Ir's a new year, so let's start out with something fundamental, cleaning up something that's bothered me for many years.
The other day I was lunching with a computer-naive friend who asked, "What is software?"
Seems like it would be an easy question for those of us who make and break software for a living, but I had to think carefully to come up with an explanation that she could understand:
Software is that part of a computer system that adapts the machinery to various different uses. For instance, with the same computer, but different software, you could play a game, compute your taxes, write a letter or a book, or obtain answers to your questions about dating.
I then explained to her that it’s unfortunate that early in the history of computers this function was given the name “software,” in contrast to “hardware.” What it should have been called was “flexibleware.”
Unfortunately the term “soft” has been interpreted by many to mean “easy,” which is exactly wrong. Don't be fooled.
What we call “hardware” should have been called “easyware,” and what we call “software” could then have been appropriately called “difficultware.”