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back to article You have to have standards – or do you?

Given that so much of the time and effort expended by you technical and computing types revolves around standards, just how important are they in the larger sense? And if they are important, who ought to be devising them, and should they be voluntary or imposed? This might sound a tad odd in this modern age, for the default …

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wasn't there an incident

with imperial and metric measurements and a space probe?

And to your cheese and biscuits, the scale on the weight is probably the same for all of them.

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Trollface

what utter tosh!

trolls writing articles again reg?

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Paris Hilton

What on earth are you wibbling on about?

This reads like a reactionary Daily Mail "they've banned our sausages" rant with some sub-QI-level pseudo-facts thrown in for good measure (pun intended).

The "Loi Allgood" has nothing to do with ... whatever point it is you are trying to make.

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FAIL

Assembler standards ??

You were doing (fairly) well until we got to: "We probably know enough about Assembler to have a standard (or multiple standards perhaps) version of it:"

Clearly, a lesson in what Assembler is is needed here (from someone who in his 2nd year degree course was required to manually translate a program written in assembler to 1's and 0's and then punch them in on the front panel switches of an HP2100)

Assembler is a mnemonic "language" for the machine level, numeric, opcodes of the processor for which it is designed, with (usually) the addition of at least macro capabilities to assist the programmer.

As such, in general, the processor designer is best-placed to "standardise" the language, and it will be processor-specific. i386 assembler must, by definition, be entirely different from Power PC assembler, both entirely different from Alpha assembler, both entirely different from PDP-11 assembler, both entirely different from ARM assembler, etc, etc, ad nauseam.

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Happy

Ancient memories

This reminds me of my first job, programming the IBM1130. Wrote in both fortran and assembly, input using a card deck, and debugging via stepping thru the 8k of core (magnetic doughnuts strung in a wire frame) by referencing the front panel's lights displaying hex.

It's a wonder we got anything done in those days.

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Megaphone

whatever happens,....

Just keep Microsoft out of it and also stipulate that ALL standards are to be patent free and free to implement.

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Ru
Facepalm

Right,

because there's nothing like excluding a major industry player from a standards process to ensure that the standard is widely used.

It isn't 2005 anymore. The world has moved on, and MS is being left behind by the likes of Apple and Google and Facebook. I presume all three of those are respectable and trustworthy upstanding corporate citizens who can be relied upon to contribute fairly in your rainbow-crapping unicorn-populated world where everything is fine and good because Micro$haft lol isn't allowed to play with the cool kids.

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Anonymous Coward

Remember

MS are the people who thought they would be able to impose US English as a standard on the rest of the English speaking world. Not the US government, but MS.

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I thought Apple did, too

"MS are the people who thought they would be able to impose US English as a standard on the rest of the English speaking world. Not the US government, but MS"

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WTF?

@AC 12:50 GMT

Citation needed.

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Anonymous Coward

What?

What AC at 12:50?

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Devil

US English? Microsoft?

They don't even speak it, do they?

Or any other kind of English.

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Devil

Inventing new Words

Shakespeare seems to have got away with it but the trouble now is that we are constantly having words invented by sub-literates.

The favourite method used here is to randomly turn nouns into verbs - leverage for example. Another one is to stick an extra bit onto an existing word. This has been the way for a long time but "methodology"? Come on please! If I am asked what methodology I use to do something, I like to disconcert PHBs by saying that "My method is...".

Conclusion? According to my teachers at school. Shakespeare was pretty clever. The same cannot be said the sales droids and the like who try and baffle us with bulls**t.

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Anonymous Coward

Leverage?

Leverage is a bad example, simply because it was already a perfectly legitimate word before people started to use it in the context you are talking about. So leverage wasn't a new word at all, just a misuse of an existing word. A usage which stems, I believe, from some idiot not actually knowing what the word meant in the first place and then other people picked up on it,

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Anonymous Coward

I don't think that means what you think it means...

Apologies to Inigo Montoya BTW, but...

Methodology does not mean the same as method. If you confuse the two that is your problem. The best description I know of the word methodology is "the study or description of methods". So, for example, PRINCE2 is a project management method. A book describing the PRINCE2 method is a methodology.

The person asking you what methodology you use is not using the word correctly, but that does not mean than they are using a word which does not have a meaning.

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Headmaster

@Inigo Montoya impersonator

I bet you like to correct people who use "educational" when they ought to use "educative". Chicks dig that kind of thing.

In another universe.

