RE: OT? Vintage manuals

Subject: RE: OT? Vintage manuals
From: "Andrew Warren" <awarren -at- synaptics -dot- com>
To: "Stuart Burnfield" <sburnf -at- au1 -dot- ibm -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2006 19:07:36 -0800

Stuart Burnfield wrote:

> Speaking of vintage manuals, the software product whose manuals I've
> been working on has been in continuous development for 31 years.

Wow. What product? DB2?

> I've become pretty adept at spotting phrases that indicate
> anachronisms, such as references to 'the new interface', 'as before',
> you can now...'.

There are similar things to watch out for when product or service
names are chosen. It often seems harmless to use names with only
relative meanings (e.g., "Low-Speed" and "Full-Speed" for the 1.5-
and 12-megabit/second USB protocols)... But when something new
comes along, those early names can really cause problems.

In the case of USB, the faster-than-"Full Speed" protocol ended up
being called "High Speed", which caused no end of confusion among
people who didn't know the history and who understandably assumed
that "full-speed" had to be the fastest speed.

The Philips I2C spec suffered similarly: As originally specified,
the bus had a maximum speed of 100 kbit/second. Later, when a
400 kbit/second mode was added, the original speed was given the
name "Standard Mode" and the new speed was called "Fast Mode".

Eventually, an even faster mode was added; they decided to call it
"High-Speed Mode", which was difficult to disambiguate from "Fast
Mode". Even worse, technology had progressed by then, and just
about everyone was running I2C at "Fast Mode" speeds. The so-called
"Standard Mode" wasn't the standard any more, so "Fast" was confused
with "Standard" almost as often as with "High-Speed".

And of course there's the Starbucks "Tall" cup, which is the
shortest cup on the menu, and the "Grande" (Italian for "large")
which is actually the medium size. They almost got it right with
the 20-ounce "Venti" (Italian for "twenty") but then they went and
made the cold-drink Venti cup 24 ounces.


-Andrew, who -- back to the topic -- once bought an entire Apple II
system, with disk drives and a monitor and a huge box of pirated
disks, just to get the "Red Book" reference manual

=== Andrew Warren - awarren -at- synaptics -dot- com
=== Synaptics, Inc - Santa Clara, CA

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