Thursday, May 15, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: Manual Labor Redux

Oops. Got delayed by bad weather (and then forgetfulness). . .

This week's Booking Through Thursday expands on last week's question:

Scenario: You’ve just bought some complicated gadget home . . . do you read the accompanying documentation? Or not?
Do you
ever read manuals?
How-to books?

Self-help guides?

Anything at all?

A complicated gadget, eh? I probably won't read the manual-- if I think I can "find my own way" without damaging the new toy. Sometimes I refer to the manual after several fruitless tries to get it to do whatever it is it's supposed to do. ;o) Sooner or later, I skim it to see if there are any cool functions I haven't already found on my own. And I definitely keep the manual (along with the receipt) in case I run into problems down the road.

I've read through at least certain sections of the various manuals that came with the car, and I learned a few useful things. (I was curious about all the different settings for the A/C and vent, how the passenger side airbag sensor thingy worked, etc.)

For "some assembly required" type things, yes, I read (and follow) the directions. I'd rather take a minute to read the instructions than ruin something by rushing through it.

Note to authors/editors: Manuals should be written in very short paragraphs or bulleted lists. There should be plenty of photos or illustrations. Seriously, you're lucky if I read it, even then. (g)

How-to books--
Yes, these I read. On a fairly frequent basis, actually. I read how-to books on crafts and gardening, especially. Now, I may not read them cover-to-cover, page-by-page. Most I dip into now and then or treat as references, but there are a few that I'll actually sit down and read. You know, like a real book. ;o)

Lately, we've been skimming through a variety of "do it yourself" style books on the subject of patios and other similar structures. I'm not sure how much Donald's been reading of them. I mostly look at the photos and read just the parts that seem relevant at the moment-- parts about placement and related considerations (shade, privacy, wind, and so on).

I guess cookbooks count as "how-to", as well. These I mostly skim until I find the recipe I want, but then I pay very close attention. Growing up, I had a couple of cooking/baking disasters where I used water instead of milk and put in the wrong measurements of things. I learned my lesson the hard way, but at least I never burned down the house. (g)

Note to authors/editors: How-to books need photos and/or illustrations. Without them, I'm just not interested. Oh, and when you refer to photos in the instructions, please be sure they are correctly labeled. Place the relevant text as near as possible to the photo. (Thank you! ;o))

I do a lot of my "how-to" reading online, these days. Yes, there's unreliable info out there, but if you're careful, you can fairly easily determine what's good and what's not.

Self-help guides--
I don't think I've read any self-help books. . . None come to mind, at least. Oh, well, maybe one. It was one of those "different genders come from different planets" relationship books. Somewhat interesting, somewhat "oh, give me a break!" It's certainly not a genre I frequently read. When I need help, I prefer to suffer in silence. Or suffer loudly, if anyone's around to listen. (g) (Just kidding! Kind of. . .)

Anything at all--
Food labels (especially one or two of the "nutritional facts" that I'm always keeping an eye on), subtitles (in foreign films-- or if Donald or I can't understand a heavy accent-- Sometimes we have to have them, but then I end up reading the dialog instead of watching the movie or program, because text draws my eye), medicine labels (dosing instructions), catalogs (sometimes, mostly I skim them), the occasional magazine (preferably those with no health articles, because I hate those things with a very passionate passion, to the point that I'd rather not even look at the magazine at all), my own notes (of which there are way too many floating around the house = I need to sort through them, consolidate the "good" ones into a few categorized stacks, and toss the rest), blogs, "twitters", comments on "my stuff" (my blogs, my photos at flickr, etc.), and so on.