Creating an iAbbreviation: SFMI

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Fairly recently I became one of those iPhone types. You know the ones – gaze ever downwards, fingers poised to pinch or pick or tap-tap.  I love the thing, though I’m not sure I love what I’ve become with it.

Anyway, that’s not really the point. The iPhone of course comes with the default signature “Sent from my iPhone.” It’s a little striking to me that so few iPhone users seem to customize this signature. I changed mine to “Sent from John’s iPhone.”  I’m not sure what purpose that alteration serves except to try and set myself apart from the nameless herd of Apple fanboy iPhone users. Misplaced vanity on my part. Of course this isn’t quite the point either.

I quickly realized that I, and nearly every other iPhone user, was spending 24 useless characters with every email  (21 for the default sig).  Assuming there’s 13 million iPhone users out there each sending an average of 10 emails a day, that’s more than 2.5 megabytes of pure waste!  Just think of the carbon footprint.

I’m joking of course, but it did feel funny that I would often be sending an email with fewer characters than the signature.  This is hardly a new phenomena, plenty of signatures can get pretty long – just look at the emails from my lawyer, but since this particular signature is such a commonly seen thing with little to no personalization, almost a meme, why not abbreviate it?  Thus my new iPhone signature was born: SFMI. In case it’s not clear, that’s an acronym for Sent From My IPhone.

Little did I expect the ensuing problem: I have to inform every person to whom I send mail what this stands for. I figured it was such an obvious optimization that it would immediately show up on internet dictionaries, Lifehacker, Wikipedia. That a simple web search would turn up my intended meaning and recipients of my emails would quickly and easily get it.

Well, I was wrong.  Apparently Silver Falcon Mining Inc. has a fairly large web presence, and if you add ‘acronym’ to your search you quickly find the meaning: “Single Family Mortgage Insurance”.  Not helpful and somewhat puzzling to my email-ees who spend a frustrating minute trying to figure it out, then email me back quizzically: “SFMI? Wha?”

I will not stand for this state of affairs.  SFMI means: “Sent from my iPhone” (Unless you’re trying to buy stock in a mining company).  You heard it here first.  I give everyone permission, encouragement even,  to use this in their own communications. Feel free to make the obvious substitutions: SFMB(lackberry), SFMA(ndroid), SFMM(obile), or the ever inscrutable SFM*.

Hopefully this will start to get the acronym into the wild and onto the top of the search results and I can stop explaining to each of my friends and colleagues what my sig means. If we all work together on this issue we can make a difference.  Si, se puede.

(not SFMI)