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Phonetic Search


Osciloscope. Osiliscope. Ossiloscope. Hm...spelling things can be tough. Even simple words, when you're in the heat of the moment of trying to find the part you need, can easily get messed up - say, writing "batery" instead of "battery." Fortunately, we've implemented a new website feature that should be helpful!


We're good at a lot of things - but spelling isn't always one of them.

The SparkFun website search now works phonetically! So if you type "ossiloscope" you won't get a "No results found" message, but rather a "Did you mean oscilloscope?" Why, yes I did! Then click on the corrected form of the product you are searching for - and voila! - your search is complete. We hope this helps you as much as it is helping us!


Comments 55 comments

  • Is this using soundex? Just wondering how this was technically implemented. :)
    http://php.net/manual/en/function.soundex.php

    • It uses the metaphone algorithm, which is similar to soundex but tries to make up for a few deficiencies. We’re using it as a part of sphinx rather than in PHP itself, so we get the added benefit of having it indexed through the algorithm so it’s fast to boot.

  • Does it take l33tsp34k? AND IT DOES!

  • Even though it’s my first language, I hate English. Mostly because it is very non-intuitive when it comes to things like spelling. I think we need a revision to English. English 2.0.
    Thank you SparkFun for not caring about my spelling!
    edit: P.S. I love how the picture has absolutely nothing to do with the news post. :)

    • Disagreed. What you say can be said about most languages.
      The problem in the U.S. is mediocre education and permitted laziness of the student. I went to a private school, and I’m about 30 years old now. I have never had a problem spelling, and quite frankly I am shocked at the spelling troubles of a vast majority of the younger kids that I encounter.
      I’m no grammar nazi, and I am not not excellent at grammar, but spelling is one of those things that is easy to master. Even basic, common words seem to be a problem nowaways. For instance, your vs. you’re - It seems that you’d have to be a complete blathering idiot to make such a mistake, yet this error is unbelievably common nowadays.
      :(

    • Actually English is one of the more intuitive languages around, it’s certainly the most intuitive of the ones I know (it’s not my native language).

      • Poor/broken English is easy enough to pick-up. Correct English (spelling and grammar) is rarely ever used even by we native speakers, myself included. I don’t want to quibble, I do think that English has some good points, but we have accumulated so many things over the centuries that are unneeded. If it were a computer language, I think many things would have been changed by now.
        Examples: Q: How do you pronounce “c”? A: It depends.
        Why do “p” and “h” together make a “f” sound? “I before E except after C or when sounding like A as in neighbor or weigh.” I won’t even get into homographs, homophones and homonyms.
        Look up ghoti (pronounced “fish”) on wiki for more info like this.
        I’ll end my rant (sorry) by saying this, if English spelling were easy and intuitive, spelling bees would not exist.

        • I love using that saying: “I before E except after C or when sounding like A as in neighbor or weigh.” And then I think about spelling words like science…

        • ghoti = classic
          Although I do agree with you, I think I might still like to keep the subtleties and irregularity of the English language. It allows for a sort of striation to occur whereby ‘classes’ or ‘levels’ of English speakers emerge. Doing functional things with the language is simple but there are still advanced features for ‘power users’ (like writers, intellectuals, people with OCD and the English, lol) The best part is that (for the most part) people speaking various levels of English can still intercommunicate because there’s enough shared syntax. It’s beautiful really.
          Txt Speak & Web stuffz wuz a try @ making englsh moar betr… DO NOT WANT.
          Also, an Orwellian “New Speak” ala 1984 would be “++bad”

          • Do we really need to facilitate striation with spelling? Nowadays, anyone who adheres to the “red-underline” principle can at least have correct spelling. They’ll still fail with heterographs so you can have some “class action” their, er…I mean there. Many things are needed for individuals to communicate using English; my current beef is with spelling specifically. Spelling errors can lead to misunderstandings. My inner engineer seize it as something we could improve upon.
            True, if we gave English spelling an overhaul we wood lose things like puns, but is that sew wrong?
            I suppose now that a majority of writing is taking place on computers, that wee can always rely on software two fix hour errors four us, butt that does knot always work out.

            • lol, “we wood lose things like puns…"
              The red undeline principle only works if you live in the US, in countries that spell English words in English English, it always has its moments.
              The thing that really really gets me though, is when people use "then” instead of “than”…
              eg, “my stuff is better ‘then’ yours”

              • In my experience, the overuse of pronouns is more a problem than spelling.
                Other problems include no singular for they, and the which/that conundrum, (with which I disagree).
                Another, we have diminished the significance of “a” and “the” such that they are wasted space.
                Regional dropping: “m'whole life”, my daughter is losing the tt in “Press da-Bu'en” and “co'en candy”.

          • Wasn’t it ++ungood?
            It has been a while since I read the book, so I forget. But at first all I could think about was whether having ++bad meant the badness would be incremented at the beginning, as opposed to bad++, which presumably would happen later.

            • plusgoodthinkful, I had spoken ungoodwise.
              doubleplusungood is the goodest way. “bad” isnt even a word.
              …unless maybe in OldSpeak?

  • Just checked out the “New Products” page and got all giggly. I am eagerly awaiting the post. I

  • This all reminds me of a conversation I had with a visiting Irishman here in the U.S. After about 20 minutes of me carrying on, he turned and said, “Would ye speak English for fook-saik!” I asked, “Who is Fook-Saik?”

