RE: FW: Technologically Challenged

From: Justin R. Kidder (
Date: Fri Mar 27 1998 - 21:06:13 EET

On 27 Mar 1998, Brock Hinzmann wrote:

> Although RP can do little to fix directly the challenging technological
> problems described on Jeff's list, the relationship to RP is stronger than
> appears on the surface. The people in his examples may appear foolish, but
> they are genuine customers and they were genuinely frustrated by the
> products they paid genuine good money for. The earlier in the design process
> you can get a physical prototype in the hands of users and the sooner the
> tech writers can get a shot at describing how to use it, the sooner you'll
> find out what us fools will do with it and either change the design or
> change the manual to avoid potentially disastrous results. As someone on this
> mailing list used to sign off, (to the effect that) There is no such
> thing as foolproof to a sufficiently ingenious fool. The bottom line to that
> is, however, that nothing you produce is foolproof, you are just making a
> business decision about how close to foolproof you want to try to be. And
> once you build your reputation (and pricing structure) on being close to
> foolproof, you had better stick to it, or the competition will eat you
> alive.
> Brock, the Badger
> Technology Navigator

This is true, however, for a complex piece of equipment such as a computer
(in the case of the tech support jokes), even the foolish should attempt
to read the instruction manual when things don't go as planned. No amount
of preparation on the part of the engineer, the tech writers or anyone
else can help the person who isn't willing to help him/herself to some
small degree.

Justin Kidder, Research Asst. | Automation and Robotics Laboratory | University of Pittsburgh
               Home page:
       "Nothing is fool-proof to a sufficiently talented fool"

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