Sunday, June 11, 2006

Why are manual publishers so spineless?

I just installed WillMaker Plus 2006 on my PC (hey, ya turn 50, you think of such things), and before I even looked at the manual - hey, it's nice to even get a manual on paper these days - I knew that if I turned it sideways - the way one puts a manual on a bookshelf - it would say... nothing.

And it does. I mean, it doesn't.

When in the name of Random House did makers of software/hardware/devices (cell phones for example) decide that even if a book is thick enough to have a spine, there should be no words on it to help people find the blasted thing later? Talk about lack of user-friendliness!

And there's another thing - why do folks like HP, who are in the same boat in terms of the Empty Spine Syndrome, also decide not to put everything in one manual, but instead to have two, three or four? Let's see, there's the Getting Started Guide, the PC Troubleshooting and System Recovery Guide, the Warranty and Support Guide, the PC Basics Guide, the Upgrading and Servicing Guide, the MONITOR Warranty and Support Guide....

Get the picture? Just try to figure out which has what. Of course, most of them are so thin, they are, well, spineless. And it may save them a dime or two, not to have to reprint everything when updating one of them, but ... c'mon folks, where's the usability in so many different guides to sort, stash, thumb through and, of course, lose the one you're looking for? (I will give them credit for putting them all in a zippered plastic bag, but... still...)

Oh, I know, its all on the PC, or on the CD/DVD, or online, so no worries! Poppycock and balderdash. If you're GONNA make paper manuals, which I do like, PLEASE make them useful and usable. And amongst all the useless shortcuts, desktop or start-menu-wise, why not create one to THE place online where all these manuals reside, in constantly updated fashion?

Dream on, I suppose. It's like asking why I need the French, Spanish and German version of every consumer manual I get. Not.

Still, if blogging is good for anything, it's good for venting.

So there!;-)