Disc analyser news update

Tony Duell ard at p850ug1.demon.co.uk
Sat Mar 20 15:38:31 CDT 2010

> > Even with a modern machine and a fast internet connection it simply  
> > takes
> > too ling to 'flip through' a collection of data sheets.
>    That depends entirely on the design of the website.

I don't think it does. I've yet to use any computer (and I am not talking 
aobut my classics here) where I can 'turn the pages' of a PDF file as 
quickly as I an turn the pages of a book and still read enough 
information to know if I waant to stop and read that page more carefully.

If I know I want a particular data sheet, then, yes, I can probalby (90% 
of the time or so) get it on the web. But if I don't know what data sheet 
I want, then a data book is going to be a lot easier for me.

Recently I had a 40 pin LC with a Motorola logo and a house number. I 
could identify some of the connectiosn (power, data bus) on the board it 
was part of. I susepcted it was a microcontroller (this later turned out 
to be incorrect, BTW). Flipping through the applicable data books here 
took a few minutes (and alas I didn't find anything that made sense). I 
then spent an hour or more looking on the data sheet archive sites and 
eventually identified it. But it took a lot more time to do that than it 
would have done if I'd had that data hseet on paper.

So, yes, the archive sites were very useful, in that I got the data in 
the end. But it would have been a lot easier if I'd had the data books on 

>    Tony, I don't mean to be insulting here, but it's simply ludicrous  
> to assume that all new developments are evil simply because they are  
> new.  Dismissing things for that reason really is unbecoming of a  

I never said that. What I said, and I stand by, is that I can't thinkl of 
any new developemnt that has made _my_ life easier or better. I am very 
happy to consider new developments. 

> person of your caliber.  If you've ever actually TRIED this, without  

FWIW, I get information off the web all the time. Often it's the only way 
I am going to get the information. But this doesn't mean it's the best 
way I can think of.

> going into it under the assumption that it will fail (and thus  
> finding a way to make it fail), making these sorts of statements is  
> just plain silly.  There's a whole world of engineers out there, some  
> of whom are even almost as good as you are, who AREN'T hampered into  
> uselessness because downloadable PDF files have largely replaced  
> printed databooks.

The point is (at least for me) if you don';t know something is likely to 
exist, you're not going to spend time looking for it. I really don't ahve 
the time to look at every manufacturer's web site to see if there happens 
to be a chip that does what I want (as I keep on pointing out, 'flipping 
through pdf's takes an order of magnatude longer -- at least -- than 
'flippiong throuhg books'). I'll stick to what I know will do the job.  
Btu many times with the paper data books I've thought 'Now that's a nice 
feature' and I've rememebred that Motorola or whoever make a chip that 
does something that's useful. And when I find I need that feautre, I 
rememebr which book it's in (even If I can't rememebr the number, I can 
probalby rememebr the basic functionality, so I am going to find said 
data sheet in a couple of minures).. 

Maybe you enjoy downloading one pdf after another and readingthem. I, 
alas, don't. I'll do it if I have to, but not if I don't.
>    I am a book fanatic.  I have a library in my house that contains  
> well over a thousand books.  NONE of them are fiction...they're all  
> technical books.  I love them.  I also have a big shelf full of  

FWIW, me too. Actually way more than 1000. 

> databooks, maybe 30-35 of them that I keep around, and about a  
> hundred more in the closet that I haven't used in years.  I LOVE  
> books.  I'm just as much of a book curmudgeon as you are.  But now  
> that mostly everything is available electronically, I find it FAR FAR  
> FAR faster and easier to access it that way.

For me it depends on what I want it for. 

>    And if I REALLY want it on paper, which I often do, I just print it.
> >> in seconds, rather than having to wait for weeks to find a copy of a
> >> databook that I don't have.  I have nearly three thousand PDF
> >
> > There are 2 issues here.
> >
> > Firstly, there are components that I have used for which I can't  
> > find the
> > data sheets in any archive on the web. An example would be the SAA5070
> > (and yes it is used in classic computers). OK, _current_ device data
> > sheets are probably available, but I wonder if anyone is archiving  
> > those.
>    I do, whenever I download one.  Data storage is cheap, I have  
> effectively unlimited data storage capacity here, so I keep them.
>    And there will always be chips for which there's no documentation  
> available.  That problem is NOT specific to electronic formats!

Ture enough, the obvious example being a custom device. But what worries 
me is when a device was a standard part, the data sheet was publisehd, 
but nobody botheres to archive it. And then 20 years later somebody 
needs that data sheet.

> > The second issue is that yes, I will agree that being able to download
> > data wheets is a Good Thing. But that doesn't mean this has to  
> > _replace_
> > data books. It is a very common falacy that because <a> is better than
> > <b> for some application, it has to be better for all applications  
> > [1].
>    I don't think anyone ever said that.  But you've been implying  
> that PDF datasheets are USELESS, to EVERYONE, ALL THE TIME, FOREVER,  
> and that they might just be the root of all evil.

I never said that. I simply stated that _for me_ it's a lot harder to see 
what interesting devices are availalbe if I don't have a printed data 

> > And as for 'wait a few weeks', when I was buing databooks about 10  
> > or 20
> > years ago, they generally came next day. Quite a few companies also  
> > kept
> > archives of their old data sheets and would send a hptocopy next day
> > (free or for a nominal charge).
>    When I was buying them 10 or 20 years ago, it took a few weeks,  
> unless I was working for an organization that, for some reason, had  
> the attention of a semiconductor manufacturer sales-droid who would  
> bend over backwards in the hopes of getting a million-unit sale.   
> Perhaps things are better in the UK in that department.

I was cleaerly very lucky, then. I wasn't an organisation at all, just a 
hobbyist or student. But just about every manufacturer I tried would send 
me a copy of the data sheet (no matter how old) next day. And if I asked 
about a data book, they would normally quote a price, I'd post them a 
cheque (I didn't ahve a credit card back then) and they'd sent it to me, 
noramlly without waitign for the cheque to clear. 

> >>    Not all change is automatically bad.
> >
> > True, but I think this one is. And I am actually still trying to  
> > think of
> > a change in the last 20 years that's been for the better...
>    Oh good heavens.

Well, OK, please name one change in the last 20 years that has made _my_ 
life better.


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