There are many advantages to be gained from developing consistant common connection of components of computer hardware and software. A list that is only growing, but perhaps the most important of these advantages is that of decreasing the cost to the consumer while increasing consumer ease of use, versatility and level of productivity. These advantages alone will lead to increasing the user base of computers, if for any reason, the consumer is getting more productive value for their money. Hardware connectivity: ====================== Enclosures: ----------- For the end user, modularity and versatility of enclosures become more of a support issue than a package design issue. But with a well thought out enclosure design, beneficial modularity and versatility can be added with little additional cost. Image of a modular system Enclosure developers: Although it's up to the enclosure developers to produce such versatile and modular enclosures and up to the end user to let them know they want it, there is another party between the enclosure developer and the consumer that influences wheither or not such enclosures are produced and used. This is the party of computer system manufactures, who produce complete systems, perhaps doing some customer customization in the process. There are also many small shops, who build from parts, complete systems usually to the customer specifications. But if these parties between the enclosure developers and end users choose not to support such enclosures, then the enclosure developers are locked out of providing the end user with such versatile and modular enclosures. However, what is really happening here is those who prevent the use of such enclosures, are in effect keeping value away from the consumer while also forcing the consumer to absorb any additional cost and expenses from not having such additional value. To make the move from the enclosure we have today to a modular set there is the reality of market competition to consider. Ultimately, as there has been with internal expansion boards, there will evolve standards to meet if you want your enclosures to be compatable with a specific modular set. Popularity, sales is ultimately what sets these standards. With a well designed modular enclosure set the list of advantages in versatility and productivity only grows, but only so well as such enclosure are made available to the public, manufactures and small shops that will make use of them. There is also the following issue to consider in the design of such enclosures. Electronic Connection: ---------------------- To evolve computer hardware component modularity for consumer ease of connectivity, the need to establish a standard connector between components becomes important. Such a connector only needs to provide connectivity between enclosures, but to provide enough connectivity to handle any reasonable number of connection possibilities. There are different platforms types and different internal and external connection types, but such a connector need not be concerned with these differences, so long as it provides enough connectivity to handle the differences. But most important, this connector is to allow user ease of connectivity between hardware components. Electronic Hardware engineering: As the computer industry has evolved there has also evolved standards in the dimensions of electronic hardware components, more so internal than external components. The enclosures though designed with these dimensions in mind, often have an outer design as a matter of appeal rather than of modular support. Stand alone units either have internals electronic dimensions directly fitting standard internal dimensions or have a counter part version that does. Electronic hardware engineers are focused on what the electronics will do, not what they look like to the consumer. And it's these engineers who will continue to bring new value potential to the consumer. Who knows what these engineers will bring us tomarrow, but we do know that it'll fit within standard dimensions and make standard electronic connections to other components. Otherwise such a engineer would only limit their potential market and sales. Custom Hardware Configuration Services: In applying the user oriented component modularity of the above along with application of true "plug and play" autoconfiguration, the custom hardware configuration services could be greatly reduced and there could also be some reduction in cable sales. But the growing list of advantages far out-weights this reduction. Simply put, the consumer dollar can be better spent in more productive directions that better contribute to the evolution of computer technology. By reducing the cost of custom hardware configuration services, cabling, and perhaps most important (*) the non-productive, stressful and frustrating down time of a system due a single component failure, the consumer will not only have money to spend elsewhere but will feel better about their productivity focus and the computer industry in general. Giving the user the versatility to easily reconfiguration their system for their current needs, will only help to improve the consumer perspective of the computer industry. On the upside of moving to a modular enclosure set, the customizing services could be the ones to convert or originally package (install) the hardware into modular enclosures. This is of course for the majority of consumers who don't have the time and/or confidence to do it themselves. Though one of the objectives of such enclosures is to provide the consumer with ease of doing it themselves, the reconfiguring of their system, once their hardware is installed in such enclosures. (* Today when a component of a system fails, one internal to the enclosures of today, the whole system must be shut down and serviced, causing loss of time being productive with otherwise working components. External enclosure modularity also leads to quicker replacement of faulty components). Software Connectivity: ====================== Without question software is the point of providing the end user with an interface for controlling the hardware. In the same way modular hardware enclosures and connectivity can be