Sunday, September 21, 2008

Transport Canada Discovery

In an astonishing departure from computer traditions established in the 1970s, new Transport Canada licences use mixed case to list the qualifications and restrictions on the right side of a pilot licence. It's almost unsettling. A commercial IFR pilot gets a new licence at least every couple of years, so the community of working pilots will have their ALL UPPER CASE licences replaced within a couple of years. But there are thousands of pilots out there who have already earned all the ratings they are going to, and will retain licences declaring them approved to fly ALL SINGLE ENGINE NON HIGH PERFORMANCE LAND AEROPLANES. That is until Transport Canada finally implements the new booklet licences. Now that they've discovered how to unlock the shift key, I'm willing to believe it could happen.

5 comments:

Sarah said...

Nothing like ALL CAPS to emphasize the OFFICIALNESS of any STATEMENT.

Of course METARS and TAFS are even cooler, being coded by arcane ABBRVTNS.

So is the implication that Aviatrix is NOT approved to fly HIGH PERFORMANCE SINGLE ENGINE LAND AEROPLANES? Say it's not so...

Aviatrix said...

The meaning of high-performance is different in Canada, as I learned when I once grievously insulted an American blogger by asking how the heck a Cessna 185 was a high-performance airplane.

zb said...

I've always had a hard time understanding why so many 'posted' things, especially in Northern America, are caps only, even if ancient information/printing/typesetting technology should not be an issue. This begins at your random street corner (JOHN ST.), goes on on to the seat in front of you (LIVE VEST UNDER YOUR SEAT) and extends to a lengthy software licencs agreement that you have to click through when installing anything non GNU/GPL (or even GNU/GPL).

Especially in situations where it's absolutely necessarty to read the posted information fast, i.e. road signs and emergency signs, it seems to take so much longer to read a text composed of a bunch of similar looking caps compared to upper and lower case writing. When looking at an upper/lower case word, you need less time to figure out the word because the letters have much more distinctive shapes with all the tings sticking out above (tifhjklb) and below (qpgjy) so the informaton is easier to preocess for your eyes and brain.

Tho only reason I can think of why caps might be preferred is the assumption that there's a significant number of people who are near-illiterate and can't really read well and thus have a hard time reading lower case letters: for them, caps only might be easier since there's only 26 and not 52 distinctive shapes of letters to choose from.

James said...

IIRC, the software license thing comes from laws requiring certain phrases to be clear and prominent, which using capitals fulfils. Mozilla recently got caught up in a license flamewar, and as part of it decided using bold instead of capitals would suffice for making that text clear and prominent.

Sarah said...

Ah, I see. >250kt Vne and >80kt stall. That makes a little more sense than >200hp alone as it is defined in the US.

I hope I have not grievously insulted a Canadian blogger.