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Thursday, October 28, 2004

The Language of Computers

I normally bumble through life being able to explain things quite accurately.

But things sometimes go a little bit awry when you are talking about computers. Many terms used in computing and internetting are borrowed from the real world, and the possibility for confusion is enormous. Words such as virus, banner, model, keyboard all have very different meanings in real life.

A couple of real-world examples...

I had a potential client ask me if we could produce models of buildings and landscapes. I said yes, we could do that. She asked me if she could see some examples, and a few days later I gave her a CD containing some animated fly-bys and walk-throughs that we'd done using 3D modelling software. She looked at them and said 'they're very nice, but where can I see the original models?' Mucho confusion - she was after physical architectural models, we were offering the computer-generated equivalent.

Another potential client contacted us asking for information on banners. We do do animated advertising banners for placement on websites, and asked the guy for a bit more information, such as what sizes he wanted, where would they be positioned etc. He came back and said 'size about 3 metres by .6 metres, for use at village fetes etc'. It's quite astonishing - he had approached us because we have a dedicated page on our website about advertising banners, and we think it's made quite clear that these are digital thingies for use on websites. We passed his enquiry on to a large-format printer chappie, and we hope he eventually got what he wanted.

A hypothetical example...
Doctor, I've got a virus.

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