Re: I had say it because I was afraid no one else would.

Subject: Re: I had say it because I was afraid no one else would.
From: "Jerry Kindall" <j -dot- kindall -at- tecplot -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 30 Jan 2009 10:32:14 -0800

David Pogue is not only a technology journalist but also a technical
writer. He's the creator of the popular "Missing Manual" series
published by O'Reilly and has written several Missing Manuals himself,
as well as many other trade books and product manuals over the last 20
years, including the second-ever "Dummies" book. He's hardly an

And he does fine work, which is one of the reasons he has his own
imprint at O'Reilly and is a personal technology columnist at the New
York Times. No, I don't know Pogue (though I must have breathed the
same air as him at Macworld Expo a few times), but I've certainly been
aware of him for many years.

Pogue's criticism is pretty gentle and certainly nothing to be offended
by. We all have Internet access and have calibrated our rudeness meters
accordingly, right? So let's try to stick to discussing his
recommendations, rather than the fact that he dared to make them in the
first place.

I do take issue with some of his points. "Dialog," for example, is just
one of those words that you have to learn if you're going to use a
computer in the post-Macintosh era, like "mouse," "menu," or -- and this
a word that really makes no sense at all to computer novices, yet passes
completely unremarked by many technical writers -- "application." If
you already know the term "dialog box," then "dialog" is obviously a
short form, and is perfectly understandable.

If you want to pick on a common computer term, how about "radio button?"
Kids growing up today will probably never see a car radio with
mechanical tuning buttons of the sort that inspired the name of these UI
elements. A colleague and I were discussing this term recently while
working on our company's style guide and came up with "bubbles" (using
an analogy to filling in a Scantron form) but were not entirely
satisfied with that, either.

I also disagree that "FireWire" is in any way descriptive, unless you
think that actual fire is being transmitted through the cable, but at
least it's more memorable than "IEEE 1394."

Jerry Kindall, SDK Technical Writer
Tecplot, Inc. | Enjoy the View
Bellevue, Washington, USA

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