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#955139 - 03/15/01 02:00 PM Do You Read Manuals?
Anderton Offline
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Registered: 01/28/00
Posts: 7377
It's a common saying that musicians don't read manuals. So what's your relationship with manuals? Do you read 'em? Toss 'em? Prefer PDF files over printed? Printed over PDF? Do you care about having applications notes with your manuals? Any manuals you thought were really good or really bad? Sound off!!
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Craig Anderton
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#955140 - 03/15/01 02:09 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Calfee Jones Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/25/00
Posts: 395
Loc: Memphis USA
Yes, I read the manuals - most of the time. Of course, not all the way through, and not at one sitting. But usually you can learn something from manuals that you can't learn from just hacking.

PDF's are OK, but I would rather have a booklet in my hand when I am facing a new piece fo gear.
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#955141 - 03/15/01 02:11 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
BP3 Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 07/31/00
Posts: 6524
I prefer printed manuals. PDFs are a pain to read on the computer and costly to print. PDFs would be fine for short updates and the like.

The biggest problem with manuals is when they are originally written in a foriegn language, the transmangled into what we receive. An old Korg manual I have states "Insert disc verily quedgewise into the drive", later in the same manual the section about naming sequences was titled "Maming proceedure". Good for a laugh, but not helpful when you need info.

I bought the MX2424 a while ago and there was no manual for the ViewNet software for months. This caused an overload of questions about VN on their forum, and I would bet the same increased traffic for their phone support. This would be avoided if the manual shipped with the product. All this said - Jim and the support staff at Tascam are as good as any I've been with.

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#955142 - 03/15/01 02:22 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Nika Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 03/22/01
Posts: 2938
Loc: Ft Wayne,IN,UNITED STATES
Craig,

Great question. I can tell you that I don't READ manuals, but I keep them handy and reference them if I run into a problem.

Nika.
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#955143 - 03/15/01 02:28 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Lee Flier Offline
10k Club

Registered: 09/13/00
Posts: 15398
Loc: Atlanta,GA,UNITED STATES
I ALWAYS read manuals. In fact, I try to read them cover to cover, and even if something doesn't apply to me I skim it just to get an overall idea what it will do, so that in case I ever need to do that thing I'll know where to look.

I have almost a photographic memory for research, so that helps. Even if I don't remember the exact details of something I read, I almost always can remember the fact that I once read it, and where to find it again. So it really pays for me to read manuals because I will then know everything my gear is capable of. Lots of times on user groups, for example, somebody will say "Why can't this piece of gear do [whatever]?" And the fact is that it can, and that the guy obviously hasn't read the manual. Especially with really complex gear, features can be buried deep in a menu or something, and if you don't read the manual you'll just miss out on the fact that it's even there.

And I vastly prefer printed manuals over PDF's or other online format. My photographic memory goes all to hell if the documentation web site changes.

That said, a lot of manuals SUCK. I think I've complained before about the Yamaha AW4416's manuals. They spell out the machine's individual functionals clearly enough, but do not make much attempt to relate those functions to anything. I'd really pity a beginning engineer who bought one. I'd think it would be much easier to get people excited about a machine like this one if an applications manual were included that gave examples of using the various features.

Still, even reading a sucky manual to me is better than not reading it, and it's worth the extra time. I do wish the manufacturers would hire some real writers - like Craig maybe! - to write their manuals, they'd probably save a lot on tech support calls. Maybe the reason so few people read manuals is because most of them are so boring when they don't have to be?

--Lee
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#955144 - 03/15/01 02:31 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
rumpelstiltskin. Offline
spinning gold from straw
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Registered: 06/10/00
Posts: 5010
Loc: detroit, MI, united states
i try to read manuals before i even buy, but that rarely happens. i most definitely read the manuals before i use the machines, though.

i bought a boss PH-3 phase shifter and by reading the manual i discovered that it has a tap tempo feature, something that the sales guys at the store didn't even know about.

in earning a degree in electrical engineering, i've learned that reading the manual is a very good idea, and that if you have any questions about how to do something, the engineer who designed the feature made sure to explain it to the best of his/her ability in the manual.
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#955145 - 03/15/01 02:34 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Chip McDonald Offline
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Registered: 01/19/00
Posts: 4792
Loc: Augusta, Ga. USA
Quote:
Originally posted by Anderton:
. So what's your relationship with manuals? Do you read 'em? Toss 'em? Prefer PDF files over printed?


I never read them, unless there is a feature that is non-intuitively designed.

OR

A device has to much stuff crammed into it with a minimal display. FOR INSTANCE...


