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Self-documenting peripherals

Put the manual in the peripheral itself
  (+4, -1)
(+4, -1)
  [vote for,

I often have difficulty finding a manual for a peripheral on a computer. It is often easy to find the necessary information online, but what if you can't get online because of the part you can't get to work? Source code is well-commented and you can theoretically work out what it does. Hardware should be the same. Each peripheral should include a ROM containing a text file documenting it, which can be accessed via a BIOS utility, enabling one to access all necessary information and identifying each peripheral by name.
nineteenthly, Oct 18 2004

Built-in micro-printed instructions http://www.halfbake...nted_20instructions
A solution. [phoenix, Oct 23 2004]

Button size IR web server http://www.halfbake...20IR_20web_20server
Another. [phoenix, Oct 23 2004]


       I'd buy the idea better if the origin of the documentation was pre-written and included in the device firmware rather than as some hocus-pocus involving interpretation of source code. Or am I mis-interpreting the idea?
bristolz, Oct 18 2004

       All i meant was that software can be self-documenting, so hardware could be too.
nineteenthly, Oct 18 2004

       this is already done quite often
theircompetitor, Oct 18 2004

       Some devices do have this. Of things attached to my home computer, I can think of a router and VoIP box with built-in web pages. Other devices have documentation that installs itself when you install your device. Sure, none of these are interfaced through BIOS, but that's a strange requirement.
Worldgineer, Oct 18 2004

       I am imagining the sort of situation where the computer is so completely screwed up that its O/S is unuseable and the BIOS is the only option.
nineteenthly, Oct 18 2004

       I don't think this is a good idea for that scenario. If your computer can't even basically communicate with your devices, it is unlikely that you'll be able to coax data out of them.
Worldgineer, Oct 18 2004

       I long ago lost touch with how IBM PC compatible computers work, but i imagined an arrangement where each peripheral had a single byte mapped into memory which was a copy of the first byte in the documentation, which when read would change to the copy of the next byte and so on, allowing the whole of the file to be read very simply, but i acknowledge that i may be so far behind the times that this may now be impossible.
nineteenthly, Oct 18 2004

       I think [World]'s point was.. if you're PC's ****ed to the extent that you can't get the OS running, why on earth are you trying to read the documentation for your peripherals? I very much like the idea of manuals being embedded wherever they can be though (especially in upgradeable firmware).
neilp, Oct 19 2004

       While you are at it, have the peripheral contain a copy of its own driver for heaven sakes!!!   

       I can't even count the number of times that an essential driver CD has fallen between the proverbial couch cushions of my life never to be seen again.   

       All it would take is some ROM that could be accessed via the same routines as a USB drive or some other relatively standardized data storage media.   

       We could finally have all hardware be truly "Plug n' Play".
Psudomorph, Feb 22 2007


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