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"Life it too short to read the manual"
09-17-2018, 05:59 AM
Post: #1
"Life it too short to read the manual"
Hello,

Since this is a topic that flares up regullary in this forum, I wanted to post this link to a very serious study, winner of the ig Nobel pice!

The gist of the study is on user manuals and their uses.
It states that older men are most likely to actuall read the manual than any other class of the population.
Young people do not read manuals.

https://academic.oup.com/iwc/article/28/1/27/2363584

Happy reading.

Cyrille

Although I work for the HP calculator group, the views and opinions I post here are my own. I do not speak for HP.
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09-17-2018, 06:22 AM
Post: #2
RE: "Life it too short to read the manual"
(09-17-2018 05:59 AM)cyrille de brébisson Wrote:  Hello,

Since this is a topic that flares up regullary in this forum, I wanted to post this link to a very serious study, winner of the ig Nobel pice!

The gist of the study is on user manuals and their uses.
It states that older men are most likely to actuall read the manual than any other class of the population.
Young people do not read manuals.

https://academic.oup.com/iwc/article/28/1/27/2363584

Happy reading.

Cyrille

tl;dr and... too young to read.

;)

Sorry, thanks for the link, Cyrille.

Greetings,
    Massimo

-+×÷ ↔ left is right and right is wrong
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09-17-2018, 07:51 AM (This post was last modified: 09-17-2018 04:50 PM by Garth Wilson.)
Post: #3
RE: "Life it too short to read the manual"
It's a chicken-and-egg situation. Younger people did not live back when there were well-written manuals, so they don't want to read. Manufacturers assume that no one reads the manual anyway, so why put the time and expense into writing a good one. HP wrote absolutely outstanding manuals in the 1980's. When I got my 41cx and 71B, I read the manuals all the way through, and although I'm not much of a reader, I enjoyed them. When I got to the end, I felt I knew the product, even though I had never gotten to "the hard part" (because there was no "hard part"). In the following years, I have tried to imitate HP's way when I have written manuals for our company's products.

http://WilsonMinesCo.com (Lots of HP-41 links at the bottom of the links page, http://wilsonminesco.com/links.html )
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09-17-2018, 09:01 AM
Post: #4
RE: "Life it too short to read the manual"
One of the pleasures that I remember from my youth is reading the HP 15C manuals with the calculator. Now that I'm older, nothing changed. Maybe we are exception of the rule?
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09-17-2018, 09:24 AM (This post was last modified: 09-17-2018 09:26 AM by Maximilian Hohmann.)
Post: #5
RE: "Life it too short to read the manual"
Hello!

Very interesting... In my experience, one only reads the first manual of any kind of new equipment one gets. First calculator, first stereo, first video recorder, first car, first aeroplane (unless the employer foreces you to read those of subsequent ones). From then on it is "been there - done it" and why should that one work differently from the ones before :-)

Also the manuals tend to get thicker and thicker whilst one's remaining life span gets shorter and shorter. My first digital camera came with a manual of less than 100 pages. Which I read, because I never had such a camera before. My current one - 15 years later or so - comes with an 338 page manual. Which I didn't bother to read because otherwise I would not have time to take any pictures. Therby I probably miss 70% of that camera's capabilities (like "4k burst mode" and "focus stacking" whatever that might be) but so what? The same, by the way, with the manuals that come with calculators.

Regards
Max

NB: My son (18yo) never reads manuals, so the theory seems to be correct. However he spends a lot of time watching tutorials on YouTube instead when he runs out of intuition about how to operate his gadgets.
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09-17-2018, 10:01 AM (This post was last modified: 09-17-2018 10:02 AM by pier4r.)
Post: #6
RE: "Life it too short to read the manual"
The point with manuals is that people fail to recognize that they are reference work.

Sometimes you need to read through them, but often you can just pick the chapter you need.
Also many manuals are pretty instructive. Yesterday I checked better the manual of my washing machine (dated 2017), and to my surprise it describes even how to wash clothes for those that have no ideas. That is pretty neat.
Then one can end up also with poor manuals.

In general one reads manual when one cannot figure out how to achieve a certain result with a product, so if the product is intuitive or very similar to previous ones, it is not needed.
I never read a manual about lego constructions for example. That was a challenge!