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Paris Hilton

You have to have standards

Times New Roman 12 Point is a font.

Time New Roman is a typeface

Oh and colour has a 'u' in it.

Paris, no standards at all

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Anonymous Coward

@somebeggar

According to the OED (the only source that matters):

eductional (adj) intended or serving to educate or enlighten:

educative (adj) intended or serving to educate or enlighten; educational:

So educational and educative are synonymous. So what was your point again?

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@coward

a) it's a joke

b) you appear to have "accidentally" skipped over the OED's first definition for educational

c) it's a joke

d) it's a joke, you dick

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@Some Beggar

Back to the OED:

Joke (n.)

a thing that someone says to cause amusement or laughter, especially a story with a funny

punchline:

a trick played on someone for fun.

[in singular] informal a person or thing that is ridiculously inadequate

I'm assuming your "joke" fits the third definition then. It certainly doesn't fit the first and as for the second I can't see how anybody would have had fun posting that particular bitter invective.

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Tune in for the next episode ... ®

No, I'd rather not thanks.

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IT Angle

With Andy Rooney?

To be fair to Mr Rooney, though, he can be rather witty. Mr Worstall, on the other hand, might need to (re-)read up on the evolution of the English language to see the absurdity of dragging Mr Shakespeare into a standardisation diatribe.

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Ru
Meh

RFCs have done reasonably well in internet land.

but that's because they've dealt with (mostly) practical things and (hopefully) sensibly defined interfaces.

What would a 'cloud standard' look like? What problems would it solve?

If you're tied to a cloud service provider and unable to move away at present, perhaps you should evaluate the sort of software you've written. With the exception of ASP.NET and WCF, all the web-facing software I've ever worked on has been straightfoward to redeploy between systems running Windows or Linux, sitting on actual hardware, VMWare, Xen or EC2. If you don't design the software for portability, all the standards in the world aren't going to help you.

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Unhappy

Arrrgh! Standards! A necassary evil though

I work with DVB (digital TV broadcasting) and with standards it's laready a nightmare.

Without them each country would need it's own model of TV, prices would double and features plummet.

The situation is bad enough already with countries having their own variants for technical, budgetary, historial or even political reasons but at least we stand a chance of putting out a product the public won't complain about too much.

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Joke

But insisting upon this ... .... would have meant no Shakespeare

Best reason of the lot for standards then.

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FAIL

Register website hacked by trolls.

What on earth was all that about?

Where does one start?

Australia has a few railway gauges, so geographical separation explains nothing here.

Mostly Standard gauge -1.435m, followed by narrow gauge 1.066m, and broad (Irish) gauge 1.6m a distant third.

"Standard" Assembler - WTF?. See earlier poster

And the French Canadians are far, far more militant against english words than the french. "Chien Chaud" anyone?

Morse code was originally invented for the english language, so it's hardly surprising that it would be adapted for a different language and then international usage, given the different letter frequencies.

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Flame

Standards. Ah Yes

"Standards are wonderful because there's so many to choose from" Rear Admiral Grace Hopper (attrib)

"...systems such as Ireland's or Australia's, which do not link into others, have remained wider than standard."

Ummm, in the case of Oz, not quite, actually. According to Wikipedia (Yes, I know. Sorry) :-

* Standard gauge – 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) 17,678 km - mainly New South Wales and the interstate rail network.

* Narrow gauge (Cape gauge) – 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) 15,160 km - mainly Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania as well as some of South Australia

* Broad gauge (Irish gauge) – 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in) 4,017 km - mainly Victoria, some South Australia, some New South Wales

This leads to the conclusion that the 'wider than standard' comes in at only ~11% of the total track in the country.

Hope that helps...

Icon shows good old coal-fired steam train action!

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Imperial vs metric

Frankly I don't care what you want to use. I like to buy cheese in pounds, beer in pints, petrol in gallons and measure my journeys in miles.

The idea that we should go metric because it is 'easy to convert' is wrong. Changing m to mm by multiplying by a thousand is wrong. It might be easy but it is wrong. Many fail to understand, if you tell me it is 100 metres to the zoo I will expect it to be something close to 100m, probably within 1m. If you tell me its 100.5 metres then I expect within 0.25m, if you tell me its 100000mm then I expect it plus or minus around a mm. This implies a huge difference in the accuracy.

Imperial measures are good because they are very 'human', an inch about the legth of your thumb (rule of thumb), a foot about the size of your foot, a yard a short stride/length of your arm, a mile a thousand strides (well vaguely from history).. The important thing is that I would have to work very hard to convert miles to inches, and good job to, as they are usedd for measuring very different things.

