[aprssig] How to deal with DTMF keypad differences betweenmanufacturers

Stephen H. Smith wa8lmf2 at aol.com
Tue Sep 30 11:40:35 CDT 2008

Robert Bruninga wrote:
>  I do not
> have a cell phone and do not text message, so we need to see how
> teenagers text message...  DO they do the 2key method, or do
> they do the variable method.  Or is this still different on
> different cellphones?

On several Motorola cellphones I have owned,  three letters are assigned 
to each number key (same as most land line keypads) except for the digit 
"9" which has four (W, X, Y, Z).  [Most land line pads don't have the 
letter "Z" on them at all -- apparently the old Bell system never had an 
exchange name with "Z" in it.]  You have to push a button up to SEVEN  
times (nine times for the "9" key) to rotatate through the numeric 
digit, the three letters in lower case and then the same three letter in 
upper case. Spaces and punctuation marks are entered by rotating though 
6 or 7 choices on the " # " and " * " keys.   Hesitating for just a 
second or two is interpreted as being finished with selecting that 
letter and locks in the currently-shown choice. The blinking underscore 
cursor then advances to the next letter position.      

If you are entering the first letter in a sentence, the upper case 
choices are presented first. After the first letter is entered, the 
following positions present the lower case letters first until you 
terminate the sentence with a period. This makes entering callsigns and 
acronyms a real pain since the button pushes keep offering the LOWER 
case choices first.    The entry process somewhat reminds me of the old  
type-wheel Dymo label guns that made embossed labels on plastic tape.  
Or spinning the memory knob on a D7 or D700 to select letters while 
composing a status beacon.

To reduce the grotesque amount of button pushing required to compose 
even the shortest string or sentence, Moto uses "Itap" predictive 
auto-complete that proposes thousands of common words based on the 
context and position in a sentence, after you enter the first two or 
three lettters of a word.  If you keep entering letters, the 
auto-complete is ignored. If you enter a space immediately after the 
proposed auto-complete, the completed word is accepted. 

i think the whole text messaging process is an absurd waste of time (I 
never use it), but the same masochistic process is used to enter names 
and addresses into the phone's phone book.  However, the auto 
case-shifting mode is altered since complete sentences don't appear in 
phone books.  Here, the first letter of each word gets (such as first 
and last names) get upper-case choices first. Subsequent entries get 
lower-case first. Any space entered immediate reverts the next-typed 
entry to upper-case-first choices. 

My gut sense is that in the amateur radio context, this whole horribly 
clunky user interface of trying to enter alpha characters on 
numeric-only "non-keyboards" is doomed to the same lack of wide-spread 
acceptance as "Voice alert". 

[Note the befuddlement of  probably the majority of users of new 
hand-helds over the issue of too many functions on too few keys, and the 
total inability of many to "program" their new radios.  (i.e. enter 
memory  channels).   The amount of air time on local repeaters (around 
here at least) spent discussing/complaining about  hand-helds that are 
too complex, can't "program", can't figure out how to set PL, can't 
switch repeater offset, don't know how to get it onto the opposite band, 
"will have to take it back to HRO to be programmed", etc is truly a 
commentary on  out-of-control  overly-complex-and-kludgy  user 
interfaces.  Or the aging demographics of the amateur radio population.  
Or perhaps both.  ]


Stephen H. Smith    wa8lmf (at) aol.com
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