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Front Page » March 20, 2007 » Tech Tips » Text Messaging & T9-word
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Text Messaging & T9-word

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Technology has changed the way we communicate probably more than anything else, and cellular phones have played a large part in that role. Highly popular, cell phones have become more versatile than ever, capable of sending and receiving text messages, photos, audio and even short videos.

For many, text messaging is a nice feature that supplements the cell phone. Short text messages are often less intrusive than a phone call, and can be viewed later on when the recipient has time to review the message. For others, it's often more hassle than it is worth - especially when it comes to typing the message with the phone's number pad.

The problem is that there are twenty six letters in the English alphabet (as well as numbers and special characters like $, %, & and @), and far fewer keys on phone's number pad - a mere ten, comprising buttons 0-9. Obviously, one key on the phone must represent more than one letter in the alphabet.

Most phones use the traditional "abc" text entry mode by default, which requires repeated key pressing to access the desired key. For example, to type the letter `R`, you'd have to type the number 7 repeatedly 3 times.

For example, to type the word "Emery" using "abc" mode, follow these directions (pause briefly at the end of each step):

• Press 3 twice

• Press 6

• Press 3 twice

• Press 7 three times

• Press 9 three times

And to type the word "Carbon" using "abc" mode, follow these directions (pause briefly at the end of each step):

• Press 2 three times

• Press 2 once

• Press 7 three times

• Press 2 twice

• Press 6 three times

• Press 6 twice

Typing one or two words is this way may not be such a big deal. But typing a long message this way can become very awkward and tiresome.

T9-Word mode (often referred to as simply "word" mode on some phones) makes the majority of the typing far easier and faster. T9-Word is a word completion feature that tries to intelligently "predict" what word you are typing. Predictions are made with every key press.

For example, to type "Carbon", follow these directions (please note that these instructions are based upon a LG VX8300 and results may vary from phone to phone):

• Press 2. The letter "A" appears.

• Press 2 again. Now the "A" changes to "Cc."

• Press 7. "Cc" changes to "Car."

• Press 2 again. "Car" changes to "Capa."

• Press 6. "Capa" changes to "Carbo."

• Press 6 again. "Carbo" changes to "Carbon."

To type "Emery" you'd press these keys (no pause between key presses is necessary): 3,6,3,7,9.

Often times, the numbers that you've typed may equate to many word combinations. For example, if you typed 5, 6, 2 and then 3, did you mean to type "load", "loaf", or "lobe?" If you pressed 9, 2, then 7, did you mean to type "war", "was", or "zap"? In either case, press the zero key, which will allow you to shuffle through the list of word combinations until you come to the right one. Once the right word is displayed, simply continue typing the rest of the message. For example, suppose you were going to type the word "food":

• Type 3,6,6,3. The likely word displayed is "done." Don't insert a space or other non-word character (period, underscore, etc) after the word.

• Press 0. The word "done" changes to "food."

T9-Word is great for common words and general language. Where T9-Word falls short is in proper pronouns, particularly names and places. In these cases, changing back to the "abc" text entry mode is probably necessary.

Support and implementation for T9-Word may vary from phone to phone, and may be simply called "word." Check your phone's documentation for more information.

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