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@Dave 15

"Imperial measures are good because they are very 'human', an inch about the legth of your thumb (rule of thumb),"

An inch-long thumb, how did we ever evolve?

'Rule' of thumb' goes back to the good old days when we could beat wives with a stick, as long as it was no thicker than your thumb.

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Pint

No

No, you don't - at least if you're in the UK (unsure about the pints though).

You might ask for a pound of cheese but you'll get about 450 g.

Stores can only used certified weights/scales - and only standard (metric) ones are certified.

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Confusion

Dave 15, you are confusing accuracy and precision. Please do a degree in physics. Or read the Wikipedia article on the subject, horrible though it is...

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The real measurements are already SI.

The Empire has fallen. And a good thing too.

For instance,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inch

"From July 1, 1959, the United States and countries of the British Commonwealth defined the length of the international yard to be exactly 0.9144 metres. Consequently, the international inch is defined as exactly 25.4 millimetres. "

Your thumb is now defined in x 0.1 mm, possibly since before you were born.

Perhaps mistakenly, I believe that this also applies to standard weights and measures used commercially. That when someone comes round from Trading Standards to check that the thumb on your scale is the correct dimension, the scales are calibrated on an SI specification, even if the measurement that you sell in is ancient Roman or something.

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@Dave 15

Here's an envelope and a pencil. Do some exponent arithmetic using imperial measurements ... perhaps calculate an electrical charge ... then get back to us on the relative ease of metric and imperial measurements. People argue that metric measurements make things simpler because [shocked face] metric measurements make things simpler.

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re: Imperial vs metric

I really don't understand how it is easier to recall that there are twelve inches in a foot and 16 ounces in a pound and, for example, that water weighs around 62 pounds per cubic foot and, therefore, about 8 pounds per gallon (US) which, in turn, is around 0.13368 cubic feet. The same type of thing in metric means that water weighs about 1000KG per square Meter, therefore 1KG per liter which, in turn, is 10 centimeters squared.

The above matters not if you're buying a pint of beer compared to a few CCs, and doesn't really matter if you're buying a bag of apples -- but it does matter if you're working out how much water you need in your ballast tanks, for example.

There's a reason that the scientific community is moving to metric, and it's not some conspiracy to make things harder...

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Upvoted you

but fortunately a metre is very close to a yard

"A metre measures 3 ft 3 it's longer than a yard you see"

or measuring draper style instead of from finger tips to nose, turn your head a little to the side.

(obviously only works with standard sized humans)

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Headmaster

@Cameron Colley

>>1KG per liter which, in turn, is 10 centimeters squared.

1Kg per litre ... 10cm (centimetres) cubed.

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imperial measurements of distance expressed in feet

imperial measurements of distance expressed, what sort of a half arsed system is that?

thou - 1/12000 ft

inch - 1/12 ft

link - 7.62 inches

foot -

yard - 3 ft

fathom - 6.06 ft or 1/1000 of a nautical mile

rod - 25 links or 66/4 ft also sometimes called a pole or a perch

chain - 4 rods or 66 feet or 1/10 of a furlong

cable - 100 fathoms or 608 ft

furlong - 10 chains or 660 ft

mile - 8 furlongs or 5280 ft

league - 3 miles

links rods chains and furlongs are particularly interesting as that are expressed in terms of each other.

The only way you could make this worse is to use roman numerals.

Until our number system is redefined so that e and pi are integers I’m going to continue to use the linguine, the double decker bus and the campbell as units of measurement

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Facepalm

@vagabondo

Yup, should have proof read -- no idea why I was thinking square.

The spelling of "meter" is 'mirkin because I felt like it, by the way.

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Links

1 link = 7.92 inches (202 mm) and it was actually a link in a chain.

it was part of a surveyors measurement :

100 links to a chain

10 chains to a furlong

An area 1 furlong by 1 chain is 1 acre

It's a decimal system!

(An 1 inch of rainfall is roughly 100 tons of water per acre - handy for farmers)

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Trollface

@Imperial Dave

"Imperial measures are good because they are very 'human', an inch about the legth of your thumb"

And having 12 thumbs makes base 12 arithmetic easy...

inches, feet, yards and miles are all distances, different scales to make the numbers manageable.

mm, cm, m, km, ditto, and the maths is decimal, like I learned since I was...

