3Cs' - Consistant Common Connection

copyright 1997 - by Timothy Rue

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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:
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Enclosures:
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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:
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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:
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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:
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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.




Email: timrue@mindspring.com

Copyright © 1975, 1988, 1994, 1996, 1997 Timothy V. Rue