Saturday, 23 June 2018


Just over 18 months ago, I acquired my first smartphone*. It was an early Christmas present and I was delighted with it. It took a while to investigate* all of its features. It was quite a startling change from my very basic cheap phone that only did calls and texts, nothing else, and which is now a dinosaur in comparison. Although I had carried the old one around with me, it was rarely used and so the credit on it lasted a very long time. I wanted to get a smartphone in order to* take advantage of travel information and use the maps, to make my journeys around London easier and more convenient. It brought with it a whole new vocabulary that must be* understood in order to* get the best from the device and use it correctly. It would have been* most interesting* to ask Sir Isaac Pitman for the outlines for these and I am certain that he would have no hesitation in writing it all very easily, as his system is based on the phonetic range and combinations of the English language, rather than being tied to a particular time period or subject matter. Although he would be able to write the outlines without knowing what all the terms mean, it is likely to be the other way around for the learner, to whom it is thoroughly familiar terminology but most of which will not be encountered in the shorthand book. Here are a few terms that you will meet.

* "smartphone" It is the halved Ray that is in position, so it does not matter where the F  stroke ends up

* "investigate" Omits the first T

* Omission phrases "in ord(er to)" "mus(t) be" "it would (have) been" "mos(t) interesting"

A smartphone is a mobile phone that has an inbuilt computing platform and provides a range of internet-based services. Air time is the time you spend talking on your phone and may also refer to the allowance of talking minutes under the contract you have taken out. A bezel is the outside frame that encloses the phone screen, and the narrower this is the better, to give the maximum usable screen size. The smartphone screen is touch sensitive, in order to* use and navigate the installed apps. The phone shows a small keyboard on demand, so you can type in your messages and search terms. If using a fingertip for these* is too awkward, you can use a stylus which is less likely to hit the wrong key or button, as it is much smaller. If you don’t wish to use touch, you can use a voice command instead. Voicemail is an answer machine service operated by the network provider, the same as one uses on a landline phone. You can record a message stating that you are unavailable to take the call, and the caller can leave a message, which you can listen to later.

* Omission phrase "in ord(er to)"

* "for these" Insert the vowel, as "for this" could also make sense

An audio jack is the socket in the phone into which you plug your earphones or portable speaker. Bluetooth is a method of creating a wireless connection over a short distance, such as between a cordless or hands-free earpiece and the handset. Drivers are allowed to use this, although it is illegal to hold and use a mobile phone whilst driving. Coverage* refers to the area where you can get a good signal from your network. A weak signal would produce intermittent connections or none at all, until you move to a location where the signal is stronger*. Your local shop or establishment may provide a free Wifi signal as an attraction to bring customers into their vicinity.

* "coverage" Using a left version of VR in order to join with the J stroke. "cover" on its own uses the right version.

* "stronger" Alternative outline that omits the hard G sound

Battery life refers to the number of hours that the phone battery can be expected to last between charges, and battery power remaining is generally shown as a percentage. Standby time is how long your phone battery will last, starting from a full charge, when it is switched on but idle or in sleep mode, and using the phone will hasten the reduction of this time. You need a charger to recharge your phone. Some are in the form of a cradle or desktop unit, where you seat* the handset on the contacts and so you can continue to view the upright screen. You may have a wall charger, or one that sits just above a household electrical outlet. On my phone I have to plug a short cable into the base of the phone and connect the other end to a USB plug which goes into an extension socket on the corner of my desk. I use the same cable to connect the phone to my computer to download photos.

* "seat" insert the vowel and clearly thick, as "sit" would also make sense. "Seat" here has the meaning of settling the item firmly into its allotted slot on a base, rather than just putting it down. "seat, set and sit" should always have their vowel inserted, as the meanings are so close.

You may choose to lock the screen of your phone so that no-one else can access it. You can unlock it with several methods, a security number, a fingerprint scanner where you swipe your finger across the screen, or an iris scanner. You can send real time text messages, called instant messaging. The term SMS stands for Short Message Service. The phone will have an LCD screen, which stands for liquid crystal display. The speed of your internet connection is measured in megabytes* per second. Your operating system is likely to be iPhone, Android or Windows, and these are also used for tablets* and other devices. They run all the systems and all your apps. You can pay for your calls and internet usage by taking out a contract with the service provider or by using the pay as you go option, where you only pay to top up your allowance when needed. Peak usage is during general business hours and off-peak is out of business hours, when phone companies may offer reduced rates. International roaming refers to your use of the phone in a different country and on a different network, and various extra charges may apply.

* "megabytes" Always insert the diphthong, to distinguish it from "megabits". A byte is 8 bits.

* "tablets" Always insert the second vowel, to help distinguish it from "tables" or "tableaux"

The phone contains a SIM card, which stands for Subscriber Identity Module, a computer chip that stores your data, your mobile number and account details. There are three sizes, standard micro and nano. Cloud storage stores your files, such as music, photos, videos* and other information, in an online location, and not on your phone. This means you can access it from other devices and your data is safe even if you lose, damage or destroy your phone or SIM card. A dual-SIM smartphone is like having two phones in one device, with two separate numbers that operate independently. A SIM only contract refers only to the SIM card and your use of it, with no handset included, which means you can continue using your existing handset. A SIM-free phone is one that you buy without a SIM card and you are therefore free to choose a different service provider.

* "photos, videos" Insert the last vowel and diphone, as they are similar in outline and meaning

A splash or water resistant phone will stand up to rain or a short time* under water, but not prolonged immersion in water. You can cover the screen with a protective film, either plastic or very thin glass, to prevent scratches and give a little more protection against breakage. Streaming video and music on your smartphone is a way to watch and listen to these in real time, without having to download the video or sound files first.

* Omission phrase "short (t)ime"

A camera phone is one that has a built-in camera for taking photos and videos*. The camera may have an auto-focus* feature that focuses* on the subject automatically. Some phones have dual cameras, and the front facing secondary lens is used for taking selfies, pictures of yourself where you can see and adjust the position of the shot on the screen before you take it. A dual lens camera has two lenses* in order to* take photos that are more detailed. If your phone camera has optical image stabilisation technology, this will keep the image steady, which will improve low-light photos. Megapixels is a measure of the quality of the camera and the depth of detail that will be recorded.

* "photos ... videos" Insert the last vowel and diphone, as they are similar in outline and meaning

* "focus" "focussing" Always insert the vowel, to help distinguish from "fix, fixing"

* "lenses" Change to stroke N for the plural, as the Ses circle cannot be written inside an N Hook

* Omission phrase "in ord(er to)"

I know that my smartphone will certainly become a dinosaur as well one day, as will everyone’s brand new bang up-to-date expensive new toy, whether that be a phone, tablet or any of our must-have devices. Until then we will make the most of the convenience they bring, and, like the television, washing machine* and vacuum cleaner, and indeed all our inventions through the ages, we are already wondering how we (and our forebears) ever managed to live without them. (1364 words)

* Omission phrase "wash(ing) machine"