tech light

Tethered to a cloud

It must have been twenty years ago when Larry Ellison fascinated me with the idea of diskless desktop computers. The benefit as I saw it was that some grandmaster App would keep the department’s word processing installations up to date.

Eventually, maintaining software as a service became its own product. Known as SaaS the service is enabled through cloud computing. Other service models include infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS). These services make up about a third of cloud computing activities. File sharing accounts for another third.

By offloading IT involvement, users stay focused on work. It can be argued that universally accessible tools and services promote a strong collaborative culture.

Front end applications and services
Front end applications and services

Informal results from a session on documentation collaboration.

production & publishing

A blogger’s go-to place

The Vancouver writing and editing community lost a son last week. Derek K. Miller blogged for a decade until death by cancer made him stop. On news of The Last Post, a wave of traffic clogged his website. The sympathetic outpouring was instant and global.

I knew of Derek’s passion for electronic media and technology and wordcraft. I heard him present to the Editors’ Association of Canada–BC. He gave a thought-provoking talk called Life, Death, and the Blog in which he revealed why he wrote about cancer. He also explained what needs to be in place to keep one’s site going.

Back in March 2008 the audience was allowed to envision the future archive. A new tech world some three years hence preserves Derek’s writings at

book types & parts language & style

An addendum or two

This topic raises a question about common usage.

In my world, an addendum, like an appendix, is a supplement to a book. Publications may conclude with several of these add-ons but not usually in combination. So what is acceptable usage when a book contains more than one addendum or appendix – Addenda? Appendices?

Conversationally, this sounds pretentious if not passé. It took a short twenty years for appendixes to become the preferred term. Updating the style guide neither hastens a term’s use nor demise.

I turn to Merriam-Webster for guidance. The dictionary recognizes the use of addendums but keeps silent on whether that form is correct. says addendums is an acceptable plural.

These days when I hear appendices and especially indices the words ring like nails on a blackboard. (Does anyone even know what a blackboard is?) Addendums will become generally accepted no doubt. A living language gets tweaked every day.

design & typography lists & tables

Housekeeping–a starter kit

There’s this little detail about housekeeping called TMI. Too much information goes something like this. Master the art of potato peeling in the following three ways.

  • slicing
  • dicing
  • grating

And that list is fine until you append fourth and fifth ways to skin a spud. Now you, or more likely someone else, will have to update “three” to another number. The person inheriting the list becomes responsible for TMI. Good housekeeping avoids referring to a finite number.

Speaking of finite items, once there were nine, now there are eight planets. That housekeeping detail was massive, very necessary, and had to be updated everywhere immediately.