The Roland VS-880.

The WORST manual I've ever come across in my life. Roland isn't exactly known for good manuals, but the VS-880's is so obfuscated it's unreal. Then again, we're talking about a device that has a "snatch mode"....


HAVING SAID THAT,

Having online VS-880 resources has been more informative than the manual.
Being able to do searches for specific topics has revealed more useful info than the manual.

I think some companies (cougholand...., coughamaha...) - would do well to try to put more effort into making their more low-level interfaces user friendly. I think this will get better as capabilities of IC's increase to the point where things don't have to be abbreviated in the interface, and things aren't as "crammed in".

http://www.mp3.com/chipmcdonald
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#955146 - 03/15/01 02:47 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
d gauss Offline
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Registered: 02/15/01
Posts: 3231
Loc: Somewhere in the Swamps of Jer...
c-console for the yamaha dsp factory. while incomplete it is an excellent manual. on the other hand, my new "superwank 5000" blow-up doll didn't even come with a manual...anybody know how to work one of these things....

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#955147 - 03/15/01 02:55 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Graham English Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 02/13/01
Posts: 335
Loc: Somerville, MA USA
I always read the manual- front to back. When I get a piece of gear (which isn't often enough), I learn every feature as deeply as I can. In some cases, I may not even need those features but I still try to learn them. I like to be fully prepared when inspiration strikes.
I can't stand PDFs. I don't mind them as supplementation. In fact, I don't mind having the whole manual on PDF in addition to a printed manual. With the PDFs, I can take them to work and study them when nobody's looking But I can't take the PDF to the back yard while the sun is out. We hardly get enough light as it is!
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#955148 - 03/15/01 03:04 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Yuri T. Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 02/27/01
Posts: 656
Loc: ,,UNITED STATES
When necessary. Sometimes schematics. I was poring over the ground buss in my 16 track yesterday.

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#955149 - 03/15/01 03:16 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
miroslav Offline
Cosmic Cowboy
10k Club

Registered: 05/23/00
Posts: 14215
Loc: NY Hudson Valley, USA
Quote:
Originally posted by Chip McDonald:
The Roland VS-880.

The WORST manual I've ever come across in my life. Roland isn't exactly known for good manuals, but the VS-880's is so obfuscated it's unreal.



Roland manual...that is THE classic oxymoron!!!

But I have the VS-880 "manual" beat...
The Roland D-70 keyboard "manual"(circa early 90s).

That "manual" sucked soooooo baaaaaad, that I telephone Roland in Japan one night to complain and clear up some "manual" gibberish. They actually connected me to one of the higher-ups who proceeded to explain things to me.
However, his English was not much better than what was in the D-70 "manual". So, I thanked him for his time, hung up the phone, and then threw the "manual" across the room.

These days, I usually get a screwdriver and pop the cover on a new *box* first and look inside, then I'll quickly thumb through the manual to see if there is anything that resembles REAL information (some manuals actually provide that). After that, I'll just use the manual as a reference when needed...which brings me to a real piss-off.


INDEXES!!!

To manufacturers/manual printers:
PLEASE include a good cross-referenced index. Nothing I hate more than when you look-up a questionable parameter or button for a *box* in the index, and... IT AIN'T THERE!

Even worse, is when it IS in the index, and you look it up...
THINGAMAJIG - P. 83

So you turn to P.83 and what do you find...
A !%#!*&! picture of the THINGAMAJIG!
I know what it looks like,...I want to know what is it for, how is it used, what about this and that...etc.




This message has been edited by miroslav on 03-15-2001 at 12:22 PM
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#955150 - 03/15/01 03:19 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Anonymous
Unregistered


Craig, you're a master when it comes to popping out questions that is hard to let go.

Manuals, Yes!!
I have a love-hate relationship to them.
I read them before even turning on the thing. Sometimes even twice.
My worst case was when I bought the K2500. Two fat bastards that took me like forever to get trough.
But it pays back after a while!!

I always have them as paper. If it's on PDF I print them.
( I do it at work so I don't pay for it)


------------------
--Smedis,--

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#955151 - 03/15/01 03:23 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
BK_dup2 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/19/01
Posts: 113
Quote:
Originally posted by Lee Flier:

That said, a lot of manuals SUCK. I think I've complained before about the Yamaha AW4416's manuals. They spell out the machine's individual functionals clearly enough, but do not make much attempt to relate those functions to anything. I'd really pity a beginning engineer who bought one.
--Lee[/B]



Lee-
I can relate to the Yamaha Manual crap-fest. I bought an EX5 a couple years back. The manual is basically worthless. Given I am no synth programmer -but if can understand the Roland VS1680 manual I figured the EX5 would be no worse -- I was wrong!!

