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#32287 - 12/23/14 09:34 AM The FineTunedMac Book
deniro Offline


Registered: 09/09/09
There's a lot of brainpower in these forums. Maybe some of you could consider pooling your efforts to write a troubleshooting book. It's a fine skill, and a hard one, to put complex matters into accessible prose.

Sometimes this forum is like school for me—except I actually learn something and enjoy it. I think the only thing I learned in public schools was the importance of filling in the bubble completely with a No.2 pencil. Remember that? The instructor was always so serious: We must use a No.2 pencil for the machine to read our answers. I never knew a kid in class who had anything but a No.2 pencil.

I worry that it's becoming old-fashioned to say I prefer reading paper books rather than e-books or online prose. But I much prefer having a book or manual to refer to, or to read in bed or a chair away from my computer, provided the book or manual is well-written, something companies don't seem to care much about it. I find little to praise in many books, manuals, and help screens when they exist. For many years, I've been reading David Pogue. Ted Landau used to write books. I read Joe Kissell's Mac Security Bible cover to cover. Fine book. I wish he'd write a new edition. I find the Dummies books to be hit or miss. But, to be blunt, I don't like being called a Dummie or a Compelete Idiot. I am neither. I wish the publishing industry felt the same. I'm a grown man, educated, perhaps decent and semi-intelligent. I don't want a book that calls me an idiot, assumes I am one, or treats me like one. I wonder if anyone agrees with me.


Edited by deniro (12/23/14 09:37 AM)
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#32288 - 12/23/14 02:12 PM Re: The FineTunedMac Book [Re: deniro]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
That's an interesting idea. Do you mean a book put together from posts and threads here, or an entirely new book written by FTM contributors?
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#32298 - 12/24/14 07:22 AM Re: The FineTunedMac Book [Re: deniro]
joemikeb Online
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
An interesting idea but your preference for printed books, which I share to a certain extent, has a built in problem in today's computer environment. Things change so rapidly that by the time a book is written, gets printed, distributed, and into the user's hand it is out of date, perhaps badly out of date. For example there are recent threads in these forums abut the fact the standard technique of deleting preference files as a trouble shooting technique no longer works in Yosemite. At least with an online or eBook the cost and delay of printing can be eliminated.
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#32301 - 12/24/14 11:12 AM Re: The FineTunedMac Book [Re: joemikeb]
deniro Offline


Registered: 09/09/09
It is a problem, esp. for printed books.

I didn't know that about preferences in Yosemite, an operating system I have no desire to use.

Books about operating systems, esp. on the Mac, do get outdated more than they used to. It depends on just how much has changed. Some people will buy the older book just because it's cheaper and because it will address some facets of their operating system or computer.
Authors would have to consider before they write just how much has changed from system to another. I know that some things don't change. How many I don't know.

I moved up to Snow Leopard this year. I bought and now use a couple Snow Leopard books that I like. Got both for a song. I'm very happy with my system now. It does everything I want it to. I can't use the App Store, but then I don't like it very much, my expendable income is very small, and I already have plenty of neat programs that I don't use.

E-books (or .pdfs) seem like a good idea, but I've never bought any.


Edited by deniro (12/24/14 11:18 AM)
_________________________
OS X 10.11.6
iMac 21.5", Mid 2011
2.8 GHz Intel Core i7, 24 GB
AMD Radeon HD 6770M
Using Apple computers since 1980

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#32302 - 12/24/14 11:41 AM Re: The FineTunedMac Book [Re: deniro]
deniro Offline


Registered: 09/09/09
What I've started doing is cutting and pasting posts which interest me, such as the Quicken font thread I started in the Other OSes forum. That information was valuable, not just the information that pertained to my current purposes, but the history that some of the posters knew. Should that knowledge and information being given away online for free? That knowledge has come from hard work.

My own knowledge of computers has come through decades of learning on my own, largely by trial and error and my own experience and wits, not from school or from a teacher or friend—and of course from this web site. For how many years? Going back to Macfixit? Even in those days I never knew anyone near me who used a Mac except eventually the public library. There was no one I could talk to, whether for help or pleasure. Just me and my magazines, magazines I paid for and learned from. I even read the ads, dreaming of the day I would have money. I'm still dreaming.

Sometimes I wonder about people putting their knowledge online without getting paid for it. That goes even for people who make comments at the end of an article on some site. There's nothing to keep the writers on that site from using the end comments for story ideas. I don't want to get into copyright, but my understanding is that once you put your work online anyone can claim it and use it. Even it's illegal, it's going to happen. I believe everyone ought to be paid for their efforts. The acquisition of knowledge takes effort. Disseminating it in clear language takes effort. But when an author puts his work online, anyone can cut and paste it.

If I were a writer of any kind, I wouldn't want to put my stuff, esp. my best stuff, online without getting sufficient pay—or no pay. I wouldn't want to write a joke or comic sketch only to see it show up on Jimmy Fallon without my having earned a dime.
_________________________
OS X 10.11.6
iMac 21.5", Mid 2011
2.8 GHz Intel Core i7, 24 GB
AMD Radeon HD 6770M
Using Apple computers since 1980

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#32331 - 12/27/14 01:38 PM Re: The FineTunedMac Book [Re: deniro]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
Originally Posted By: deniro
Sometimes I wonder about people putting their knowledge online without getting paid for it. That goes even for people who make comments at the end of an article on some site. There's nothing to keep the writers on that site from using the end comments for story ideas. I don't want to get into copyright, but my understanding is that once you put your work online anyone can claim it and use it. Even it's illegal, it's going to happen.


One of my partners complains to me all the time that I give away too much of my writing for free--an odd habit as I'm now a professional writer.

