2137: Text Entry

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Text Entry
I like to think that somewhere out there, there's someone whose personal quest is lobbying TV providers to add an option to switch their on-screen keyboards to Dvorak.
Title text: I like to think that somewhere out there, there's someone whose personal quest is lobbying TV providers to add an option to switch their on-screen keyboards to Dvorak.


Randall is remarking on the "weirdest" things about the year 2019, the year that this comic was posted. He states that the weirdest thing is that Donald Trump is president. Although several comics may have relation to Donald Trump becoming president, this is the first time ever, he has been mentioned by his full name (in 1939: 2016 Election Map he is referred to by his surname) in a standard xkcd comic. Previously Randall has expressed support for Hilary Clinton, without mentioning Trump, in a comic posted before the 2016 election with 1756: I'm With Her.

Despite the mention of Trump in the text below the panel, the majority of the text and the panel itself is focused on the second "weirdest" thing in 2019, which is the continued use of a user interface where a person has to "pick letters" to type. This can be seen when doing searches in a TV guide menu or in menus for streaming options like Netflix or Hulu. Some of these menus may allow for voice searches or support bluetooth keyboards, but the traditional method is still to select letters via a cursor. Many controllers for devices only have a few buttons, which makes it necessary to use schemes such as scrolling around a picture of a keyboard to laboriously select letters, making this extremely inconvenient and annoying to users. The fact that these haven't been replaced with better interfaces comes as a surprise to Randall, hence him believing it to be the second most weird thing in 2019. Cueball is probably looking up Our Planet which was a popular Netflix series when this comic was released. Cueball has spelled out "O U R [space] P L" so far.

Randall references the "high score" in an arcade game. When achieving a high score in an arcade game, the user typically is able to enter his name or initials into the machine. These are entered by picking letters one by one (and usually under a time limit, for extra stress and/or fun), as the comic mentions.

The title text mentions the keyboard system Dvorak, a recurrent theme on xkcd, which is a keyboard layout patented by August Dvorak and William Dealey. As the Dvorak layout is optimized for more efficient typing with two hands, it is unlikely that using it would be more efficient than a standard Qwerty when limited to cursor entry methods. Another drawback would be that the Dvorak layout is visually unfamiliar to most people, even to many Dvorak typists who rarely look at their keyboard and instead rely on muscle-memory to find keys. As such it could be confusing for users to use for TV selection menus compared to either the more visually familiar Qwerty layout or showing letters in alphabetical order. Alternately, Randall may be referring to Dvorak’s placement of frequently used letters clustered in the center as a potential slight improvement over the linear A-Z layout of such interfaces (a half-measure offered ironically, of course).


[Ponytail and Cueball are sitting on a couch, with Megan standing behind them. Cueball is pointing a remote at a television. The word space is written inside a frame.]
Television: O...U...R...SPACE...P...L...
Remote: Click Click Click
[Caption below the panel:]
The weirdest thing about 2019 is obviously that Donald Trump is president, but I think the second weirdest is that you sometimes still have to type stuff in by picking letters on a screen one at a time with a cursor like you're entering a high score in a 1980s arcade game.

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Title text: I like to think that somewhere out there, there's someone whose personal quest is lobbying TV providers to add an option to switch their on-screen keyboards to Dvorak.

Using the Dvorak layout when you have to scroll through letters is particularly bad. Since Dvorak is optimized to alternate strokes between hands (by putting all vowels on one side), you would have to spend even more time navigating between letters. 16:03, 15 April 2019 (UTC)

I suspect that's at least part of the joke in the title text, as Randall is likely aware of that fact. Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 16:22, 15 April 2019 (UTC)

I of course had to wonder what TV show they were headed for so I started OUR_PL in Google and got "Our Planet Netflix" so now I know . . .I think. 16:25, 15 April 2019 (UTC) My Netflix interface takes entries from a keyboard. Found out about 2 weeks ago... It is a Samsung TV and I think the feature was not there from the beginning. 16:59, 15 April 2019 (UTC)

Should it be clarified that Ponytail and Cueball are sitting in one chair? The drawing seemed unclear to me at first. --Youforgotthisthing (talk) 18:03, 15 April 2019 (UTC) One chair? Or a sofa or a loveseat?? 11:18, 16 April 2019 (UTC) It looks to me like a child standing beside (our perspective: behind) his chair and another person looking over his shoulder. ShawnT 23:35, 16 April 2019 (UTC) I use Dvorak on all my devices when possible and often find myself wishing for Dvorak on-screen keyboards. Sure, there's more absolute distance between consecutive characters on average, but that's offset by me not having to try to remember how QWERTY is laid out. I don't think that the joke here is "Dvorak on-screen keyboards are pointless", I think it's "Dvorak users are such a small percentage of the population that the odds of anyone bothering to cater to them is slim to none, and anyone lobbying for it is wasting their time". Undergroundmonorail (talk) 18:23, 15 April 2019 (UTC)

Smart TV Keyboards[edit]

Randall probably doesn't know / have or use these little keyboards that can literally save you from trouble and excruciating pain from one-by-one letter "typing": -- (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