My manual reading really only happens when I am on a long plane Flight, a long sit or need to reference a specific application.

I guess I feel like I should be playing not reading (I'm not sure thats a good philosophy). It's the old give and take i suppose.

Best
BK

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#955152 - 03/15/01 06:13 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
David R. Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 09/07/00
Posts: 1213
Loc: San Francisco,CA,UNITED STATES
Before I read the manual, I plug in whatever it is (or install) and try to use it. That usually holds me for the moment, then the tweaker in me emerges and I want to get into editing and need to know how to change this patch to that using this thingy. That's when the manual comes out. My favorite place to read manuals is (no, not the bathroom) a sushi restraunt 5 blocks from my place.

I love printed manuals, and if it is only PDF, I print it out. Manufactures should have a copy online for those that need it. I have bought many pieces of used gear without manuals, and I really wish I could download one when needed.

-David R.
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-David R.

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#955153 - 03/15/01 06:49 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Max Ventura Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 11/13/00
Posts: 511
Loc: Bergamo, Italy
I have a look at manuals sometimes, before I buy, to see whether some functions I need are there at all.
Other than that, since I do not buy equipment that I cannot grasp at a glance, I don' t read them. I keep them just to find out a few hidden features but, in general, I must say that manuals never ever satisfy me. I havent found a manual yet I could say "now this is a really well written one!" Yamaha is one of the worst at it.
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#955154 - 03/15/01 08:57 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Curve Dominant Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 10/29/00
Posts: 4223
Loc: Philadelphia USA
The following is an exact quote from a guy at Roland tech support (whose name I will refrain from printing): "We wouldn't have jobs if the manuals made sense." How's THAT for being candid. They are always cool, those folks, and immensely helpful.

I write the tech-support phone numbers on the covers of my manuals because they invariably leave something out, or in the case of Roland where they leave entire chapters out. I'm getting more fluent in Japenglish as I get more Roland gear, tho.
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#955155 - 03/15/01 09:04 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Anderton Offline
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Registered: 01/28/00
Posts: 7377
I see more manufacturers starting to bundle videos with their manuals. Do you find these useful at all? Are there alternative approaches to teaching gear that would work better than manuals?
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Craig Anderton
*check out my podcast at www.cyberears.com

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#955156 - 03/15/01 09:14 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
d gauss Offline
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Registered: 02/15/01
Posts: 3231
Loc: Somewhere in the Swamps of Jer...
<>

i think having bob clearmountain come over to your house to show you "hands on" how to work your new SSL would be a dandy way to learn....

would probably be a bit more expensive than a PDF though.

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#955157 - 03/16/01 05:37 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
dansouth Offline
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Registered: 09/01/00
Posts: 3915
Loc: Metuchen,NJ,UNITED STATES
Quote:
Originally posted by Anderton:
I see more manufacturers starting to bundle videos with their manuals. Do you find these useful at all? Are there alternative approaches to teaching gear that would work better than manuals?


The AW4416 video is excellent. It presents the main features of the machine at a very low level that any user can understand. Of course, in typical mind-boggling Yamaha fashion, they don't package the video with the unit. You get one mailed to you when you fill out the warranty card. By that time, you've struggled to learn this stuff from the manual or by trial and error and you need the ADVANCE FEATURES VIDEO - just made that up - instead of the RAW NEWBIE VIDEO.

I have yet to read a manual cover to cover. It just doesn't make sense to me in linear fashion. I like to jump around. I read about one feature and try it, then I get curious as to how to do something else. I research that, and it makes me think about something else. Because of this non-linear approach, a good, thorough index is a manual's most important feature. Even if the prose is clear as mud, as long as I can cross reference things, I'll eventually figure them out. Any manual without a totally kick ass index is a big disappointment, but I try to slog through it anyway, because the tips and insights that you discover along the way are invaluable to your productivity with the unit.

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#955158 - 03/16/01 05:56 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Ang1970 Offline
Member

Registered: 03/12/01
Posts: 6
Loc: Ludlow, MA, USA
I like .pdf's. Searching in them is like having an index with every word printed in the manual.

It depends on the piece of gear whether I skip, skim, or buckle down.

The Logic Audio manual is one of the most cryptic I've ever come across.
Yamaha has some doozies too. SY88... that manual made me forget that I was an experienced synth programmer. Hell, it made me forget I knew the english language!

Ahem...

