Friday, August 28, 2009

Open Pouch. Eat.

When it comes to learning new software packages (and many other things, as well), there are two kinds of people in this world. Those who read the manuals and those who don't.

I'm a manual* reader. Whenever I get something new, my first order  of business is reading the owner's manual or instruction sheet (Buy a new camera. Read the manual. Buy a new laptop. Read the manual. Buy a new flavor of Pop Tarts. Read the manual.). How else will I know how to use the product to its maximum potential?

My thirst for knowledge isn't limited to the manual provided by the manufacturer. I'll often go and get a How-To book. I'm especially fond of Pop Tartst-for-dummies-book-coverthe Dummies or Idiot's Guide Series (insert your own joke here). And I like to read every page so I don't miss a single helpful hint or trick. Hey, you never know when you'll need to call up the Cyrillic alphabet font in order to compose that letter to Cyril.

I realize there are some people born with the ability to figure out how software works by just sitting down and banging on the keyboard. I'm not one of them. On those rare occasions I try that approach, I end up getting just far enough to mess things up. Then I get royally frustrated. Then I throw things and stomp my feet and say bad words. And the kicker: I have to read the manual anyway to figure out what to do. I say it's better to open the manual in the beginning.

Evidently, I haven't passed this gene on to my children. They just install their software, double-click, and dive right in. They don't need no stinking manual.

Oh well, at least I'll know who to go to for help.

Today's bonus quiz question: Can you guess what software package I've recently purchased?**



*On-line guides, PDF instruction documents, paper manuals--it doesn't really matter. Although, I do like the feel of paper in my hands...

**My wife made me promise to state the following, in CAPITAL LETTERS. THIS PHOTO LOOKS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING LIKE ALAN ORLOFF.



Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Wow, Alan! It looks like you've been taking steroids or something.

I don't like to read manuals so I try to figure out the software first. Then I mess something up in an unbelievably bad fashion and take out the manual. This scenario happens every time.

My kids seem to have a computer chip in their heads. No manuals for them.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Hey, you look like Jay Leno!

As someone who used to WRITE manuals for a living: bless your heart! There is loads of good info. in there. Keep up the good work!

Karen Walker said...

Photoshop? I don't read manuals. I find someone else to read them, then pray they'll show me. I learn by someone taking me thru step by step. Oy!

Alan Orloff said...

Elizabeth - No steriods, unless Gummi Bears count. And I think all kids have little computer chips in their brains.

Rebecca - I love a good user's manual almost as much as I love a good novel!

Karen - Yes, it's Photoshop. And I'm still plowing through the manual, but it's not going too well. That picture was supposed to look like Barack Obama!

Galen Kindley--Author said...

I’m a hybrid…of course, with me it’s always complicated. I open up whatever gadget it is and scan the manual or instructions at the same time. So, I’m not quite one, not quite the other, you can imagine the mess that ensues.

Best Regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Craig Hart said...

Like Elizabeth, I usually wing it first, break it, then sneak a peak at the manual and hope no one will notice.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I use the Jack W. Regan method. I think all software should be intuitive and so I jump in and try to figure it out on my own. It worked with Yahoo! SiteBuilder and it worked with Microsoft Publisher. It is not working with Photoshop.

Alan Orloff said...

Galen, Jack, and Patricia - I'd like to be able to jump right in, but sometimes it doesn't work too well. And, Patricia, I hope you pick up Photoshop quicker than I am!