I've been struggling with the meanings of words again this week. Partly it's because I'm not a native US-English speaker, and partly it's because I tend to make wild assumptions about the way that the major IT hardware companies view their customers. I suppose I could buy a US-English to Queen's English phrase book to solve the first issue; and take more notice of website product reviews to resolve the second...
So, starting this week with a diatribe, consider how you would implement the web page for managing a device that allows you to specify optional settings (note the word "optional" - it's relevant later on). Let's assume that the setting in question is an IP address, and you provide four text boxes - one for each of the IPv4 sections of the address. And assume that you have added some client-side widget that validates the entries in each box and forces them to be a number between 0 and 255. All make sense so far?
Now remember the key word in this scenario: "optional". What happens when your users realize they made a mistake and want to remove the IP address? If you own a one of those routers that provide "a platform that is ready for service" (such as the 527W), what happens is that you can't. It seems like you are stuck with them for eternity (or until you toss the thing against the wall in frustration). You can't delete them. If you disable scripting and Java stuff the page doesn’t work at all. And, before you ask, the most recent firmware upgrade doesn’t fix it - in fact it doesn't even mention it in the "Known Issues" document. Neither is there a mention of it anywhere I can find searching the web. Obviously I'm the only person in the world who has ever tried to do this.
Ah, but when you go to the router's support site you get a nice pop-up Chat box so you can ask your question. And their answer? Here's an abridged version: "To get support from us you need a support contract. If you had purchased it from one of our partners you could get advice from them, but as it was purchased from Amazon there is no support unless you take out a support contract. Unfortunately you have chosen to buy from a grey market." I wonder if Amazon knows that they are a "grey market". And who would buy a support contract for a router than costs less than $200 ?
Anyway, after I finally decided to do a full reset and completely reconfigure it (there was no wall nearby to throw it at) I discovered that setting the optional DNS entries to 0.0.0.0 means that the router will just ignore them. All I can say is that it would have been nice to see this mentioned in the manual...
But I guess I should get to the original point of this post and mention my "US-English" problem. In between the tasks of my day job I've been creating some exercises that describe using Web Matrix to build a reasonably full-featured website for a soccer club. The topic of soccer wasn't my idea - it was part of the brief and I assume it's because soccer has a more universal international appeal than (American) football.
I realize that they call it "soccer" in the US to differentiate it from their version of "football" where you actually carry the ball around rather than kicking it - a bit like playing rugby in a suit of armour (or should I say "armor" - you can see how difficult this gets). What I didn’t realize is that in the US they have also changed all of the words associated with soccer. It's like it's been US-ized so that common soccer-related terms are made to sound like rude words.
The obvious example was the horror that spread across reviewers faces as they read about the fact that the players were trying out "a new team strip". I think they had visions of all the players running around naked. And when they came to the bit about "coping with a muddy pitch" they asked what the players were pitching for, or if I meant they picked the ball up and threw it. And when I talked about a "local derby", they asked if there were horses on the pitch as well...like it had morphed into some strange kind of polo match.
Likewise, when a news item on the site revealed that they were moving to a new clubhouse "due to a local road improvement scheme", I was told that something is a "scheme" only when there is nefarious or illegal activity going on. And that the list showing upcoming "fixtures" sounded like it should be full of things you nail on a wall or screw to the floor.
I wonder if it's time we took a stand and against all this. Though that probably reads like I want somewhere for the spectators to congregate to watch the match. Even though, in a "stand", you actually sit down. Oh well, I suppose it's all our (Queen's-English) fault really...