------------------
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#955159 - 03/16/01 06:02 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Curve Dominant Offline
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Registered: 10/29/00
Posts: 4223
Loc: Philadelphia USA
Roland bundles a demo video with the VS - I would get on Yamaha to do the same. The VS video was a good antectdote to the sometimes baffling printed manual - it contained illustrations of key functions that were not explained in print. I must admit, though, the Roland manuals do function well as references. I have a compartment in my console for them, and once I got past the basic roadblocks, they are actually very well organized and highly detailed as "on-the-job" references. I suspect it might be asking too much to expect flawless instruction books on machines that are at once highly complicated and relatively new. Props to the Roland tech-support folks in Cali - when I'm on the phone with them, I can practically hear the machines humming in the background as they are being trouble-shot. They really got their gear figured out inside and out, from quirks in various software versions to the right choices for peripherals, and they always - yes, 100% always - guide me easily through ANY problems. I was on the phone with those folks several times a week for the first few weeks I had the VS about a year ago, and I just spoke with them the other day concerning data storage media options. Give those folks a case of beer on me any day.
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#955160 - 03/16/01 06:37 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Uh Clem Offline
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Registered: 03/13/00
Posts: 3443
Loc: Atlanta, GA USA
I like manuals to read when I first get a new piece, but after that, for reference, I prefer the PDFs and download them if I can - much faster to search thru than paper manuals - enter the term and find it - much faster.
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#955161 - 03/16/01 08:41 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
aeon Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 01/14/01
Posts: 1772
Loc: Lothlorien
Quote:
originally posted by Craig Anderton:
So what's your relationship with manuals? Do you read 'em? Toss 'em? Prefer PDF files over printed? Printed over PDF? Do you care about having applications notes with your manuals? Any manuals you thought were really good or really bad?


I read 'em. I love 'em. A well-written manual is a pleasure. In fact, when a manufacturer provides .pdf manuals on their website I download them and read them thoroughly, and they have a large influence on my purchasing decisions.

A full printed manual that ships with the product is a must. The recent trend for some manufacturers to only provide a starter guide and CD-ROM is a real scam and I feel it will come back to hurt the companies in the long run.

I generally don't need application notes because of my ability to grok technodweeb things. Having said that, app notes are are always welcome, especially when they show off something really tight that wouldn't necessarily be immediately obvious. Also, I don't like it when a manual is broken into "tutorial" and "reference" books. A well-written manual integrates both aspects into a single reference such that each aspect illuminates the other and leads to greater understanding for the reader.

My usual procedure when I get a new piece of gear (for which I have not read the manual) is to read the "dangerous voltages and setup notes" chapter in a frenzy and then plug my toy in and go to town. A piece of equipment that is well-designed and engineered should be operable with 90% functionality without the use of a manual. When I feel I have explored the gear to its fullest, I read the manual cover-to-cover, making note of the things I did not discover and things that I assumed incorrectly.

Worst manual I have ever seen? Oh. My. God. Roland DJ-70 to be sure...translated from Italian to Japanese to English. The Lexicon MPX 500 manual was fairly lame.

Best manuals I have seen? All of t.c. electronic's manuals are quite good; in particular, the FireworX manual is very well-done. The Clavia Nord Modular manual is excellent. The Lexicon PCM-81 manual is meaty and a good read. The ProTools TDM v4 manuals get good marks from me. The manuals for the Sony DPS-V77 are peach.
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#955162 - 03/16/01 10:46 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
soapbox Offline
Original Forumite
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Registered: 01/05/01
Posts: 3688
A few things:

1) I’d love to have manuals in Paper, PDF, and DVD. Cubase had (still has?) QuickTime tutorial movies on their install CD-ROM, very cool!

2) I started with Logic Audio at version 2.0. At that time, their owner’s manual was a patchwork of addendums written in English English (as opposed to American English). It took me a minute to figure out why a "drop out" was a desirable thing.

3) Roland manuals in the late 80s/early 90s used the word "Repert" a lot. (I think they meant "Repeat.")

4) I just went through more than three hundred and fifty pages and an ink cartridge on my LaserJet printing up Unity DS-1 and Osmosis manuals. Then, it cost me $10 to bind them at Kinko’s. Aaarrrggg!!!
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#955163 - 03/16/01 11:44 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
DC Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 01/17/01
Posts: 2706
Loc: here to eternity...
I like pdf's on websites just to check new gear before purchase. I want a printed manual included with new gear. I tend to skim manuals before trying a new piece, but a lot of my impression of a device comes from 'hands on' and how little I need the manual, so I'll dive in and pull out the manual when I get stuck. Here is where a good index is really helpful. Unless they are terribly written, I eventually read all manuals cover to cover.

