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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  1. Volker Hett
    Thumb Down

    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.

  2. Naughtyhorse

    what utter tosh!

    trolls writing articles again reg?

  3. paulc

    whatever happens,....

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

  4. Some Beggar
    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.

  5. Spanners Silver badge

    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.

  6. Mike Pellatt

    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.

    1. Ru


      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        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.

        1. Captain TickTock

          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"

        2. Some Beggar

          @AC 12:50 GMT

          Citation needed.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            What AC at 12:50?

        3. Anonymous Coward

          US English? Microsoft?

          They don't even speak it, do they?

          Or any other kind of English.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      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,

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Some Beggar

        @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.

        1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
          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

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          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?

          1. Some Beggar


            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

            1. Grease Monkey

              @Some Beggar

              Back to the OED:

              Joke (n.)

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


              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.

    4. VeganVegan

      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.

  7. drongo

    Tune in for the next episode ... ®

    No, I'd rather not thanks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  8. Ru

    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.

  9. Pete B

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

    Best reason of the lot for standards then.

  10. Captain TickTock

    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.

  11. Trollslayer Silver badge

    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.

  12. Magani

    Standards. Ah Yes

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

    " 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!

  13. Dave 15

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      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.

    2. Kwac

      @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.

    3. Anonymous IV
      Thumb Down


      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...

    4. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      The real measurements are already SI.

      The Empire has fallen. And a good thing too.

      For instance,

      "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.

    5. Some Beggar

      @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.

    6. Cameron Colley

      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...

      1. vagabondo

        @Cameron Colley

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

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

        1. Cameron Colley


          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.

    7. graeme leggett

      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)

      1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

        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

        1. graeme leggett


          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)

        2. Anonymous Coward

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

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

    8. Captain TickTock

      @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 ;-)

  14. Colin Millar

    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.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    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.

    1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

      standard body

      that would be 1 Elle Macpherson then

      Mines the one with the designer lingerie in the pocket

    2. Tom 13

      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.

  16. juice Bronze badge

    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!

  17. Michael Souris


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

  18. Steve Hosgood
    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?? :)

  19. Dom 3

    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.

    1. Terry H

      Want to jump off that bridge?

      I always love this argument! We should do it because everyone else does. That's exactly the opposite argument used by parents, to wit

      "If your friends jumped off a bridge would you?"

      The correct answer to the parental unit is always no. The correct answer to your teen peers is "hell yeah!"

      I modestly dislike the metric system for a corollary to Dave 15. The base unit of measure is not convenient to daily human life.

      Freezing at 0 makes WAY more sense. But then 100 degrees to boiling is not granular enough.

      A gram is too damn light. An ounce is barely big enough.

      A liter is a quart. That's OK, but quarts are why we measure most things in gallons.

      And the infamous Meter! Aka the yard. Only the Navy ever thought yards were a good idea. It is just an annoying measurement. Too long to wield around comfortably, too short to get anywhere without breaking into scientific notation. But the millimeter will save us! Now wait, where the hell did my mm go? I think it slipped into the crack between the tiles. On the other end of the scale we have the kilometer - aka Girlie Mile. When you just can't go the whole distance!

      Fun Fact: International Aviation standards use Celsius temperatures, but KNOTS in speed. That's because for all the pissing and moaning, only the nautical mile has any relation to the planet it is laid upon - note the meter would, except they botched the math worse than most folk would have though humanly possible.

      So overall the order of magnitude scaling is nice. But had they chosen some better base units it would have been a lot better. It is like there really was a committee just like UTC! The French wanted TUC the English wanted UCT so we settled on UTC so everyone can be equally unhappy, and the acronym of course makes no bloody sense at all.

      But, it is nice that you can try to hold the sinking Greek ship afloat with all those standard guage Germany widgets.

      1. Some Beggar

        Re: "I always love this argument!"

        Have you considered taking up a hobby?

    2. iMark

      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.

  20. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Horses for courses

    Metric is all well and good is you are trying to work out volumes of water or electrical charges - but if you need to know how many oxen you need to plough your garden you can't beat furlongs.

    For everything else there is of course the el'reg unified linguine/grapefruit/Jordan scale

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    friendly word of advice, Tim old son, ...

    Write about what you know about. Cheers

  22. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    That Geneva Convention

    If Scotland wants to drive on the right, it's going to have to declare independence. Even though there are no roads between Scotland and England, Wales, or Ireland. (Some parts of this paragraph are not true, but do you know which?)

    According to one web site, (other) British colonies "drove on the left, gradually changing to right-hand driving after independence." Wikipedia says "Over the course of the 20th century, there was a gradual worldwide shift from driving on the left to the right." It seems an awfully bad idea.