Wikis are great, Contribute :)
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09-17-2018, 11:16 AM
Post: #7
RE: "Life it too short to read the manual"
(09-17-2018 09:24 AM)Maximilian Hohmann Wrote:  Hello!

[...]
NB: My son (18yo) never reads manuals, so the theory seems to be correct. However he spends a lot of time watching tutorials on YouTube instead when he runs out of intuition about how to operate his gadgets.

so youtubers read the manuals ... [Image: omino_mento.gif]

Hardware: Hp48S - Hp50g
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09-17-2018, 11:26 AM
Post: #8
RE: "Life it too short to read the manual"
Hello!

(09-17-2018 10:01 AM)pier4r Wrote:  ..., so if the product is intuitive or very similar to previous ones, it is not needed.

This is the reason why Apple is now the most (or one of the most) valuable company worldwide. Because they found a way to make complex products with an intuitive user interface. I myself want nothing but computers from Apple around me (after decades of early home computers, early MS DOS and Windows PCs and unix workstations). Never again do I want to read a computer manual or, even worse, be forced to take a course...

BTW: One of the most complex things I ever used - in the late 1980ies/early 1990ies was an 8510 vector network analyzer from HP ("Agilent" was still in a distant future then). It came with a cupboard full of documentation but there was no need to read a single line of that, because HP sent a technician together with the machine who would train us for an entire week. Those were the days...

Regards
Max
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09-17-2018, 11:38 AM (This post was last modified: 09-17-2018 11:39 AM by pier4r.)
Post: #9
RE: "Life it too short to read the manual"
(09-17-2018 11:16 AM)franz.b Wrote:  so youtubers read the manuals ... [Image: omino_mento.gif]

Well I am not sure whether it is sad or not. I think it is ok, people prefer this or that format for the information.
Now one can joke on people checking youtube for their private stuff, but as Maximilian had tranings back in the days (actually the same happens even today), there are people with more knowledge that provide simplified and to the point solutions to the user requesting it. It is no different than an help topic in this forum.

I followed on Udemy some courses for AWS (videos). After the third lesson one can realize that the speaker is just wrapping the nice documentation from AWS with a couple of additional examples. One doesn't need to follow the videos at all.
Actually a lesson in the university is nothing else than a real time (and space) video.
So while I would be inclined myself to say "ah, you follow videos instead of reading -_-", it is actually nothing bad when the video is good or at least exposes the documentation properly.

I can say for myself that I can follow lectures (and therefore videos), but then I have to take notes if the content is not simple. This because ultimately I prefer to process textual information.

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09-17-2018, 12:45 PM
Post: #10
RE: "Life it too short to read the manual"
Hello!

(09-17-2018 11:38 AM)pier4r Wrote:  I can say for myself that I can follow lectures (and therefore videos), but then I have to take notes if the content is not simple. This because ultimately I prefer to process textual information.

It used to be the same with we, but it is changing. At university and also during my flying ground training I often studied at home at my own pace instead of attending the lectures when that was allowed, some had mandatory attendance. But now the prospect of sitting down with a thick manual - even if I can read it on my iPad - and working my way through a complex subject does not appeal very much.

Not long ago I purchased a licence for an online video course for a software instead of laboring through a 1400-pages manual. Something I would certainly not have considered ten years ago. But watching a professional at work and being able to copy his workflow is - for me at least - a great advantage over having to work it all out for myself, and possibly missing some important things just because they are not obvious. This is by the way for the video editing software "DaVinci Resolve 15", an incredibly powerful piece of code and totally free in the basic version. No way can I learn to use this code by reading a manual alone!

Regards
Max
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09-17-2018, 01:00 PM
Post: #11
RE: "Life it too short to read the manual"
One of the things I noticed with the 35S manual is that it is that the writers had to support both RPN and Algebraic entry users. I pity their predicament, but as a result, the manual is a bit of a muddled mess that is painful to use. It's no wonder most users don't.

Actual users will tend to be either 100% RPN or 100% Algebraic. Very few are going to be switching modes back and forth as the situation dictates. Nonetheless, that is exactly what the manual does and it seems that the authors pick the method based on whichever it was easier for them to document.