Pet peeves:

Trouble shooting guides tend to deal with brain dead, comman sense issues that only complete beginners would wonder about.

There is always info omitted, such as hold these two buttons and power on to re-init...

Multi-language manuals where I've gotta carry around all this extra paper I can't read.

Good manual writers; Emu, Mesa, Mackie, Boss (very different from Roland), Cake 9 is not bad for software.
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#955164 - 03/16/01 04:17 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Master Zap Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 12/22/00
Posts: 698
Loc: -,,SWEDEN
Read Manuals? OF COURSE. You mean there is other kind of reading?

I sometimes whip out manuals and read for pleasure. E.g. the Ensoniq TS-12 manual was read front-to-back back in the day. Same for the K2500 manual at the time. I even looked at the video but that sucked due to the bad hair guy playing horried 70's keyboard solo's all the time instead of anything remotely 90's

Funny is that I hardly read the Nord Modular manual - didn't need to, it was all obvious. I used it as a reference once in a while but that was about it.

In general, though, i dispise people who dont read the manual and I watch them use 4% of the potential of their gear coz they are to stupid/lazy/stubborn whatever to learn the gear. Morons. You havn't used a piece of equipment until you have used 249% of its features plus at least three ways of using it the manifacturers never anticipated.

/Z


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#955165 - 03/16/01 04:37 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Mats Olsson. Offline
10k Club

Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 14459
Loc: Eskilstuna,,SWEDEN
I always (well, almost always) read manuals. In my experience, Roland manuals are often lousy and complicated. I also hate when there is only a manual as a PDF on a CD, or worse - as download. But if a printed manual is included in the package it is always nice when there is a download version available, I often download and print a manual before trying out or purchasing a new product. I also often do that if I'm about to rent gear I have not used earlier. Download is a blessing when buying used stuff and the manual is missing.

When reading gear rewievs in magazines, I really like if the quality of the manual is being given a good workout. An inspiring and well written manual can give a lot of creative input on how to use the thing. I have also often wondered why there is not an instructional video included in the package.

It is also too rare with manuals translated to languages other than English/German/French/Spanish/Japanese. When buying expensive non-music equipment there is often a manual available in my own language (Swedish), but almost never for music gear no matter how much they cost. A download or PDF for the non-major languages would be acceptable, I realize that printing is expensive.
In a few odd cases there has been Swedish manuals included (Tascam 244 Portastudio, Korg M1 comes to mind) but they have been condensed - to really get to now all functions you still have to open the English manual. The worst rip-off is when there is a Swedish manual but you have to pay extra for it! So why should I buy products in Sweden when I can get them cheaper elsewhere? I can still order the Swedish fucking manual at an additional cost, can't I ?


/Mats
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#955166 - 03/21/01 08:36 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
fasttraxx Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/23/00
Posts: 204
Loc: ,CA,UNITED STATES
I seem to start with the idea I will read this manual and get all this abundance of information, and I will know everthing about this thing. Then about halfway or less through the manual, I will get this bored feeling, like watching a boring movie. I will totally get tired of trying to retain all this informaton. I will just keep it by my side when it's needed. For me, when I can have the luxury of being in front of what ever it is I am trying learn and I am reading the manual, I can act it out at the same time, then I seem learn much easier(faster).
On another note. I read a good portion of Logic Audio's Platnum 4.0 manual. That was like reading Chinese. I read it over and over. i finally got a Cool Breeze CD-Rom which helped me get going in the right direction ten times faster. I wish all programs (audio) came with a video or CD-Rom tutorial.

------------------
Thanks and God Bless!
Y.B.I.C.
Bill
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Y.B.I.C.
Bill

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#955167 - 03/21/01 10:34 AM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
Anonymous
Unregistered


Quote:
Originally posted by mats.olsson@rockfile.se:
I can still order the Swedish fucking manual at an additional cost, can't I ?


/Mats


Is there a manual for this??
And a Swedish one also!
Didn't you learn in school how to do it?




------------------
--Smedis,--

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#955168 - 03/21/01 12:53 PM Re: Do You Read Manuals?
ha ha faa_Q Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/18/01
Posts: 117
Loc: Barcelona, España
I work for Coca-Cola as a technical writer. Most of my time at work is spent designing and writing software documents. I have yet to see a clearly written task-oriented manual that clearly and concisely explains how to perform complex procedures. Almost all manuals are cluttered with conceptual crap that masks more important information. Chances are the manuals were written by the coders in a language that only the coders will understand.

-- Jimmy

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