...knee-high ;-)

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Happy

1,802,617,500,000 furlongs per fortnight,

it's not just a good idea, it's The Law.

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Megaphone

I fought the avalanche

............and the avalanche won.

Standard methodologies are just that - standard - the terminology doesn't suggest mandatory and indeed suggests non-universal by definition.

There is no point at which standards become mandatory - the two concepts are utterly alien to each other. The standard way of doing things may become the legal way of doing things but it is false logic to see the latter as an extension of the former.

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Alert

Have you ever been in a standards body?

"But to insist upon a standard being the start of the process is to assume (and with human beings and their productions, this isn't a good starting assumption) that we've got it right at the beginning."

You find multiple warring parties, each trying to make its product *the* standard because the standard is being written *after* the fact and each party has a strong vested interest in not co-operating.

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Coat

standard body

that would be 1 Elle Macpherson then

Mines the one with the designer lingerie in the pocket

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Doesn't even need to be AFTER the fact.

Just the reality that somebody stands to have an advantage over a competitor makes them just as bad even when they ARE meeting before the technology has been adopted. The fights over whether gold or lead should be the standard electrical connectors when I was tech writing for a start-up consortium were true long knife fights. Worst part was, in the end it was a good bit like deciding whether you were driving on the right or left side of the road, at least from the technical standpoint.

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Iberian gauge

The trains in Spain run mostly on the plain, sorry, I mean Iberian gauge. Some trains are equipped with variable gauge axles allowing them to run on standard gauge as well.

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Iberian gauge

Iberian broad gauge is used in Portugal too.

The new high speed lines in Spains were mainly built to standard gauge. Some Talgo trains have variable axles so they can run on both standard and Iberian gauge. The technology has been there since the 1960's when the first Catalan Talgo trainsets were introduced with a gauge changing facility near Port Bou (Spanish/French border). The original Catalan Talgo ran from Barcelona to Genève. Later is was cut to Montpellier where a change to the TGV is provided.

What the article misses are the different loading gauges even if the rail gauges are the same. The British loading gauge means that trains are narrower and lower than in continental Europe. No doulbe decker trains in the UK therefore.

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Sometimes, less is more...

This article feels like a troll, and I probably shouldn't throw some bait to it, but...

The problem with having multiple standards is that - much as with natural language - there's several costs incurred when converting and/or switching between them. The most obvious of which are time (i.e. the time needed to carry out the conversion) and accuracy (e.g. treating an inch as 2.5cm rather than 2.54cm).

In other words, there's a measurable cost associated with using multiple standards - and an equally measurable risk of mistakes being made. And as far as I can see, there's no real benefits to having multiple standards (unlike natural - and programming - languages, where it's often possible to express something in a clearer and/or more concise fashion in language A than in language B - and vice versa).

If someone can think of a genuinely good reason to have multiple standards, then I'll be all ears!

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Alert

Pate?

Really? Scalps by the livre, or do you mean pâté?

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IT Angle

The reason to go metric is.....

...not entirely because it's easy to convert (see Dave 15's comment). The reason to go metric is because everyone else has done so. It's crazy to bring your children up to use a weights and measures system that no-one else uses. How are they going to get jobs in an increasingly international workplace if they're not intuitively familiar with how far is is to the next town in kilometres, or how much they (or other common items) weigh in kilograms?

Look at time. Everywhere in the world you can glance at a clock on a wall and know what the time is. Even if you don't speak, read or write Japanese and you're standing in Tokyo airport when you do so, you know when your plane is going to leave. Time isn't decimal, it's designed the way it is to break the day into convenient chunks, but we all do it the same. That's why it's fine to be non-decimal in a mostly decimal world.

Metric weights and measures do happen to be decimal, but their strength is that everyone uses them. Britain's problem is that idiot tabloid papers have discovered that wherever metric is mentioned there's plenty of sales of papers to be had by re-inventing the story as an "E.U plot against Britain". The result is that 40 years after every other Commonwealth country went metric, we're left with a mess - most obviously the fact that our road signs belong in a museum.

And as for Dave 15's claim that Imperial measures are good because they're based on parts of the body - well it's tosh! Measure 15 people's feet and you'll get 15 different lengths, none of which is likely to be an imperial foot. It's just a Roman import we got dumped with 2000 years ago (and was a quite different measurement back then anyway). Not a good basis for a "standard".

Mind you - what this story is doing on El Reg is anyone's guess. Slow news day guys?? :)

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