Media? Medium? Or???

Subject: Media? Medium? Or???
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 10 Jun 2002 09:36:00 -0400

Keith Carlson reports: <<I saw this message while backing up files on my
computer: "Please insert the next media." "That's awkward!", I thought. They
use a plural form where they're referring to a single object. Yet even using
"medium" wouldn't be right; they're not talking about switching from tape to
disk or TV to a magazine. The software backs up files on floppies, zip
disks, tape, CD-R, etc., so they couldn't be that specific.>>

Neither "medium" nor "media" is correct; the former suggests "you've been
using disks up until now, so let's insert a tape instead" (each is a
different medium), whereas the latter suggests you should insert more than
one of whatever you insert. Blech. In the specific example you've given, all
the items being used for backup are disks, albeit of different types, so the
easy answer is "insert the next disk".

A more general solution: Since most backup software I've seen uses a
slightly different algorithm for the most significantly different media
(floppy/Zip vs. CD vs. tape), the software could probably be more specific:
insert the next disk (generic disks), CD (because CDs often use "toast"
software rather than simply copying files), or tape (because tapes are a
whole other kettle of fishies). If you really can't tell what you're backing
up onto, simply say "please insert the next disk or tape". Readers will know
which they've been using.

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada
"User's advocate" online monthly at
"When ideas fail, words come in very handy."--Goethe

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