Re[2]: Discuss: Third party manuals?

Subject: Re[2]: Discuss: Third party manuals?
From: "Arlen P. Walker" <Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 14 Apr 1995 11:33:00 -0600

I buy third party manuals. Sometimes because we have a site license and
I don't get any documentation with the software that is installed.

We buy MS Office as a suite, because it's cheaper than Word and Excel
separately. And we buy right-to-copy because we're a large site. MS wants about
$75 for their manual set. I can get a Good 3rd party Excel book for $25, and I
don't use PowerPoint enough to justify a manual. Word I've flown (in the case
of 6.0, perhaps "walked" is a better term) for years, so all I need is to "re-
acquaint" myself with where MS moved the features I use, and look for new things
when I've the time, so again, no manual necessary. So a $75 expense is dropped
to $25. And the same point applies to a lot of other folks here.

Sometimes (and this is where I
see the value of 3rd party manuals) I find the third party docs presented
in a way that I "like." Company docs can't be all things to all people
(wouldn't that be nice) so "sometimes" I go to the bookstore and find
something on the subject more in keeping with the way I learn.

I think you've hit the bull in the eye, Diane. Everyone learns in different
ways. Different points are essential to different people. Another key is word
selection. If the manual writer calls it "kerning" because that's the correct
term for it, but Joe User wants to find out about character spacing, he might
not be able to find it easily. (Yes, that brings up a whole long indexing
discussion. I'm assuming this particular manual may not have been incredibly
well indexed.)

And I'll toss in a psychological reason: Many Americans love to denigrate
knowledge. They take a perverse pride in not being able to set the time on their
VCR's. And computer manuals have long had a reputation for being difficult
(whether they are now or not, we all must admit that at one time most were
horrid either on their own, or because they were accurately describing working
with a horrid interface). Therefore "I couldn't possibly figure out the manual"
becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy (whether the manual deserves it or not).

Have fun,
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
DNRC 124

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

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