Re: admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery...

Subject: Re: admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery...
From: Doc <dlettvin -at- attbi -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 09 Jul 2002 15:59:39 -0400


On Tue, 9 Jul 2002 11:32:20 -0700 (PDT), Steven Brown
<stevenabrown -at- yahoo -dot- com> wrote:

>
>I've often felt that humor could have a place in
>technical documentation, but when I've seen attempts
>"in the flesh," they usually fall flat. Let's face it,
>most of us think we're funny but we're not. Even the
>humor in the Dummies and Idiot series of books comes
>off a little campy at times.

The heck with the Dummies and Idiots series . . . The man who inspired
me to be a technical writer is a totally admirable nut case named Russ
Walter. If you haven't ever read or seen The Secret Guide to Computers
then you have missed a treat.

Russ used to turn up at the Boston Computer Society meetings wearing a
witch hat, red kimono, white gloves and roller skates. May not sound
weird now, but it was 20 years ago.

Here's a sample from the Welcome page of the 19th edition (1994)
"Congratulations! You've decided to learn about computers! Now you can
get even with the millions of computers trying to learn about you.

This book turns you into a computer expert even if you're an idiot. In
fact, some of the world's most famous computer experts have read this
book -- and are idiots!
...snip...
It's the only book that covers all the topics, the only book making
even the bumpiest computer topics smooth, and the only book whose
author is foolish enough to give you his home phone number."

Not only does he give you his number, he prints it on the front of the
book.

Russ copyrights his books but encourages you to copy them.

In the 11th edition he told a great story. Apparently he started
getting a lot of phone calls about the Adam (remember Coleco?) and
after checking realized that they had reprinted his explanation from
an earlier edition as the documentation . . . AND included his phone
number as the one to call for tech support!

The 26th edition is the most recent version I know (2000) and you can
look at a sample chapter here:
http://www.banmex.com/secretguide/index.htm

He may not be to everyone's taste, but when (if?) I grow up. I'd like
to communicate as well as he does.

-Doc
VerText
South Hamilton, MA
+1-978-468-1105

Our choicest plans
have fallen through
our airiest castles
tumbled over
because of lines
we neatly drew
and later neatly
stumbled over.
-- Piet Hein



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Follow-Ups:

References:
admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery...: From: Sella Rush

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