Addicted To Words With Friends

So if I wasn’t already addicted to my iPhone, over the Thanksgiving break my brother introduced me to the wildly popular application called Words With Friends.  If you have never heard of Words before chances are you probably live under a rock and you probably don’t have a smart phone. Words With Friends is basically a one-on-one game of Scrabble played electronically. There are people all over the country who play it religiously, including Alec Baldwin who was kicked off his plane because he refused to turn his phone off while in the middle of a game.
I really like Words With Friends. I enjoy the competitive nature that comes with going heads up against someone in a battle of wits. The relaxation that also comes with Words is much appreciated also. There is just something about sitting down on the couch and watching football while at the same time making moves in Words. If, heaven forbid, there happens to be no football on and there is nothing else for me to do, Words is a time killer too. The game is a godsend during meetings at work…I am able to keep my sanity during those times when meetings go on forever by becoming immersed in my latest game. Have to go to the bathroom? Words is quickly replacing newspapers and magazines.
While the game is fun, it is also addicting. Once in a battle, you become engaged and find yourself going back and forth from what you are doing at the moment in your real life to what is unfolding on your phone. Now here is the kicker…multiply the craziness and competitive nature of that one game by twenty. Why twenty? Because you can have up to twenty games going at once. For people like me who love the game, we are always maxed out on the game limit. When you are playing that many games at once, you are guaranteed to always have action waiting for you on your phone when you go back to the application. Sometimes when I am in the middle of something at work or I do manage to get a couple hours of sleep, I will go a while without checking Words. When I finally check back on the app, I will usually have something like fourteen or fifteen moves to make. When this is the case, I always feel like the chess master who is going from chess board to chess board, making move after move. It is a lot of fun, but  can also be overwhelming at the same time.
Words With Friends is not perfect. Some of the words that the application accepts make me so angry. I think the English version of the game should be based on the English language. I get incensed when people play the word “Qi.” This is a notoriously popular word in Words With Friends because it is an easy way to get rid of a Q Tile when you don’t have a lot of space to do much more or you don’t have a U Tile. But come on, it is a Chinese word. It Is also an incredibly lazy move. This would never fly as legit in my own family Scrabble game. Sometimes I feel skill is taken out of a lot of the Words games with certain opponents. What these opponents do is basically fish all day for words and/or use words that are nowhere near their vocabulary level but because they have played roughly 1,385,424 games of Words before, they know it is an acceptable word and they can get a good amount of points for it. Ask the person what the word they just played means and they will look at you with a blank stare.
In Words With Friends, as opposed to Scrabble, there is no time limit on how long you have to make a move (well, there is like a ten day period where you have to make a move or forfeit). There is also no penalty for putting down a word that is actually not a word. All what happens is the app  tells you that the jibberish you put down is not an acceptable word and you get to try again…over and over. So basically what you can do, and many people do this, is take an hour to try every sketchy, potentially high point value word under the sun until the app finally accepts one.  I much rather play you and lose to you because of your superior vocabulary rather than your ability to blindly string together some obscure word that took you fifteen minutes and thirty different submissions to come up with. If I was in charge of Words With Friends, I would implement a time limit and a word submission limit. Each time you tap into a game with a certain opponent, you would have two minutes to make a move. If you did not make a move in that two minutes, your turn would be passed. Likewise, there would be little tolerance for guesswork. The app would allow you ONE spell check. The first time you put down a word that is nowhere to be found in the dictionary you would get a notice telling you that it is not a word….the second time you put down a bogus word, your turn would be passed. I just think these changes would focus the game more on intelligence and wit rather than a challenge of who has the most time to use every combination of their letters to come up with some bizarre word that they will never utter in their life.
Words With Friends also rejects words that are in fact real words. I was in a close game with someone once and I attempted to play the word “June.” I had my “J” (J Tiles are worth 10 points) on a triple letter space and I was all set to seal up the game. However, once I submitted the word I was greeted with the “June is not an acceptable word message.” Hogwash. A calendar month is definitely a word. The game also accepts some cuss words and rejects others.
Despite Words With Friends having some flaws, it is what it is. It is definitely a game of strategy. I have perfected my own personal strategy and have had a great deal of success with it. However, there are some people who I have a tough time beating. My brother is the best player I know. I have only beat him once. My boss kicked my ass by a hundred points the other day (she actually broke a 14 game win streak I had put together). I have several friends who I play with who I know it will go down to the wire with each time. Games get so much fun and intense when each player is down to their last several tiles, the board is full, and the gap in points between the two players is in the single digits. SIDE NOTE: I said I have a tough time beating my brother and that is a testament to him. But please don’t do what he does. After a victory he will send the score and the board of the game to Facebook, plaster it on his page, tag his opponent in it, and give it some caption talking about how bad he just beat whoever. Don’t do that. Win with class and lose with class.
Words With Friends is also a social game too! There is a chat option and I use it a lot. I will talk good-natured shit to opponents, call them out if they play a bush league word, or send them a wake up call if they are taking way too long to make a move. I also use it just to chat too. I have reconnected with people and had game long conversations with friends and acquaintances who I haven’t talked to in a long time or really never talked to at all. If there is someone you have a crush on and they are on Words With Friends, send them an invite to play! It is a good way to get your foot in the door with the person. If played right you can go from chatting with her on Words With Friends to texting her on your phone to talking to her face-to-face on a date. It is definitely worth a try.
So believe it or not, I have not checked my Words With Friends since I started writing this. That means I have forty-five minutes worth of moves that I need to catch up on so it is best that I probably wrap this up. But if you are reading this and you have Words With Friends, challenge me!!  Good luck. Don’t Blink.