It's a difficult thing to balance. On the one hand, I, like most of the working writers I know, never chose to be a writer; writers write because we have to write, we're compelled to write, not because we want to write. It's easy to write online. smile

More to the point, giving away some of your writing for free builds a base. The polyamory book I just wrote, More Than Two, is selling amazingly well for an indie writer with no marketing---4,000 copies in its first three months! That's almost unheard-of for a first-time nonfiction indie book.

Part of the reason is I've been writing about polyamory on the Web for free for a very long time (I first started in 1998 or 1999).

With tech writing, which does go stale fast, the way you sell books is to establish credibility and show you know what you're talking about, and the way you do that is...write for free.

But, of course, if you ONLY write for free, it becomes a time sink that never produces anything of value for you. There's also this weird thing where you gain credibility by writing for free, then you publish a book and now suddenly you gain MORE credibility, so more people read the stuff you put online, which increases the interest in your next book...and 'round and 'round it goes.
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#32337 - 12/28/14 08:59 AM Re: The FineTunedMac Book [Re: deniro]
joemikeb Online
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: deniro
If I were a writer of any kind, I wouldn't want to put my stuff, esp. my best stuff, online without getting sufficient pay—or no pay. I wouldn't want to write a joke or comic sketch only to see it show up on Jimmy Fallon without my having earned a dime.

Those of us who are the moderators and administrators of FIneTunedMac not only do this free of charge, but we actually spend money from our own pockets to license the forum software and pay the hosting fees. I would not presume to speak for anyone else at FineTunedMac, but I do this because I enjoy helping my fellow Mac users, it keeps my mind active, I continue to learn more about Macs and computing every day, and because it is fun. I flatter myself that I am a skilled software design engineer and of necessity a good technical writer with over forty years experience developing software as well as teaching at the community college, university, graduate school, and industry levels usually two or more of those at the same time. If I were doing this to make money it would immediately become work with accountability, schedules, due dates, etc. This way it is something I do in my spare time because I enjoy it and not because I have to or have a paycheck dependent on it.

Tacit speaks eloquently of his need to write, a calling which I honor and respect, but almost any successful author will tell you they maintain rigorous and demanding work schedules often more demanding than those expected in my previous occupations. I have had it with 60 and 70 hour work weeks. I retired because I was up to my eyeballs with job demands and I am highly unlikely to trade an employer's demands and expectations for more demanding ones of my own making.
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#32341 - 12/29/14 12:52 PM Re: The FineTunedMac Book [Re: joemikeb]
deniro Offline


Registered: 09/09/09
Thanks for the thoughtful answers. Taking complex material and turning it into readable prose is an impressive skill, one that I lack.

It's always interesting to hear writers say that they write because of a compulsion. I don't think I ever had a compulsion. When I was a kid, all I wanted to do was play basketball. But nature made me too small to move very far in that direction. One grade-school teacher suggested I become a sportswriter. Nah. Sports today is nothing like it was when I was a kid. For me, writing is a lot of work with few rewards, none of them financial.

I appreciate the knowledge people here have gained and given away. I know that we live in a time when, perhaps more than ever, information means power and money. I'm not a huge fan of Neil Young, except for the album Harvest Moon, but I saw him interviewed on Charlie Rose recently. He's a suprisingly bright guy, though a burned-out stoner and crank. He remarked that music is now known as content, content like any other: TV programs, movies, web sites. Food? He's right, I think, and maybe the change is not all bad, but it is a signficant change and a challenge.

I would still like to see valuable content in computer books. I find books esp. helpful with Windows. Whenever I use Windows, it takes a long time to do anything because I have to learn so much and remember it, even the basics of the operating system like how to find programs, install them, or uninstall them—and that's with built-in search and uninstall capabilities. I had to learn how to turn off the computer. And it took me quite awhile to figure it out. Holy crap. There are too many menus and taskbars. There are too many options and preferences, many of them written in tangled language about functions whose purpose is often unclear or useless. The OS assumes I understand how it works before I can get to work. The OS demands that I learn so much. There is too much information, too much noise. I can't imagine beginners making sense of all the discontinuous multiplicity.

I remain shocked that so many people are essentially forced to use such a counterintuitive, confusing, piecemeal system. My poor parents. I remain disappointed that more effort isn't put into interfaces, directions, and help screens to make the OS and programs easier to use. Wasn't that Steve Jobs's desire to begin with? To built a computer that anyone could use?

Last week on Windows 8.1, which I consider a huge improvement over what I used before (XP), I spent two hours downloading and then uninstalling a free anti-virus program. Like many other Windows programs and elements of the OS, there are so many pop-ups, reminders, and intrusions. Leave me alone and let me work, like the Mac does.

ETA: I digressed, as usual. If you want to move some of this post, go ahead.


Edited by deniro (12/29/14 01:08 PM)
_________________________
OS X 10.11.6
iMac 21.5", Mid 2011
2.8 GHz Intel Core i7, 24 GB
AMD Radeon HD 6770M
Using Apple computers since 1980

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#32343 - 12/29/14 03:21 PM Re: The FineTunedMac Book [Re: deniro]
joemikeb Online
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: deniro
I find books esp. helpful with Windows. Whenever I use Windows, it takes a long time to do anything because I have to learn so much and remember it, even the basics of the operating system like how to find programs, install them, or uninstall them—and that's with built-in search and uninstall capabilities.

The authors of Windows books are looking at a version life of four or five years while on the Mac there is a new version every 18 months. That gives Windows authors a lot more time to rest on their residuals while Mac authors had to be already working on the successor to Yosemite while Yosemite was still in Beta. The Mac HAS to be easier to use or no one could ever keep up. grin
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