The Edmond Sun

Community News Network

February 12, 2014

I built the “so-and-so is typing” feature in chat

NEW YORK — How do you feel about the typing indicator - "David is typing" - that appears on your buddy's screen while you're composing a message in chat? Does it make you feel self-conscious about how long you're taking to write a message? Do you feel paranoid when your friend appears to be typing for ages but the message you finally receive is only "ha ha"? Do you hate knowing that your "friend" is not typing anything and must be multitasking on something else? Do you hate it when you are multitasking and your erstwhile best friend keeps sending messages like "Are you still there? What are you doing? Do you still like me? Have I fallen in your heart?"

If so, you have me to blame, because I was one of the people who invented it. But I can explain everything.

The first professional software project I worked on was Microsoft's instant messenger client, saddled with the unwieldy name "MSN Messenger Service" - chosen by the same marketing experts that gave us Zune, Microsoft Bob, and .NET My Services. It shipped back in 1999 after a few years of development. During that time one of the issues that the team discussed was Gee, wouldn't it be nice to know whether the other person is responding, or waiting for you to say something?

The typing indicator tells you that something is going on, but leaves you to wonder what it is.

Back then, chatting in real time via text was for most people a very new thing. A good chunk of communication is knowing when it is and isn't your turn to speak (another chunk is vocal nuance, which is partly addressed by emoticons); on a line where only one person can speak at a time like a walkie-talkie, you really do have to say "over" to make sure your partner doesn't miss anything. But latent full-duplex, where people can talk at the same time but transmission is delayed until you, say, hit Enter, like instant messaging, has its own problems. If your chat partner's gone silent, it might be hard to know whether she was typing some huge message or if she was waiting for you to say something. We couldn't enforce any particular etiquette among users, hence the typing indicator.

 

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • VIDEO: Boston bomb scare defendant appears in court

    The man accused of carrying a backpack containing a rice cooker near the Boston Marathon finish line on the anniversary of the bombings was arraigned Wednesday. He's being held on $100,000 bail.

    April 17, 2014

  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 17, 2014

  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 17, 2014

  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 17, 2014

  • Google acquires drone maker Titan Aerospace to spread Internet

    Google is adding drones to its fleets of robots and driverless cars.
    The Internet search company said it acquired Titan Aerospace, the maker of high-altitude, solar-powered satellites that provides customer access to data services around the world. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

    April 14, 2014

  • Search teams will send unmanned sub to look for missing Malaysian airliner

    Teams searching for a missing Malaysian airliner are planning for the first time to send an unmanned submarine into the depths of the Indian Ocean to look for wreckage, an Australian official leading the multi-nation search said Monday.

    April 14, 2014

  • Francis Tuttle Bruce Gray Center hosts blood drive

    Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI) and the CADD Club at Francis Tuttle’s Bruce Gray Center are teaming up to save the lives of those in local hospitals. A blood drive will be held at the center on from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday. Anyone who is healthy and 16 years or older is urged to attend and donate.
    Donors with OBI provide every drop of blood needed by patients in all metro hospitals and some 140 other medical facilities across the state. One in every seven people entering a hospital will need blood. There is no substitute for human blood, and it has a limited time for use. That is why near 600 donors are needed each day, according to OBI.
    Appointments to donate are not required but can be made by calling 877-340-8777 or visiting obi.org.

    April 5, 2014

  • watching-tv.jpg Cutting the cord on cable TV, and not missing it a bit

    Three years ago, Royse City Herald Banner reporter Chris McGathey and his family decided to ditch pay TV in favor of Netflix, Hulu Plus and other cheaper web-based services. It's a decision they haven't regretted.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Former McDonald's store managers say they withheld employees' wages

    Two former McDonald's store managers, assisting with a campaign to raise pay for fast-food workers, said they helped withhold employees' wages at the restaurant chain after facing pressure to keep labor costs down.

    April 2, 2014

  • spt_baylor.jpg VIDEO: Angels hitting coach suffers bizarre leg injury

    LA Angels hitting coach Don Baylor suffered a broken leg while squatting to catch a ceremonial first pitch from former Angel Vladimir Guerrero on Opening Day.

    April 2, 2014 1 Photo