Monthly Archives: April 2016

Both Season

What season is it in your area? Currently, in my area, it is late both.

Both is a time of the year when it is difficult to tell what weather one should prepare for. Going out of town, do I pack shorts or long pants?

I know: I will take both. I pack heavily as it is, and both makes this even worse.

It is much easier once Mother Nature has decided on the weather.

Odd Language #150: Normally

In a USENET post in alt.windows7.general, a poster claimed “I don’t use IE11. This might be the first or second time I opened that browser. I use Firefox normally.”

The issue: “normally” can mean “usually” or “not in an abnormal or perverted manner”. After all, Rule 34.

Puzzle #153: Book Arrangements

You have five reference books. Two of the books are a two-volume set. How many orders can you arrange the five books in if the two books in the two-volume set must be next to each other, but the order of the two volumes does not matter?

Submit your answer to Gene Wirchenko <genew@telus.net>. Your answer should be in the form of a proof. That means to show how your answer must be correct. The deadline is Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #151 Solution: More Money

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

Consistency and Quality

Consistency is good. Quality is good. If you had to choose only one of them, which would you go with, and why?

I follow quite a few on-line comics (and stories). While I enjoy quality, sometimes, a comic updates irregularly. It can be a put-off when I check yet again and there is no update. On the other hand, one that is not quite so good, I can enjoy more. The latter case happens, because I can rely on the updates. If updates are supposed to be on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Friday and rarely, if ever, are missed, I enjoy the story more than an excellent story that has not been updated for weeks.

Sometimes, I am inspired and have what I think is a fantastic blog topic. Other times, I barely manage to come up with something. I am on-time though.

Pick 1 or 2: 1) The pizza is not the greatest, but is always on time. 2) The pizza is excellent if you ever get it.

What do you think? Would you rather wait for perfection, or do you prefer a regular schedule? In which areas, do you prefer perfection, and in which areas, do you prefer a regular schedule?

Odd Language #149: It Doesn’t Matter

http://en.rocketnews24.com/2014/11/18/the-9-types-of-basketball-players-in-slam-dunk-which-type-are-you/ included the sentence: ‘”It doesn’t matter if I’m not the star of the team.”‘

The issue: It could mean ‘”It is not important that I be the star of the team.”‘ or ‘”If I’m not the star of the team, then who cares about the team?”‘ Ever played with someone who would mean the second reading?

Puzzle #152: Prime Births

One fine day, a prime number of babies were born in Whoville. The number of boy babies born was also prime, and so was the number of girl babies born. There were more boys than girls, but it was not at least twice as many. How many of each sex were born that day?

Submit your answer to Gene Wirchenko <genew@telus.net>. Your answer should be in the form of a proof. That means to show how your answer must be correct. The deadline is Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #150 Solution: Change

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

The Problem of Documentation for Beginners

Who likes writing documentation? Very few.

But, in many fields, it can be difficult to get started because of information that is left out of documentation. When one does not know much in an area, it is very easy for a missing piece of information to make it difficult or even impossible to proceed. I had this problem recently yet again with a software package. The package has a lot of features, but we are having trouble getting them in use.

Even something is written down, it can be difficult to find when one does not know much yet in the area.

What often is missing is documentation for the documentation. This would be what one needs to know get started and where one should go from there.

I am quite prepared to put in my time studying, but all too often, I have no idea where to profitably begin. Even if I get a result, I, all too often, find that there were some key pieces of information that would have made it much easier to get results.

Throwing the manual at me is often of little good. If I do not know an area, then one of the things that I do not know is how to evaluate the important of data in the area. One manual page is much like any other. Knowing which are the most important for getting started is quite valuable information for a newbie.

If you are ever documenting something for a beginner to use, please put together something that a beginner can work with and have confidence that it will work. Examples really help a lot. Remember, too, that someone may be an expert in an area but still not be able to use what you are documenting.

An accountant will not automatically know how to use an accounting package. Even if that accountant can figure out some of it, the other part may be quite unclear. Ever wonder why some software features rarely get used? Who can figure out how they work?

So, when documenting, please write to your audience’s knowledge level, put in everything needed (including examples) to get things started, and point out where to go from there.

Then, maybe, you can document the advanced features.