  • Can anybody tell me what cable that is on the LED Matrix - Serial Interface - Red/Green/Blue interfacing with the Arduino board? Thanks

  • Awww, I’m still forced to spell in American English rather than English.

    • This reminds me of when I saw a textbook in a Jakarta bookstore on learning the English language entitled “Ingrish”. That explained to me why the locals pronounced English as they did.
      While I was there, I picked up a copy of “Pemrograman C++ di LINUX” as my own Indonesian to English translation book, geek style.

      • aaaannnnd.. you have guessed correctly sir! those programming books, especially the translated ones, are useful only as dictionaries because more often as not, major parts were translated word for word. i’m Indonesian, and a programmer, and still i find difficulties understanding those books.

  • This is really one of the greatest innovations in search engines today.

  • A semantic search would be awesome.

  • Mark Twain has been there, done that: http://www.i18nguy.com/twain.html

    • I think every single English teacher and professor in the history of the universe has had that framed, posted, or otherwise displayed in their office. :P

  • inklozur werkd :)

  • Now I can use ardweeno and it won’t yell at me!

  • Only at sparkfun would so many people respond with their own attempts to screw with the new algorithm…
    I love this place.
    edit: Only at sparkfun would it occur to so many people to screw with the new algorithm with no one asking “Why do you care about a new search thingy?” :)

  • in reference to the last line, and at the expense of souding like a phonetic search engine:
    “Did you mean ‘your search is complete’?"
    instead of: ‘you search is complete'
    :)

  • Heh heh, it speaks haxor…sort of. Reziztor works lol. Surprisingly, so does razeztor.
    Also amusing is typing in certain swear words…not that I’m childish enough to have tried that :P

  • I love it, it’s the good old insulting Google slap in the face “did you mean genius”. Come on Google we both know there is no such thing as genious, so why not just return the results for genius. It’s awesome I just thought I’d throw this out there, instead of coming back with no results and a message that says did you mean … why not come back with that same did you mean and then show the results for the “did you mean”. Saves users a click, not because we’re lazy but because sometimes the internet at school is slow and that extra click can turn into 20 seconds lost.

    • Actually, Google does sometimes change what you searched for to what it thinks you wanted, and then has a link to search for the thing you originally searched for (which in my case is usually what I really did want to search for in the first place). I hate it. Just give me what I searched for, and make a suggestion for something else, don’t automatically assume I wanted something else.

      • I also hate suggestion replacement when my original search has results, but I could see it automatically switching if the original search didn’t find anything.

      • If we let the internet think for us… just imagine the consequences…

  • Speaking of oscilloscopes… Any recommendations on a good one for home/hobby tinkering use around 100MHz or more. Budget around $500.00. Bench type. Wishful thinking, but I would really like to do some RF analysis, say 434Mhz for http://www.sparkfun.com/products/9821.

    • it depends though, do you mind sending in from china? i’ve bought many ATTEN brand oscilloscope, and my last purchase got a dual channel 100MHz digital oscilloscope for ~360ish USD. for around $400+ you could include shipping to wherever you are. of course, warranty is nonexistent unless you don’t mind sending it back to china, but i have yet to break my units even though i use them quite extensively in my workshop. and yes, i bought several.

    • Well… one can get a 100MHz bandwidth scope for under $500…. search around for “Rigol DS1052E” and the hack to make it think it’s a DS1102E… ;)

    • Yes, that is some pretty extreme wishful thinking.

  • oh wow that’s awsome!! ;)

  • This will be especially helpful for the sseeedduino

    • Let’s try that.
      Search for sseeedduino (2 found)
      showing per page
      Did you mean: seeeduino
      We didn’t find anything that matched sseeedduino
      Hmm, not what I thought. Guess you don’t carry it.

  • That’ll come in handy when people want an Ardweeno board (it works, I tried it)!

  • Thank you.

  • Heh – I recently searched for an “oscilliscope”. This would have come in handy. But no worries! I found it and made a large (for me) purchase seeded with my Free Day funds. And now I have an oscilloscope!

  • As soon as i saw this i typed “Ossciloscope” in the search bar and it gave me no results. Worked after i took out the c though.

    • I tackled a similar problem a while back. Metaphone is definitely the place to start, but it would appear that Sphinx is applying too heavy a filter on the resulting matches. Both ‘Multeplex’ and ‘Ossciloscope’ should return hits.
      Check it out:
      http://isnoop.net/dict/index.php?q=Ossciloscope
      I generated the metaphone of each word and match against it. Then, I do a levenshtein diff of the original word to the database hits and sort by score. My levenshtein threshold is >= 5, but YMMV.
      I don’t know if sphinx’s metaphone matching can be tuned, but if so, you might consider having it send you more results and apply some logic on the front end to filter it more precisely.

      • Currently the algorithm is only limited to levenshtein >= 4, but that doesn’t explain the cases you pointed out. It was a pretty quick implementation and has been going through many tweaks as more people play with it. Dealing with numbers and units is another problem we’ve been working on.
        As for what “should” return hits, it’s a subjective and very tricky balance we’re working on finding. I might bump the levenshtein max to 5 after some more testing.
        Thanks for the input :)


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