As I tried to work my way through the guide, there are holes all over where the prior mode was assumed, but improperly or ambiguously. I do sympathize with the author(s)' predicament of supporting both, but really it would have been easiest to write the manual for EITHER Algebraic or RPN. Then, once complete, they should have gone back through it, and created a second manual that is a translation of the first into the other system.

No added production cost with PDFs anyhow, but would about in preparation? Yes, it does sound like a whole lot more work, but I don't think it actually would have been and the result would have been a lot more coherent anyhow, with no missing hunks. For the users, everything would have been tighter and shorter as well—they would generally only ever open the manual for the entry system they prefer.

As Garth notes, manuals like that for the 35S are probably why younger people don't bother with the manuals anymore. As one facet of my job, I have to write manuals (for technical users) for software algorithms I develop. They need to be succinct and unambiguous.
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09-17-2018, 01:20 PM
Post: #12
RE: "Life it too short to read the manual"
I tend not to read manuals, but not because they were bad.
By the time I finished reading, the product is probably already obsolete.

All my time reading how to program a VCR is wasted ...
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09-17-2018, 02:44 PM
Post: #13
RE: "Life it too short to read the manual"
I enjoy reading the early HP calculator manuals. Besides being well written, they offer a glimpse of techie life in the 70's and early 80s.
Dave
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09-17-2018, 04:29 PM (This post was last modified: 09-17-2018 05:40 PM by Jlouis.)
Post: #14
RE: "Life it too short to read the manual"
I have the HP 50g users and AUR manuals printed, I guess more than 1500 pages and I read it every now and then some interesting chapters. This is not time wasted, on the contrary, it's a pleasure reading.

I think there's some youngster (the younger generation call them nerds) that I pretty sure believe they read whatever fall in their hands.

Probably they will be bosses of the ones who have called them nerds.

Edit: Every time you learn something, by reading or doing, a new neural network is made. It's good for your memory, intelligence, mental heath and prevents some disease like alzh.....something, never mind,I forgot the name.
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09-17-2018, 06:42 PM (This post was last modified: 09-17-2018 06:43 PM by Luigi Vampa.)
Post: #15
RE: "Life it too short to read the manual"
(09-17-2018 04:29 PM)Jlouis Wrote:  I have the HP 50g users and AUR manuals printed, I guess more than 1500 pages and I read it every now and then some interesting chapters. This is not time wasted, on the contrary, it's a pleasure reading.

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09-17-2018, 09:28 PM
Post: #16
RE: "Life it too short to read the manual"
(09-17-2018 04:29 PM)Jlouis Wrote:  I have the HP 50g users and AUR manuals printed, I guess more than 1500 pages and I read it every now and then some interesting chapters. This is not time wasted, on the contrary, it's a pleasure reading.

If only the Prime had an AUR, like the 48g/50g. Revised with each Prime update. That would be more good reading, and an invaluable reference.

Geoff
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09-17-2018, 09:59 PM
Post: #17
RE: "Life it too short to read the manual"
A few random comments.

My 17-year-old step-son practically refuses to read a manual on anything. His standard response is "I'll just look it up on youtube." I'm convinced that he's afraid of manuals.

When I got my 41C at about his age, I clearly remember sitting down and reading the manual cover to cover. It took about 12 hours.

Manuals are harder because devices are more complex. I remember the manuals for the PDP/11 taking about 12 feet of shelf space. They were wonderful, but they were big. Now consider how much more complicated a cellphone is than a PDP/11. Thorough documentation would fill a room.

At the same time, the manuals that we do get have become less and less useful. Appliance and automobile manuals have 2 pages of warnings for every paragraph of information. Ironically enough, I think the warnings make the devices more dangerous rather than less because it's impossible to find the actual instructions. For a good example, see the manual for any chainsaw.

I went from a 41C to a 50g, so I was like a high school kid who knew nothing about a graphic calculator. Sadly, I found the printed User's Manual utterly impenetrable. IN retrospect, I realize that it's more like the quick reference guides of old.

The larger User's Guide was more helpful, but the information per page is very low. This is mostly due to the fact that for every concept, it tends to spend pages saying "in ALG mode, do this. Now if RPN mode, do it like this. If you're using soft menus, it looks like this, but if you're using choose boxes, it's like this."

Overall, I found the 48G manuals the most helpful for learning how to use a 50g.

