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But I like all the pretty pictures...

Hey Joel..  you made me laugh!!!

How about: 'A question for road-safety guide writers: why does every road-safety manual and book include a section at the beginning on "signs and symbols used on the road," full of ridiculous and useless tips like, "Stop signs are indicated by a red hexagon optionally with white STOP text in the margin"? Is it because you're paid by the word?'
  http://www.wsorrailroad.com/crossing1/images/cross1c.jpg
One has to ask why they are still included when allmost all road signs are now internationally standardized, yet every road-safety guide or manual still includes them?

Maybe the there is a conspiracy between all writers!

Heston Holtmann
Wednesday, April 16, 2003

I kinda have to agree.  I think you need a page that describes the symbols.  I've read some manuals that used symbols I couldn't decipher without a description page.  Maybe thay were badly written.

What about the case where a person reading the manual has never seen a computer manual before.

Sometimes youhave to go for the lowest common denominator, especially if its painless.

Happy to be working
Wednesday, April 16, 2003

<offOnATangent>
http://www.wsorrailroad.com/crossing1/images/cross1c.jpg

The picture that Heston pointed us to was rather interesting and I decided to check out the main web page http://www.wsorrailroad.com  Well, I am not a big rail fan, but maybe a small one and have lived in Wisconsin, so it was an interesting read.

Over the past couple of decades we have seen a lot of mergers of big railroads to even bigger ones with shorter lines being abandoned.  I never quite expected it, but somehow small companies seem to be able to buy up these short pieces of rail lines and make a profitable business of running them.

I always hate to see small friendly local businesses, especially software development companies, bought out by the big multinationals, but if the small railroads can survive, maybe just about any small business can make a go of it.

Concerning the picture, the W&S is putting stop signs at uncontrolled grade crossings.  Apparently reduces crashes as people don't have enough sense to check for trains without seeing the more familiar octagon.
</offOnATangent>

mackinac
Wednesday, April 16, 2003

As a counterpoint I'd like to say that a slightly non-technical parallel to this is the leading chapter of some books which focuses on "How this book is organized".

Currently I'm reading Leading Six Sigma by Snee and Horel.  Its quite a good book and really makes the case for the technologies and management changes behind Six Sigma while explaining what they are, how to implement it, and what the end result should be and how to adjust if it isn't. 

This kind of book absolutely needs to tell me who its target audience is, how it is organized, and how I should focus on reading it (as it can be read out of order depending on what role you play in the Six Sigma implementation).  I found it to be the third best chapter in the book.

Of course someone who's worked at GE or Allied Signal or Motorola might have found it to be a complete waste of time.  If that's the case, don't read it or buy a book without one.

Lou
Wednesday, April 16, 2003

<a href="http://www.backupbrain.com/2003_04_13_archive.html#a003326">Responded to here</a>.

In a nutshell: because some people need their hand held.

Dori Smith
Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Pretty pictures??

Sounds like a "Windows Install".

Long live tar |gzip.

Nat Ersoz
Wednesday, April 16, 2003

For anyone who wonders why authors often hold their readers by the hand...

Go write a technical article or book and it will cure you of any pre-conceived notions of the average intelligence of your readers.

Mark Hoffman
Thursday, April 17, 2003

50 percent of any group of people are below average intelligence.

Joe AA
Friday, April 18, 2003

100% of Joe AA doesn't understand averages.

Whapow!
Friday, April 18, 2003

There are some people who need explicit explanations for what you would call basic things like stop signs, and it's not because they're stupid.  They could have immigrated from a Kenyan village which has no paved roads and they have to walk or run everywhere. If you moved over there you would be the one who looks stupid for not being able to walk or run 5 miles in the 100-degree weather.

NoName
Saturday, April 19, 2003

100 degrees in Kenya?

On the coast maybe, but I bet you won't see many people running there.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, April 19, 2003

OK, it doesn't reach 100 degrees that often in Kenya, but that's beside the point. I'm just saying that common everyday things to us may be new and different to other people and vice versa if we go to their country.

As another example, in many countries (probably most?) self-service gas stations don't exist; somebody always pumps it for you. At the gas station near the airport I've seen people struggling to figure out how to operate the pump.

T.Norman
Sunday, April 20, 2003

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