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Mind your PDQs

Compaq — Watch your text or end up outcast

Not to be outdone by the text message revolution, Compaq has come up with a shorthand language and set of etiquette guidelines for PDA users intended to speed up the task of composing emails on their handheld PCs, while maintaining a business-like tone.

Called PDQ, the language shortens those classic phrases so beloved of city types such as 'keep me in the loop', and 'moving the goalposts', thus ensuring that all users are singing from the same hymn sheet with a common set of message composition rules.

The ability to send emails wirelessly from PDAs has only recently become possible — previously users had to upload and download messages between their PCs and handhelds — so the announcement of Compaq's PDQ language and accompanying PD-Quette (a 10-point list of dos and don'ts for PDA use) is well timed.

Compaq is touting PDQ as a serious rival for SMS (text messages), predicting for PDAs a meteoric rise to universal popularity similar to that achieved by mobile phones. "We believe PDQ has the potential to become the new business-speak for hundreds of thousands of handheld computer users throughout the world," said Jude Meadows, director of Access Business Group for Compaq UK.

The rules of PDQ are fairly straightforward: when strapped for the time to type your message in full, all vowels, except the first one should be dropped from words longer than four letters. PDQ also eschews the use of numbers for words — a popular shortcut employed by SMS users in expressions such as 'c u l8ter'. Such extreme succinctness, says the PD-Quette guide, looks slapdash in a business context.

Compiled in consultation with protocol queen Drusilla Beyfus, the Mail on Sunday's etiquette columnist, and author of gems such as Modern Manners, PD-Quette also identifies different types of PDA owners by their ages and how they use their handhelds — from sharp-suited and terse Gordon Geckos to less tech-savvy, verbose Rumpoles.

Beyfus warns that, while handhelds are must-have gadgets for the "business in-crowd", the cognoscenti should take care to use them considerately. "We have witnessed with those ubiquitous, intrusive, jingle-playing mobile phones what happens when technology is allowed to get the better of good judgement and common sense."

Heaven forefend we should fall foul of such social indescretion. So what does Beyfus recommend? "My advice is to follow them [Compaq's basic rules for PDA engagement], lest you end up being shunned by friends, colleagues and strangers for your poor digital manners."

Shunnd? By strangrs? We'd nvr b folsh enuf 2 lose our judgmnt & commn sens in such mattrs.


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