A CDE Definition
One could write volumes about the thoughtless naming of technical concepts and products in this industry. And not just products; the careless naming of routines and statements in the source code programmers write causes massive headaches later when others try to read it. Not to be forgotten is the constant renaming of the same application by marketers who believe new names mean new business.
Never Use Ordinary Words
The greatest debacle is perpetrated when everyday words are used for specific technologies. "Object" is a very useful English word because it can describe any "object" whatsoever. When object-oriented programming was the hot buzzword years ago, "object" had to be stricken from the English language when writing about software development in order to not imply object technologies.
The same problem occurred with "component" in component software, once again taking a common word and turning it into something specific. Web services is another example, which can refer to any generic offering on the Web or to specific interfaces between applications and Web servers.
A while back, Microsoft used the broad term "automation" to mean functions within applications such as Excel and Word that could be executed. To avoid confusion, one had to be careful not to use the term in a generic way when writing about Microsoft products.
Yet another was the "PC Card." Was it a card that plugged into a PC or a PCMCIA PC Card for a laptop? When "PC Card" was introduced, it was so misleading that people said "P-C-M-C-I-A card" instead, pronouncing all seven letters. Thank goodness that technology is history.
Generic naming has made it extremely difficult for technical writers who care about clarity. For the most part, hardware and software vendors are downright clueless.
The worst naming ever was "intranet." In a classroom environment, the instructor had to strongly emphasize the "tra" in in-tra-net versus the "ter" in In-ter-net. Listening was painful. Fortunately, "intranet" has been replaced with plain old "LAN" most of the time.
Famous Names - Who Needs Them?
Marketing hype is often more important than clever marketing. Overwhelmed by the Web frenzy, Novell took NetWare, a brand known the world over and renamed it "IntranetWare." Not only did the most familiar name in networking disappear, but the word was hard to pronounce. Novell soon switched back to NetWare. Similarly, Borland, a software company widely known throughout the industry, changed its name to Inprise and buried another familiar name. Later on, it reverted back to Borland.
Let's Confuse Everyone!
The way a person interacts with a computer, tablet, smartphone or other electronic device. The user interface (UI) comprises the screen menus and icons, keyboard shortcuts, mouse and gesture movements, command language and online help, as well as physical buttons, dials and levers. Also included are the physical components, such as the mouse, keyboard, touchscreen, remote and game controllers.
The Bar Was Set Low
The user interface is the most important, yet least-understood area in the computer industry. Every application has only a handful of basic functions that users need all the time, yet they are often buried in arcane submenus that must be memorized. Worse yet, once bad examples are set by major vendors, others follow like sheep. Since popular applications are often hard to learn, users have come to expect that using software has to be difficult, when in fact, it could be downright simple if educated designers were involved. One shining light is the smartphone. Its small screen tends to force designers to think about usability more than ever, but sadly not all do (see good user interface).
Users Are Reluctant to Change
Because of the steep learning curves people have to endure, many are disinclined to change applications. While the software industry constantly touts "productivity gains" for every new product, the lost hours figuring out how to do something, combined with the gun-shy reluctance to actually try a different product that might really be an improvement often impede productivity.
Ask and Ye Shall Receive
Voice and natural language input and verbal output are increasingly standard components of the user interface, and they can be an enormous help. However, recognizing human speech and delivering the proper action is a daunting computational task. Sometimes the results people get are fraught with errors and downright laughable. Nevertheless, improvements are expected every year in this arena (see virtual assistant). See RTFM, user experience, naming fiascos, Freedman's law, flat design, Web rage, HCI and HMI.
It Can Change World History
Give Us A Break!
Read the Manual (RTFM)
Keep the Elevator Door Open
A Century of Experience Didn't Help
It Was 2013. Or Was It?
I Thought My Phone Was a Note II
Da Fup What??
OK. Bad Formula. But Where?
Even Worse for the Technician
Remotes Are No Exception
Before/After Your Search Term
|name mangling||naming service|
|name space||NAND flash|
|Named Pipes||nanny software|
Terms By Topic
Click any of the following categories for a list of fundamental terms.