This has to be an ad, right? I'm pretty sure Randall "literally" knows about USB keyboards, regardless of form factor. 22:08, 15 April 2019 (UTC)
Not necessarily, and since the IP's not blatantly vandalizing pages or spamming links to external sites, and this is the talk page, there's no need to remove it for now. But I've collapsed the URL in case it's an attempt at advertising, as we've seen a lot of (fill in the blank)Review accounts created for that purpose, and some are vandalizing pages. Herobrine (talk) 07:16, 16 April 2019 (UTC)
In my case, my smart TV has a remote control app that allows the phone's keyboard to be used. It also provides a trackpad for issuing a cursor more easily. Baldrickk (talk) 11:07, 16 April 2019 (UTC)

If just all on-screen keyboards were qwerty... Depending on the app some use qwerty and some use alphabetical grids. I'm always struggling to find the right letters in ther latter... It gets worse if alphabetical ordered letters are arranged in a standard keyboard pattern. Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 11:31, 16 April 2019 (UTC)

This got to be so annoying for me that I actually bought Roku streaming boxes for my TV's so that I can use their phone app to replace the remote and can now type on the phone's touch screen instead of going through the usual up-up-left-left-click nonsense. SteveBaker (talk) 14:14, 16 April 2019 (UTC)

Use Wired Keyboard[edit]

Any "smart tv", even cheap ones have USB ports, not just for displaying Picture albums, but you can use any USB keyboard and type on the screen. Some of the better streaming boxes such as the FireTv Media Player (discontinued), NVIDIA Shield, and pretty much any Cable box have them so you may type on the screen rather than click each letter. Also All game consoles allow keyboards now, not just in game, but back in the home screen for typing passwords as well.

Weird lines[edit]

What are those strange curved lines behind Cueball's head? There are also lines next to his legs that suggest that he's kicking them rapidly. It's unusual to see extraneous stuff like this in an XKCD comic. SteveBaker (talk) 14:16, 16 April 2019 (UTC)

I think it is being interpreted that Cueball is sitting next to Ponytail and that's her hair. The extra legs would also be hers. But the drawing here is confusing. It looks like a ponytail attached to no actual head. 17:11, 16 April 2019 (UTC)

What search?[edit]

Any thoughts on what Cueball is trying to search for here? Admiral Memo (talk) 06:07, 17 April 2019 (UTC)

As mentioned in the (current) explanation it is likely the recently very popular netflix nature-documentary "Our Planet". --Lupo (talk) 06:37, 17 April 2019 (UTC)

Donald Trump[edit]

Although several comics may have relation to Donald Trump becoming president, this is the first time ever, he has been mentioned by his full name (in 1939: 2016 Election Map he is referred to by his surname) in a standard xkcd comic.

Is this significant in some way? Unless Randall has some noted aversion to using Trump's full name, I'm pretty sure this is just standard name usage. In fact, that entire linked Sad comics page looks rather questionable, too. Hawthorn (talk) 12:28, 17 April 2019 (UTC)

OMG... This page has grown since the last time I checked. And I agree, many of these "connections" to Trump's presidency are really far fetched at best... Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 11:47, 18 April 2019 (UTC)
Yes I think it is, as he has been sad over many things that references to something Trump did. And he has references directly to Hillary. And he has mentioned many presidents in his comics. But this time he finally uses his name in a comic that is MAINLY about how weird it is that Americans choose Trump. I think his comics makes it extremely clear that he has an aversion against Trump. If you cannot see this you are either for Trump, or just blind. There are so many hints, and that he is certain about human created global warming is given from his Earth Temperature Timeline, and Trump is going against all attempts to stop this trend. If you still have any doubt Randall is against him, then this is like a religious discussion where I cannot get through to you... --Kynde (talk) 13:28, 18 April 2019 (UTC)
That's not the point. You're right it's absolutely clear that Randall is against Trump. But what remains highly debatable is that all these comics you think/claim to be connected to this fact actually are connected to that fact. Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 14:33, 18 April 2019 (UTC)
Randall is not a fan of Trump. That is perfectly clear and unobjectionable. However, you (Kynde) are drawing specific inferences about Randall's feelings for Trump that are not in evidence from the material provided - you are feeding in your own correlations and external facts, and trying to insinuate that this indicates a pattern that everyone should recognize. It does not. While this comic does mention Trump (disparagingly), it is not about him, nor is it really about Randall's feelings for him. You can tell this because Randall tends to draw stick figures related to what the comic is about. Randall's past history and support of Hillary Clinton is also irrelevant to the understanding of this comic; at best, it is trivia, but I would say it is also irrelevant trivia, since this is not a comic about Randall's political views. Hawthorn (talk) 20:58, 18 April 2019 (UTC)

Text to Speech?[edit]

perhaps i've been reading too much about voders lately, but may the letters and the space be being read out via text to speech methods? i distinctly mentally heard it in texas instrument's speak 'n' spell voice. it magnifies the intent of this comic that the text entry system could be generating speech while still requiring as much effort to use as a teletext search page. ocæon (talk) 13:27, 21 April 2019 (UTC)

I see no indication for that... if that was the message behind the comic, I think it would have been made clearer that it is actually spoken. --Lupo (talk) 10:53, 22 April 2019 (UTC)
i can accept that, though i would love to know if there's a style guide (cannon or reverse engineered) on randall's communication indicators; zigzag appears for computers and mobiles, though usually if it's not audio it will have a box, and if it is then there are four extra little radial lines at origin. rarely are they completely ambiguous. ocæon (talk) 18:41, 22 April 2019 (UTC)