A Standard of Effort

By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant
By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant

WE celebrate World Standards Day each year on the 14th day of October, and should reflect on the things that we take for granted when using computers and computing systems. The work done by international standards bodies, with names such as: ISO, IEEE, and IEC, is absolutely essential to the safe and seamless use of everyday computing equipment.

Standards apply to both hardware and software components of your computer system. For instance, when you send a document to be printed, you are relying on several standards, including:
* The USB cable or other network connection to the printer;
* The data signal sent by your computer to the printer;
* The size of the paper used in the printer;
* The electrical power requirements of the printer.

If you replace the USB cable, the printer, or even the computer, you can still remain confident that your print job will correctly appear when you press the “print” button. That assurance is very important. A deviation from those standard would cause you to experience some problems.

Recently, I was asked to deliver a presentation to an audience in a conference room. I had saved a back-up copy of my presentation to a USB memory device. I also printed a copy just-in-case, and I even walked with my own laptop! I was prepared to successfully deliver my presentation. I was unprepared for all the American-style wall sockets in the room, which did not allow me to plug-in my computer. The room wiring was clearly wrong, especially since I was using the standard 3-pin plug used in Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, the United Kingdom and other territories. That standard plug is also known by the names: IEC type G, and BS 1363.

It was nothing short of a mockery of our standards, to be in a location supporting a national standard, but unable to use a simple power plug. Something was basically wrong, where the national standard was entirely replaced by something else. Fortunately my laptop was fully-charged, so that problem was averted. Have you had a similar experience of being let-down by the lack of adherence to standards?

To share your views, standard or powerful, contact the author at: www.datashore.net or via The VOICE.

About the Author
Dr. Lyndell St. Ville is the Owner/Chief Technology Officer of Datashore, an ICT consultancy based in Saint Lucia, which advises on data management, business information systems, and health information systems.

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