Disc: The Last Word

By John Crane

Originally published in EUG #60

The Disc/Disk debate. For the record, the page in question in Acorn User where both spellings were apparent were two different articles by two different people. Each stuck to their own version and that was my point. Obviously if the writer were to use both in the same article without any obvious reason then that would appear odd but that is not my general perception.

I don't wish to get entrenched in this but to me standardisation of the written word can, if you're not careful, start to get "big brother 1984"-ish. I'm all for correcting obvious mistakes such as 'karutt' instead of 'carrot' (or indeed 'carat', depending on the context). However, where there is the possibility that either one of two spellings could be deemed correct and the author has a perference, then I think this should be left 'as is'.

Where do you draw the line? Who proof reads EUG? The 8BS magazine used to be edited by Chris Richardson and then proof read and, if necessary, then corrected by others. Who checks grammar? The Ed himself used 'infer' in the recent review on the Electron video when he actually meant 'imply'. If I infer something, I form an opinion on something I've heard or read. The text or whatever implies something. The reader or listener infers. It's subtle but there is a difference.

Standardisation is something that current Acorn (RISC OS) users are constantly fighting against. Bill Gates wants everyone to use WINDOWS and MS products. We may not want to but it can be very hard to get to some places on the WWW if you do not have Internet Explorer or can't fool the site you're visiting into thinking that you have.

If the past disc versions of EUG have now all been 'standardised', I believe Dave has done us all a disfavour. #0 to #8, which were converted from paper, fine, make them electronic so they can be put on a website or whatever. But #9 onwards, apart from correcting obvious mistakes (like a call to a file in the wrong place) should be left as they are. EUG has evolved and they are a reflection of that. Historical, if you like. You wouldn't expect Acorn User to reprint all its back catalogue in the modern format, would you?

Sorry this is turning into a bit of a rant, but you've touched a bit of a nerve here.

I have been a member of EUG since around #7 or #8 and a fairly regular contributor. I occasionally look back at my past articles and think "God, did I write that?! I'm sure I could have put such and such better!" However, if I was to rewrite some of these and ask for the original to be replaced, I have then 'damaged' the original. Censored it even. It is not original!

Dave and others have been critical of Gus but, leaving aside any shortcomings he may have had, he published things 'warts and all'. I think he respected people's little ways and went out of his way to avoid appearing censorius. I know censorship is one of his pet hates. Perhaps if he's still around, he'd like to comment.

EUG has always had 'standards' as against 'standardisation', but I venture to suggest that Dave has broken these long-standing 'rules' (for want of better words). Double-spaced paragraphs, which I still put in, he takes out. Name and address details in one line across the bottom of a letter, I still do and Dave always alters. 'Correcting' items and so forth. All these were given as advice in the EUG info file from #22 to #50. Dave took over at #45 and left the 'help' file in but did not adhere to what would, to new members at the time, seem like his own advice. The EUG info file was changed from EUG #51 onwards, with all references to leaving lines between paragraphs, etc, removed.

All I'm saying is beware, "...the road to hell is paved with good intent."

Well, anyway. Good to get that off my chest. What does everyone else think?

John Crane

The conclusion of the debate over whether we should we write disc or disk in EUG appears answered by that old adage "You can't please all of the people all of the time". Until Alan Richardson argued the case for 'disc', 'disk' was being used in all articles. In fact, your original letter used the 'k' spelling (It's been edited above!)! As it is I who writes (and proof reads) the majority of the documentation in EUG, and I also would use 'disk' under your suggestion, the magazine would simply return to using 'disk' everywhere! We'd be right back to square one.

As you suspect, all of the back issues of EUG have now been 'standardised' (and faults on them corrected), up to and including EUG #59. I am quick to add though that I have not altered any of the documentation, articles or reviews submitted by readers. They have merely been 'shuffled' into this layout, spellchecked and given a title. This is the editorial process, not censorship. If you take a look at www.8bs.com (where many EUG discs are available to download), you will note the new format greatly assists you in locating a particular article or letter, as well as making all text more readable.

Your point is, of course, that these changes have destroyed the 'originality' of the first release disc and so done us a disfavour. You suggest the only changes that should have been made were to menus that called files that didn't exist. But where do you stand on whole discs that didn't work on the Electron with PAGE at &1D00 (and yes, there was more than one!)? Articles that were too long to fit into the Elk's memory? Games where only half of the files were published? To tweak the new versions to be compatible with each and every BBC and Elk machine and disc system involved more code - but it needed (finally) to be included. The real disfavour would have been to allow new readers to buy back issues where the faults were known but which hadn't been corrected!

Not only were many utilities and games incomplete, the 'rules' on submitting text to EUG were very rarely followed. All kinds of strange CHR$ crept into the text files and were not removed before publication. Perhaps the true EUG fanatic (if there is such a thing) would rather have the 'warts' but, with the back issues now destined for a different and much larger audience, I suspect the person with a casual interest in the BBC series would choose the 'user-friendliness' of the new standardised versions hands down.

Dave E
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