    I forget which one developing nation also announced sometime probably in the last couple of decades that they would have a changeover and it would be gradual... they may have meant, regulating the sale or use of wrong-side seated vehicles.

  23. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    US measurements and standards

    Field Marshal Von Krakenfart, you make it sound worse than it is. Not that I should be defending the nonsensical system we use in the US... but, links, rods, chains, and furlongs were based on using a chain as measurement (I'm not sure who used this). A link was the length of one link on the chain, and I assume the chain the length of the whole chain. Fathoms, cables, and knots were used navally and are rope-based; a knot would be tied in the rope at a certain distance apart, rope run out into the water, and the knots counted (a knot is 1 nautical mile per hour.)

    Links, rods, chains, and furlongs are not mixed with fathoms, cables, and nautical miles and these are not mixed with inches, feet, yards, and miles. I've never heard the term "thou", we just call them thousandths of an inch. Although, in keeping with twisted units, most smaller stuff (well, bolts and sockets) are half inch, quarter inch, sixteenth inch, with less used 32nd inch and 64th inch (rather than being given in 1/1000th of an inch). It's real entertaining to realize "oh the three eighths doesn't fit, I must need a seven sixteenth."

    Anyway... standards by law simply are no good. An example, internet protocols. No government intervention there. What did governments come up with? X.25, which worked certainly but wouldn't have allowed most of what the internet amounts to today. And ISO/OSI, which many have heard of as the 7 layer model, but you may not even be aware they tried to come up with a networking standard in the 1980s. It failed completely.

    Policies pushing for governments THEMSELVES to use standards are not necessarily a bad thing -- for instance, records from years back would be much easier to read now if they were in a RTF (Rich Text Format) than if they are in Wordperfect, AmiPro, or indeed even older Word format. At present, ODF would be a good way to go. I don't think any SPECIFIC format should be set in stone (legally) since the lawmakers would be too slow to react if some format suddenly "went out of favor" (for instance I doubt they'd want to STILL be using RTF now, but if it were enshrined in law they probably would be.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No, it's: The 3/8th doesn't work and neither does the 7/16th,

      so it must be one of those bloody metric wrenches I don't own!

  24. VeganVegan

    Surprised and disappointed

    Apparently nobody has weighed in with Bulgarian airbags, Wales and such.

    (I guess I just did).

    (Icon because of the complicated conversions involved).

  25. jake Silver badge

    Just to muddy the waters ...

    I've used ASL to communicate with non-English speaking people on six continents, often using ASL as a go-between when discussing technical issues :-)

    1. Captain TickTock


      It wouldn't have helped with deaf British people...

      Roll on a universal sign language.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @Captain TickTock

        Actually, Mr. Tick Tock, I've had no trouble using ASL in the British Isles ... Not that I generally need it in technical situations, mind ... But it's nice to have as an option :-)

        For the record, I'm not deaf ... but I do enjoy having the ability to communicate.

        1. Captain TickTock

          I suppose...

          A lot of signers must be bi-.. manual?

          And that's Captain to you, Arrr ;-)

          Beer, one in each hand.

  26. Captain TickTock

    And when are the shops really going to going metric?

    Selling in multiples of 454g and 568ml isn't metric...

    In Australia, they went straight to 600ml and 1L for milk.

    Beer is still sold in pubs in middies and schooners (1/2 & 3/4 pint). Bottled or canned beer is in round metric quantities

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I agree with the initial premise

    standards don't matter, as long as everyone knows what they are working in.

    Look at the measurement argument - OK metric is easier to deal with in that it is all decimal based, whereas imperial is all weird numbers that often bear no intuitive correlation to each other.

    But it doesn't matter. At all. If you are talking about vague estimates then having an accurate system is no better than an inaccurate system, and if absolute accuracy is required than it is unlikely that all the numbers are going to be exact factors anyway.

    Take the distance from London to Birmingham as an example. If you are talking about driving it you would say it is about 100 miles, or in metric about 160 Km. Which is close enough whatever system you want to use. However if you needed to accurately measure the distance, then you would have to say it is 101.556945832 miles, or 163,461.56 Metres, neither of which are that easy to deal with.

    Throw in the fact that time is not decimal, most water is not pure (so won't have a density of 1) and the Earth is both spherical and non-standard then you see that it is unpossible to be able to define many real-world situations in terms of whole numbers of metric units anyway.

    And the same for standards - back in the old days you would find most networks used NetBIOS for accessing Windows servers, IPX for the Netware, AppleTalk for the Apples and IP for unix (and quite often many more protocols for specialist kit) but everything worked quite well truth be told so why should it be any different now?

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