Less wear and tear on the Spacebar?

Posted: August 26, 2009 in blogging

typewriter

I noticed as i was watching my daughter type that the old standard from the days of the typewriter has gone by the wayside. No longer is it common practice to put two spaces at the end of a sentence. In fact, when i put two spaces at the end of a sentence on my iPhone it automatically inserts a period, a single space, and Capitalizes the next word.

I learned to type on an actual typewriter in high school.  One of those wonderful Olivetti machines that you had to push down so hard to make a good clean letter on the blank white piece of paper that your pinkies would ache at the end of the lesson from typing a’s and l’s over and over again.  I thought the ones we had at school were tough to type on, until i got a portable one for college that was even harder to press down the keys on.

Now, there is no typing really, its all keyboarding, and most of those are soft-touch so gone is the loud tapping of the keys and the clanking sound as the typewriter key hit the paper through the ribbon… ahhh memories.  We were always taught to use two spaces at the end of a sentence to ensure you noticed the period that ended it, but it seems this is no longer common practice.  I still do it when typing most of the time, except as mentioned, when using my iPhone.  I got to thinking, does the extra space take up more memory and space on the hard-drive?  I decided to do my own little test to find out.  If you’ve had any keyboarding instruction, whether by a real teacher in a classroom or via that virtual teacher Mavis Beacon (she wasn’t an actual person, just a character created to give the software a face, hope i didn’t destroy any geek crushes in saying that), you probably remember this phrase.

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.

Since it is only one sentence, i repeated it a number of times to end up with this:

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.

I started with the single space after the sentence, and checked the physical size.  In Mail, when composing a new email, the document is 1.2 kb when single spaced at the end of the sentence, and 1.3 kb when two spaces are used.  It doesn’t seem like a lot, but multiply that over the hundreds of emails some people send in a day and it could start to add up.  Strangely though, in Word the document remained the same size 24 kb (22,016 bytes).  Thinking maybe i needed a larger document, i increased the size of the paragraph by 10 fold hoping to see a difference in size appear.  I was wrong.  The files grew in size but equally, with both becoming 52kb.  I find this very perplexing since it would make sense that as you add characters to a document, regardless of whether they are spaces or letters, the size should change, apparently in my quick test this is only true in Mail but not in Word, so my initial thinking that using less spaces would use less space is not entirely accurate.  Its all depending upon which application you are using as to whether it makes a difference, the potential space savings in emails could be quite sizable, but regardless its less wear and tear on the spacebar to use a single space after a period.  Now if i can just retrain my thumbs to stop doing it.

tcg

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