Re: Producing Books

Subject: Re: Producing Books
From: "Stephen D. Martin" <smartin -at- STORM -dot- CA>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998 17:05:19 -0500

John Posada wrote:

> Stephen:
> You deleted a part of my qualifying statement:

Sorry John, not an intentional slight. My son (also his mother's)
turned three months today and is quite vocal about it. 'Twas also
diaper changing/feeding time as a mid-reply break. :>

> However, to me, that classifies them as an inferior company or
> organization.

That just about describes the Government. When I was there, just a few
months ago, the departmental standard was still WfW3.11 with Word 6.
The group I was with did have upgrade versions of Frame 5.1.1 (if memory
serves correctly), and PageMaker 6.0 but they were perfectly useless
because nobody knew the serial numbers, and they had thrown away the
original full versins (Frame 4 and PM 5).

In the end I brought in my own personal copy of Win95 and PM6.5, did the
job and told my boss (who took a month's vacation in the midst of my
three month contract), after I'd increased my productivity many times
over. They eventually found the Frame license somewhere but by then it
was too late to change horses yet again.

> The business case might be that with Frame, you could have 4 writers

It could, but that would be treating a highly unlikely scenario with too
much seriousness. Of course when one presented with a job with a one
week deadline I don't have time for writing and presenting business
cases anyways, you can either accept the job and do the best that you
can do, or just walk away.

> > That might be chump change for some companies, but impossible for
> > others. In any case I think you completely missed my point.
> OK...what was the point?

When the carpenter goes into the store to buy his hammer, he buys the
best hammer he can, and he can get a hammer specifically tailored to
different requirements. You're talking about $50 maximum per hammer.

If the carpenter turns around later and blames the hammer because he did
a lousy job, then, yes, the carpenter is a "poor worker who blames his

In the hi-tech world in which we live, Management generally tells us
what tools we're going to use. One can make business cases to try and
change that fact but if the entire company is using Word, and the big
bosses want you to be able to exchange data with 99.99% compatibility
with everyone else, you're stuck using Word.

<Over the past few months I've seen at least two cases where this has
been shown to be true. The most immediate example that comes to mind is
the consultant who told management that they should all switch to Word,
that the lone holdout who wanted to stick with FrameMaker should be
blackballed, and then posted here asking us if we thought he made the
right decision.>

If a Tech Writer is forced to use an 'idiosyncratic' (See also: bug
ridden) tool, and blames that tool for not being able to do the job
expected then it is an insult (also sexist) to suggest that "it is a
poor worker who blames his tools".

HOWEVER, the only way to ensure that you always have the right tool for
the job is if you have all the tools, and as I demonstrated in my
example that isn't always fiscally feasible.

THEREFORE, people will have to use the wrong tool at least once intheir
life, and there's no reason to insult them for voicing perfectly valid
complaints about that tool, even if it is Word.

BTW Young Noah's web page can be found at:

Stephen D. Martin
President, Stephen Martin Enterprises

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