Texting With the iPhone and Texting in General

If you have followed my Twitter lately, you might have seen some really bizarre tweets that have popped up, some that seem really out of place. Well believe me, it is not your imagination. You see, ever since I have gotten my iPhone I have more than once sent out tweets that should have been sent as text messages to actual people. It does not stop there. I have also sent texts to people that were meant to be sent to other people, tweets to people which were meant to be sent to Twitter, and direct Twitter messages to people that were meant to be direct messages to other people. With the iPhone it is so easy to look at your device and feel confident that you are sending your message to your intended person or your intended social networking service. Of course that is until you get a message of six question marks in a row sent back your way or someone texts you to ask you what the hell you just posted to your Twitter account.
Although every misguided text or tweet I have sent out over the past few weeks since I got my iPhone has been embarrassing, I have not screwed up royally yet. You know, I have not sent any texts containing private information to someone who was not supposed to see it. I have not sent out a profanity laced tweet to my 300+ Twitter followers that was meant to be a direct message to someone who just messed up big time. I have not texted my mom with content that was supposed to go to a girl. But I really feel it is just a matter of time. iPhones are very tricky, I swear that I was sending a message to its intended recipient and then somehow the people from Apple pulled the rug from underneath me, hacked my message, and sent it to someone else.
I guess I should not complain too much because I have not had one of those big autocorrect mistakes…yet.  It seems like all of my friends with iPhones have at least one good story with one of their texts getting completely skewed by autocorrect. I get forwarded those e-mails all the time of epic autocorrect disasters. You know the ones where some person is trying to ask his boss for a day off and his text comes across the lines of him asking her if she will jack him off? Well I believe some of the ones I get but some of them are so far-fetched I don’t take them seriously for two seconds. But that is beside the point. While obviously I have had problems with my iPhone in sending my messages to the correct person or service, I feel I am very good at always double checking the actual content of my texts to make sure all spelling and grammar are correct. That is important to me. Someday I will get into how much the people who text using a language that is even more primitive than what a cavemen would use bothers me.
Before I got an iPhone I still made terrible texting mistakes that I wish I could have taken back. When you send out 6,000 texts a month, it is just going to happen. I don’t think anyone who is reading this right now who texts regularly can say they have never made the humiliating blunder of sending a text to someone who you were saying something not so very flattering about. Yes, it has happened to me and it is probably the worst result of texting that there is. Your text was meant to go to the friend you were talking about this other person with but since you had this other person on your mind so much, you send it to him/her. In my case when it happened, I chose to be straight up with the person and apologize to him/her and then respectfully take up the issue I had  that I initially did not have the guts to take up with him/her.
I have also sent text messages to people that I regretted immediately after I pressed the send button. Texts are the exact same things as e-mails…they stay around forever. As I have gotten older, I have tried to be better at not sending out texts that contain anger or raw emotion. The rule that we use in the office when  someone pisses us off is  the exact same rule I use in my social life: Write/text out what you are feeling at the moment but do not send. Wait a couple hours for your emotions to cool, and if you feel the same way, then go ahead and send the message. In my experiences, most of the time I do not end up sending the message.  If I am dating a girl and we are fighting, I am calling her up and talking to her. If I get a random angry text from someone out of left field, you are not even going to get a response from me…through text or by call. First off, I am not going to entertain your bullshit and secondly I am going to use that text you sent me as leverage in the future if need be. I am not going to supply you with any ammunition.
Another mistake that I have probably made more than any other in my texting career is just not being clear enough. Texting, more than any other form of communication, can be very ambiguous and taken out of context. I don’t know how many girls I have upset with texts that were never meant to cause any form of rivet or hurt feelings. I am convinced that a simple “Okay, have a good night” can be taken the wrong way. I have finally realized that what makes sense to me as I type it out on my phone is not always going to make sense the way I want it to when the other person sees it displayed on their phone. Tones of voice, the stressing of syllables, and emotion just can’t be detected  through texting. It is important to remember that.
So as I move on with my iPhone I am going to be very mindful of the quirks that go with texting on this very sophisticated device. However, I am also going to do my best to adhere to basic principles of texting in general that I have learned throughout the years. Texting is going nowhere, it is important to become the best communicator possible while using this special medium, no matter what type of cellular device you have. Don’t Blink.

