18 AM Re: Mobile devices and jargon [Re: joemikeb]
Virtual1 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
Originally Posted By: joemikeb
Experience has taught me a lot about choosing dictation command keyword phrases...
]do NOT choose the "Listen Without Requiring Keyword Phrase" option

I pondered that awhile ago and then it hit me why they have such interesting names for those services. "Siri".... "Cortana"... those names are not an accident or something that "just sounds good". They were carefully selected (engineered?) to be good "start voice recognition" keywords.

"okay google".... not sure that's such a good idea, but if they can make it work? *shrug* At least you're not likely to say that specific pair (or anything that sounds much like it) at any other time.

Also fun to note...
siri - 2 syllables
cortana - 3 syllables
ok google - 4 syllables

I see a pattern. More syllables should make for a more distinct/reliable keyword.

(what uses "siri"? "serious"... "serial"... I can't think of any other common word or combination of words that use that pair of syllables together. "cortana" - ok you got me that one should be unique and still has a pleasant sound to it / rolls off the tongue. "ok google" - well that's a combination of common words, but in an order that shouldn't happen other than when you intend to invoke VR)
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#42718 - 11/10/16 09:48 AM Re: Mobile devices and jargon [Re: Virtual1]
joemikeb Offline
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Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
With listen without keyword phrase activated, it is amazing how often casual conversation in the room will trigger an action on the computer. Of course this always happens at the worst possible moment, and can drive you crazy until you figure out what's going on.

As to the number of syllables in the keyword phrase, my preference is to keep it short and distinct. So you got me to thinking about what makes a good keyword phrase for dictation commands. A quick search in Google turned up the following recommendation from Apple.
Originally Posted By: Apple Help
...For best results, use a word or phrase that has three syllables or two to five words.
I found lots of articles on how to turn dictation commands on, but virtually nothing on choosing good keyword phrases. I have a friend on the faculty at a nearby university in the field of communication and I think I'll pose this question to her and see what she comes up with.
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#42722 - 11/10/16 12:02 PM Re: Mobile devices and jargon [Re: joemikeb]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
It seems like a quick nonsense string would be best... T'was brillig?
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#42723 - 11/10/16 03:20 PM Re: Mobile devices and jargon [Re: artie505]
joemikeb Offline
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Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Sounds like a good idea Artie but when I tried twas brillig the recognition comes back "was really good". That maybe my Texas drawl or that could be a phrase has to be said by somebody with a true English accent.

Right now I am trying "work with me" and the recognition is accurate every time (an important factor) and since I don't have to keep repeating the phrase once dictation mode is activated it isn't too long or cumbersome. Now if I can just remember it. 😀
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