Re: Re[2]: online vs. paper

Subject: Re: Re[2]: online vs. paper
From: Romay Jean Sitze <rositze -at- NMSU -dot- EDU>
Date: Sun, 9 Oct 1994 13:42:37 -0600

I had an experience this last week that reinforced, for me, the importance
of paper documentation. I tried to do a simple installation of some
software on my system; you know the kind: Open FILE in Windows Program
Manager, select RUN and type a:install. Well, the installation seemed to
be running smoothly until I reached the EXIT TO DOS AND REOPEN WINDOWS
line. I couldn't get back into Windows. When I started checking to find
out what had happened, I discovered that the apparently simple
installation had destroyed my Autoexec.bat, messed up my Config.sys, and
destroyed 15 other program files. And they were unrecoverable. If I had
to rely totally on the online help system, I would still be unable to
operate my system. Fortunately, I had paper manuals.

On Fri, 7 Oct 1994,
Arlen P. Walker wrote:

> Since walking you through the details of a task is
> >sometimes easier on-line, let the on-line help contain that in
> But


> See? We agree.

> Well, we're close. You stated earlier that you don't want every command
> documented in the paper docs. I do. Step-by-steps for how to reformat a
> into a fremcycle, which can be a tricky procedure, can possibly be left to the
> on-line help (but it still bothers me that you would force me to fire up a
> system and software just to see how much hassle it would be to do it, so I'll
> be better able to know when I'll have the time to try). But the fact that it
> can be done should be in the paper, as well as full documentation of the each
> of the commands involved in the procedure.

> It's just that when my boss comes into my cube screaming that he needs his
> flugel de-horned, I can reach into my bookshelf (My cube is certainly messy,
> but I keep my books on a bookshelf -- my one concession to organization) flip
> open the manual, look at it, and say "It's a fairly simple procedure,
> take more than an hour." And do that in less time than it would take me to
> FlugelDeHorner, open the on-line help, and dig out the answer from there.

> That's the root of it. If the application isn't already running, it'll take me
> longer to launch it and open the on-line help than it will to grab the book
> open it. Jonathan Erickson, in the old Computer Language magazine (moment of
> silence observed with hand over heart for the passing of the best computer mag
> in the business) made a similar observation.

> He had just purchased a CD-ROM with a dictionary, thesaurus, and several other
> standard reference works, and he looked forward to using it instead of the
> books which were taking up shelf and desk space in his office. It lasted for
> about a month. Then he realized he was able to retrieve the information faster
> from the books than from the CD-ROM. The books stayed and the CD-ROM went. Not
> for any sentimental reasons; not because he was resistant to change -- he
> honestly looked forward to using the new technology. But simply because it's
> faster to use a well-organized book than launch a computer program.

> Have fun,
> Arlen

> Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
> ----------------------------------------------
> In God we trust; all others must provide data.
> ----------------------------------------------

* RoMay Sitze rositze -at- nmsu -dot- edu *
* Mirrors should reflect a *
* little before throwing *
* back images. *
* -Jean Cocteau- *

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