Disc Debate

Published in EUG #59

I'm with Alan Richardson [Mailbag, EUG #58 - Ed] on this one, although I must admit I don't practice what I preach. Nowadays I use "DISK" nearly all the time, mainly because in the Microsoft-dominated world where I work, people constantly pull me up for using "DISC". "It's short for diskette!" is what they all shout. So I use "DISK" to keep the peace and now I can't break the habit.

I read Acorn User and I've just taken a look over the last couple of issues and both are used. In last month's edition (June 2001), "DISK" and "DISC" appear on the same page! From what I can see they seem to publish whichever version is favoured by the particular author. So basically, if you write an article or letter for AU and use "DISK" then that is what will be published and I think this is perhaps where EUG should be going. I've just had a quick scan through the early EUG mags and, while the paper issues were liberally dosed with "DISC", when converted to floppy, all now say "DISK".

As for the use of #, I personally have never understood it. In fact, until it was pointed out that it meant No. (as in the abbreviation for number), I didn't think it particularly meant anything and couldn't see a purpose. What's wrong with EUG Issue xx or perhaps EUG Iss xx or even simply EUG xx?

Right, well I'm off now to see how EUG #6, #7 and #8 are shaping up!

John Crane

The last line of John's letter above kind of symbolises my editorial policy regarding how issues of EUG have come to be expressed within the magazine itself. In his original draft, it reads "EUG 6, 7 and 8", using the system he suggests in the paragraph above. But, although I have no problem with promoting his suggestion, I much prefer standardisation across all the "bodies" of text in the Mailbag where EUG issues are mentioned.

A largish part of my time as Editor is spent standardising the upcoming issue in order to make the magazine as professional as possible, and I have extended this standardisation to all back issues. The old days when the EUG menu called files that didn't exist and articles appeared in the wrong order (if they appeared at all!) are gone. Any articles too long to load into memory are split into parts; any spelling mistakes are corrected; any layouts not corresponding to this style are rectified.

"DISK" and "EUG #xx" were just two of the changes decided upon during this standardisation process. As noted in EUG #58 however, it appears "DISK" is not in line with the Acorn world and, to give effect to Alan's protests, the observant of you will notice that, this issue, "DISC" appears throughout.

I went into why the hash sign should be retained in EUG #58 but yet another reason is that, due to the standardisation, it is now present in every last issue. While "DISC", as the Acorn-approved spelling, deserves rectification, the hash argument is just quibbling over semantics. It was used originally to replace old Mailbag sentences such as "I was reading in June's issue of EUG..." with something more easily referable (i.e. "I was reading in EUG #16...") to aid new back issue readers to locate the article the writer had been reading about. The footers containing the source of each smattering of text were added for the same reason. Yes, I could have written "EUG 16..." but I didn't because all the new issues had the hash sign so I kept them expressing EUG issues in the same way.

The idea that the spelling of disc should change depending on the author of the article is similarly a minefield to standardisation. As you point out, in last month's Acorn User, the two spellings are used on the same page. I wonder whether they are both used in the same article. Not that I underestimate the writing skills of EUG contributors but there will be some who use the words interchangeably in continuous prose and my job as Editor is to smarten up their submission. If they have used both "disk" and "disc" then, published this way, their article will look sloppy - and people may then accuse me of not choosing one format and sticking to it.

Why do I suspect that someone is going to take a sledgehammer to this reply?

Finally, although disc versions of EUGs #7 and #8 will be with you by the time you read this, EUG #6 is currently delayed due to unforeseen difficulties. Hopefully it will be (re-)released in time for Christmas 2001; one will sent out to you as soon as it is completed.

Dave E

John Crane