The on-board help in the Prime is a huge step forward, as are the menus.
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09-18-2018, 12:01 AM
Post: #18
RE: "Life it too short to read the manual"
(09-17-2018 05:59 AM)cyrille de brébisson Wrote:  Hello,

Since this is a topic that flares up regullary in this forum, I wanted to post this link to a very serious study, winner of the ig Nobel pice!

The gist of the study is on user manuals and their uses.
It states that older men are most likely to actuall read the manual than any other class of the population.
Young people do not read manuals.

https://academic.oup.com/iwc/article/28/1/27/2363584

Happy reading.

Cyrille

I love reading manuals. I need to have the manual open and follow along pressing buttons as I go. I can read at my own pace. I can't usually follow tutorials on YouTube very well since they go too fast and usually aren't for the exact version I have. When menus change between versions, following along is very difficult without a lot of pausing and rewinding.
My kids are the exact opposite. They can't understand written manuals very well although their reading skills are above average for other material. They can watch a YouTube video and operate the equipment flawlessly after one run-through.

Tom L

People may say I'm inept but I consider myself to be totally ept.
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09-18-2018, 02:15 AM (This post was last modified: 09-20-2018 07:30 AM by brickviking.)
Post: #19
RE: "Life it too short to read the manual"
How much of a manual I read varies; depending on the product, I'll often dive in to the obvious stuff, and use the manual to fact-check for stuff I'm not sure about. I generally remember obvious stuff and features I use more often, but for stuff I don't know, I often need to revisit the manual multiple times until it 'locks'. I have in the past made use of forums and IRC (Internet Chat Relay) channels for questions not explained in "one phrase", though those are prone to "I have to wait ages for a response, if there's a 'correct' response at all". With the calculators I have, I tend to read more of the manual, mainly because I need to look up how to do more complicated stuff than just add/subtract/sin/sqrt/log.

The quality of the manuals supplied with my calculators have varied from fairly good (82MS, 9750g+) to minimal (HP50G's QRG, 9750gII's 16-page quick start guide) to abysmal (Canon's F-804P). The last one's particularly interesting in that every button on the calculator's explained, but the English translation is ... lousy. Here's an example of the [ON/C] button's description:

Quote:Turn on power, cleaning up / cleaning independent memory / cleaning statistic memory

Push it down to open power source if the electric source is closed.
Push it down to clean up the input characters and wrong identifiers.
Push down [SHIFT] first and then this key to clean up the contents in the independent memory.
Push down [ALPHA] first and then this key to clean up the statistic computational registers (statistic comprtional mode).

And yes, that spelling mistake really is in the manual. It's really a shame, because the logic portion of this particular calculator is quite good, even considering that it's not actually programmable. I can store variable-based formulae in it up to a certain limit, and I have 27 variables available as well as a separate memory register and answer register. It's just seriously let down by the manual, and it's also let down by the buttons and fascia. I gave a quick breakdown about it and others at this blog post of mine from 2008.

As for the study, I got lost once they started discussing the specifics of the statistics they applied to the data. I would have actually liked to see a questionnaire, rather than just the results of that questionnaire. Given that I've found that maths is actually a weak point for me, I wasn't entirely surprised, but I was disappointed.

(Post 285)

Regards, BrickViking
HP-50g |Casio fx-9750G+ |Casio fx-9750GII (SH4a)
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09-18-2018, 05:13 AM
Post: #20
RE: "Life it too short to read the manual"
Hello,

"If only the Prime had an AUR, like the 48g/50g. Revised with each Prime update.
That would be more good reading, and an invaluable reference."

But, it kind of does. It is called the On Calc help (that Help key on the top right next to ESC)...
Hidden under there you have hundred of pages of help, with example (including program example!) and all the 'see also' and similar things that you had in the AUG...



Personally, I HATE the fact that products do NOT have user manuals. iPad, iPod, Windows... No user manuals. No getting started... NOTHING! not even the basis, you are supposed to "discover" everything!
Think about it for the iCrap, You have to do magic waving with your fingers at the thing for it to do things... But NOWHERE are they described! This is just such a pain!

Cyrille

Although I work for the HP calculator group, the views and opinions I post here are my own. I do not speak for HP.
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