Do You Trust Me With An iPhone??

Today I joined the 21st century and activated my new iPhone. I have had my nifty device now for about thirteen hours and I can say that in that short amount of time I have come quite a long ways. It should probably be noted that if you are swamped at work, it is not a good idea to activate your iPhone.  Because I could not put my new piece of technology down, and because I am in the middle of a jam packed week,  I left work a little before 8pm (got there at 7:30am). So take my advice and activate your phone on a weekend so you can have all day  to become acquainted  with your new phone.
Luckily for me, my work bought me my iPhone. With my new position, it was just necessary that I have one. In order to keep up with the second-by-second crazy breaking news environment that our department must keep up on and be at the forefront of, it just made sense. I have downloaded the Twitter App and I know have access to all ten of our department accounts right on my phone…that is pretty sweet! I will also now have the ability to start initiatives with social media that I could not before because I did not have a smart phone. It is so nice to be able to immediately respond to e-mails while in a meeting or walking back from the gym however I do not know if I have warmed up yet to the idea of receiving them while at home watching football or while taking a girl out. A couple of people I work with today told me to simply not look at it but I must confess I don’t know if I will be able to do that. When I look at my phone and it tells me I have an e-mail I can’t resist, I have to know what it says.
Even though the reason why I have my iPhone is because of work, I want to get away from that for a second and just talk about my thoughts and reaction to the phone. First off, I love how it is half phone/half music device. I have never owned an iPod in my life and now I have one. I can’t wait to start downloading music to it and building up my library. How cool is it that you can sync everything through your computer using iTunes? Everything in that aspect is so easy and accommodating.
I love all the different apps you can get! I feel like I might go a little over board on this. A cool thing about my phone is that I set up my Apple ID using my own personal credit card so I have the freedom to add whatever I want to my phone knowing that I will not charge the department a cent. Apps dealing with sports, weather, social media, and country music are areas I see myself subscribing to.
Over the course of the day I really got to know my phone. When I first activated it this morning I was a little overwhelmed but I was also really excited. Right away I realized why everyone talks about the iPhone the way they do. The possibilities really are endless. It is crazy to think that such a small device has so much power. With such a small, sleek, powerful device though, you have to treat it right. The first thing my boss said to me when she saw that I had my iPhone was to buy a case for it. I admit it, I have had some bad luck with phones in the past and I have broken and/or lost my fair share.  For whatever reason, if you have a Blackberry in our department and you break it you get it replaced…not the case with the iPhone. I am going to hold myself to a high standard and make sure I take impeccable care of my device. I am a twenty-four year old guy who can take care of his things. There will be a case on my iPhone by the end of the week.
I do have to get used to the texting part of my iPhone. Even though by the end of today I was 100% better/quicker at texting on my new phone, I still have a long way to go. I need to lose a lot of weight in my fingers to get where I want to be texting wise. My fat fingers messed me up so many times today that I was very humbled. This is coming from a person who sends out around 6,000 text messages a month. I am used to texting with one hand with my eyes closed while juggling fire so to say that I felt like I took a step back today is an understatement. Even though my boss said she has still not gotten used to texting on her iPhone, I am going to become the best IPhone texter that I can possibly be. One thing that I am going to have to say goodbye to (and my mom is going to be so happy) is texting and driving. With my old phones, I would text with one hand and steer with the other. It made boring drives go by so much faster. With the way the iPhone is set up texting wise it would be plain suicide to even attempt that. My driving and texting days are over.
Tonight I  am going to devote a few hours to learning even more about my phone and becoming more efficient on it. I might just pull an all-nighter, that is how stoked I am about this phone. If you have any tips or stories for me regarding your experiences with the iPhone please let me know, I would love to hear. Until then, I will probably be playing Angry Birds. Don’t Blink.