Good books

Subject: Good books
From: K Watkins <KWATKINS -at- QUICKPEN -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 1996 14:56:00 -0300

Frederick Falk writes:

>What books have you paid your hard earned money for that you were
>especially wowed by, that you would recommend to someone else as a *must
>have* book? What books do you constantly review, ie references,
>dictionaries, grammer guides, etc., to help you do your daily work?

I'm not sure I really have such books. I use the manuals of my software
tools; now and then I use a Webster's Ninth Collegiate, that being the
dictionary my company provided; I very occasionally check my copy of the
13th (never got the 14th) Chicago Manual of Style, or my aged pocket Roget's
Thesaurus. The latter two are rarely helpful even when I go to them.

I skim the TechWr-L list, and the STC newsletter and journal when they come
out, to keep alert for stuff I may need to know more about, but I fully read
only those postings/articles which apply to my current concerns. (Like
you, I can't browse the Web; I suspect it would be another such source.) In
addition, since Word is my primary tool, I get the Cobb newsletter _Inside
Word_, which frequently has an interesting tip or two; a couple of times
their ideas have made a big difference in my ease of work. My company
supports these subscriptions.

My usual approach when tangling with something new is to sniff around for
whatever source is supposed to spout the received wisdom on the subject.
Computer bookstores are a good source for me, as are the TechWr-L and STC
reviews and booklists. (The Web would probably be a big help here.)
However, the resources I find this way are not general resources which I
keep using indefinitely, but materials for coming up to speed on something
specific. For instance, when I started working with online Help, I talked
my company into getting me Horton's second edition of _Designing and Writing
Online Documentation_; the Microsoft Windows 3.1 _Programming Tools_ and
_Programmer's Reference_, which talk about what Help can do and how; and
then Boggan, Farkas, and Welinske's _Developing Online Help for Windows_,
which I haven't yet finished. There is noticeable redundancy among these
three sources, though each has some stuff the others don't.

Except for my software manuals and the occasional reference to the
dictionary, I am addicted to none of these, though I would gladly recommend
the Horton-and-Microsoft combination to a novice at creating Help. Well, if
for some reason my company would no longer pay for my STC membership or my
Internet access, I would probably do one or the other myself, to keep in
touch...maybe both.

Hope this is useful -

K Watkins
kwatkins -at- quickpen -dot- com
speaking for myself, not my employers


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