Subject: Re VCRs
From: "Martin R. Smith" <martins -at- NEWAGE -dot- OTSUKA -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 2 Jul 1996 11:38:32 -0600

When people ask what I do for a living and I confess to being a technical
writer they invariably ask "are you the one who writes those @#*%*@@ VCR
instructions." No I tell them. I write about NMR spectroscopy, as if that
puts me in a class apart from the unnamed, lowly VCR writer. So when I read
the posts regarding VCRs I couldn't resist writing a response.

In defense of technical writers everywhere, I would like to point out that
the user interface to every VCR that I have ever seen is atrocious. These
machines are plagued with blinking, do-nothing gadget lights, useless
"features" and dumb firmware. Imagine if you will a remote control with
these buttons: set time, set recording start time, set recording stop time,
channel select, play, rewind, fast forward, and eject. Add a knob that the
user can turn to increment or decrement an on-screen counter and also push
on to make a selection. Now we have a system where the user presses the
set-time button and the characters --:-- appear on the screen. The first
pair of characters is blinking. The user turns the knob to dial in the
appropriate hour and presses on the knob when finished. Now the final pair
of characters is blinking and the user dials in the minutes and presses on
the knob. Finished. Ditto for setting the start and stop times and the
channel. Simple. Straight forward. Easy.

Another thing. Most mid-fi audio amplifiers are equally bad or worse with
even more blinking, do-nothing gadget lights and gizmos. Instead of
listening to music, the user listens to special effects. However, there are
still good audio products to be found if one is willing to look hard
enough. I recently purchased an integrated amplifier with three (count 'em)
three knobs (volume, balance, source selection) and an on/off switch. The
two-inch high, steel chassis has eight vacuum tubes and three massive
transformers mounted on top. The knobs and on/off switch are on the front
panel. Its simple to use and visually pleasing design is only surpassed by
its warm, detailed sound. If anyone out there builds a VCR with these same
design principles listen up; I'm ready to buy it too.

In the best of companies, technical writers are included in the design
process. It's a lot easier to write about a product when the user interface
is well conceived. I think its about time the as-of-yet unnamed VCR writer
speak up!

TECHWR-L List Information
To send a message about technical communication to 2500+ list readers,
E-mail to TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU -dot- Send administrative commands
ALL other questions or problems concerning the list
should go to the listowner, Eric Ray, at ejray -at- ionet -dot- net -dot-

Previous by Author: Opportunity for experienced Technical Writer - N VA (DC metro)
Next by Author: Contractor needed/Editing prices
Previous by Thread: Re: Word Conversions to FrameMaker
Next by Thread: Re: Re VCRs

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads