RE: Master / Slave and context

Subject: RE: Master / Slave and context
From: Hedley Finger <hedley -dot- finger -at- ericsson -dot- com -dot- au>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 16:02:34 +1000

Fellow baccy chewers:

On another tech writer list a contributor seriously advanced the
argument that User Guides should be called something else because no-one
wants to be considered a heroin addict (= user). The point the writer
missed is that terms offensive in a particular context are inoffensive
in another context. So "master / slave" may be inappropriate on HR
documents but fine in engineering.

> Here are some possible alternatives:
> Control copy and work copy
> Master and clone
> Original and duplicate
> Source and reflection
> Primary and secondary

Nope, none of these are possible alternatives. The master/slave has a
particular meaning in electronic, mechanical, and electrical
engineering. The master device controls the behaviour of a slave device
in a particular way. Adjusting the behaviour of the master
automatically changes the behaviour of all the slaves identically. Some

@ In the Australian settlement at Mawson, Antarctica, there are master
fire-indicator boards (fire alarm displays to you and me) and slave FIBs
(also known as mimics). The slave FIBs are controlled by and display
the same alarms as the masters but DO NOT derive alarm data from fire
sensors directly.

@ Remember those office clocks in old movies where the second hand jerks
forward rather than moving continuously and smoothly? Those are slave
clocks controlled by a master clock with a highly accurate electric
"perpetual-motion" pendulum. Adjusting the time or the pendulum rate
causes all the slaves to change in lock step. Of course, now that
crystal-oscillator controlled wrist watches can now be obtained for $2,
these clocks have all but disappeared.

@ Again, the speed indicator on a ship's bridge is a slave controlled by
a master in the engine room. When the mate selects FULL SPEED AHEAD the
stoker in the engine room adjusts the engine speed accordingly and the
slave indicator on the bridge moves to FULL SPEED AHEAD as proof that
the stoker has received and understood the message.


Hedley Finger Technical Writer

Ericsson Australia Pty Ltd, Documentation Group
Tel. +61 3 9301 6214 Cell. +61 412 461 558 Fax. +61 3 9301 6199
Email. hedley -dot- finger -at- ericsson -dot- com -dot- au

Hand Holding Projects Pty Ltd
Tel. +61 3 9809 1229 Cell. +61 412 461 558 Fax. +61 3 9809 1326
Email. hfinger -at- handholding -dot- com -dot- au

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