applied to improve user productivity and attitude towards the computer industry, so can such changes towards modularity in software be applied. Software Engineering: The software development industries' direction has not been one of user oriented component modularity, but rather the pratice of continually either re-inventing wheels or selling the same wheel over and over again to the same consumer. These wheels are of course hidden from the consumer within anything new that the consumer buys. This pratice is destructive in many ways but overall it results in much leading to non-productive bulkiness and problems that ultimately cost the consumer much more than what the software developer received from the consumer. It is this re-inventing and selling again and again to the consumer, what the consumer already has, that the term "pseudo software engineering" finds it's reality based foundation. Geniune Software Engineering is not the pratice of re-inventing or even reselling the same wheels over and over to the same consumer, but the act of applying the science of building components of software that add value to the existing software component set. This of course requires the ability of software components (wheels) to be attachable to other components. Genuine Software Engineering consist of a high level of cross field integration consideration that leads to an equally high level of cross field versatility and connectivity. While the component results are solid, simple and cross field intuitive in usage. If you are a software developer who sees this as difficult or impossible to achieve, then you are a pseudo software engineer. But if you find this interesting and challenging, then you have the fundamental quality needed to pursue and help evolve geniune software engineering. To support this definition of "Genuine Software Engineering", regarding a high level of cross field integration consideration, consider the following link: The Cathedral and the Bazaar - by Eric S. Raymond Connectivity between software components can be achieved thru several methods, depending on your system and usage level. Command line redirection, API's and IPC message ports such as what AREXX makes use of. Command line redirection is familar to those who use command shells. APIs' (Application Programming Interface) are programmer based interfaces while AREXX style IPC message ports are user accessable interfaces. These user accessable interfaces may be accessable thru the programmer based APIs' but a programs APIs' may or may not be available thru the IPC (AREXX) user accessable interfaces. However, none of these methods of connectivity are, or at least have not been made to be, very friendly to the typical end user. Perhaps the lack of having typical end user friendliness of these connectivity methods is only a matter of not yet having a powerful enough tool. A tool to access text based resources, in a common dictionary style format, using intuitive and automatic depth structuring of resource access and usage (as may be described in terms of accessing a Thesaurus' "Plan Of Classification" and "Tabular Synopsis Of Categories"). A tool that allows the end user to easily build their own connection vocabulary definitions using existing definition vocabulary(s). Custom Software Developers: The custom software developers are the ones who take on such programming jobs the general public doesn't likley see much of, but can end up paying for thru taxes and/or increased product/service prices. These are often the larger programming projects of government and the larger businesses. These are the projects most of the money spent in the software industry goes towards. Given the above "pseudo software engineering" base, it's little wonder that such large projects can and often do either go into cost over-runs or get cancelled after a good bit of money has already been spent in development. Again it's the consumer who can and often does end up paying for the failures and cost over-runs of large projects they may never see or even hear about. Perhaps there is a solution to be found in the same tool that would allow the typical end user easy connectibility access and usage. Text based resources and intuitive automated depth structuring of resource access and usage? Could such a tool be used to evolve an envirnoment of automated programming? I think so and to reach a level usable to large custom project development would mean the development of smaller publicly available products would be well on their way of being produced thru such a development environment. End Users in development: The end user knows best how they might change, customize or otherwise streamline the interface(s) they use. Only they haven't been given a consistant common tool that allows them to do these things themselves. Much of the arguement found here is that the end user is typically not educated enough in computer technology and logic to be able to properly do so. However, on the other hand it's the end users that tell the programmer what they need, perhaps never getting it, and even helping to identify bugs. If the end user could only tap into the resources of programming to learn and do, the end user would not only be able to better communicate with programmers but would have the ability to create what they want that programmer did not add. But again there is a matter of a tool and even more so a resource base. General Connectivity: ===================== User Education: With the coming changes in hardware and software component modularity and connectivity, there also comes a need for user education. Mostly in just changing the mind set as to how computers are used. Platform Specific: It's up to developers, hardware and software, to bridge this gap for the end user. But it's even more so up to the end users to persistantly let the developers know to make these changes. Conclusion: ----------- By improving the overall consumer perception of and influence in the industry, the consumer will not only become more active and spend more, but have more to spend towards evolving the technology, rather than on customization and repair issues.
Copyright © 1975, 1988, 1994, 1996, 1997 Timothy V. Rue