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Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/20/2015 12:27 PM

First, let me say that I searched high and low on Google and here for the answer to this question that has bothered me for years now.

Based solely on my own observations, it seems to me that 99% of those who come here asking questions about operating a piece of machinery (usually a generator, but not always) that are included in even the most basic operator's manuals/instructions, or simple operating issues are from a foreign country.

I'm wondering if the installation, operating and troubleshooting manuals and the manufacturer's contact information are all confiscated at some foreign ports of entry. Or, are they removed prior to export to those aforesaid foreign countries by our Customs Agents?

I've also come to suspect that at the point where those manuals, instructions and contact information are removed, there is a nameplate affixed with the following statement, "Whenever anything goes wrong with this equipment, or whenever you have a question about the color, power requirements, where to put fuel or connect the power, or if you are just afraid of talking directly into an inanimate object (telephone), or if you're just lonely, or need typing practice, or just want to exercise your electrons, contact, CR4 - Engineering Forum | IHS Engineering360".

Is it just me, or have others noticed this trend also?

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#1

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/20/2015 12:39 PM

All manuals should be emblazoned with RTFM, translated into the destination language.

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#2

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/20/2015 12:40 PM

Pretty sure, you noticed the trend, given that you were here 8 years to date,

How I wish, they would ask on line job. Here is like a social welfare, we don't get paid by our contribution, but its fun, since one is not obliged to give their best.

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#3

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/20/2015 2:06 PM

Maybe the equipment is stolen?

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/20/2015 2:25 PM

Could be but more than likely it's just old second hand or surplus equipment that gets bought on the cheap because it's no longer worth operating and servicing and thus comes with little to no service documentation or manuals.

Many businesses and government agencies sell their old nearly worn out or obsoleted equipment for near scrap price to anyone on public auction or similar 'as is where is salvage' sales methods.

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#6
In reply to #4

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/20/2015 4:42 PM

I don't doubt what you say.

But, somewhere there must be a name on the machine that the new abuser user can find and use to get information about their new, worn out piece of equipment.

How come they can find us the, "Engineers Place For News and Discussion" not the "Desperate Equipment Users Place For Free Advice" and not a real source of information for their machine.

Laziness, desperation and the allure of free advice come to mind.

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#15
In reply to #6

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 12:17 AM

When you're into maintenance services of equipment, usually the former contractor keeps all the manuals when they go and owner or owner side in-charge failed to keep their property.

Worst is, some modification was done and you have no idea what or where to trace certain connections. (Below is an example of good engineering/IT wiring, looks like xmas deco, nope may be halloween party)

I'd rather design(controls) than troubleshoot such equipment.

One more thing is, management will often choose the lowest bid, which also comes incompetent and incapacitated personnel.

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#34
In reply to #6

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 4:11 PM

I truly believe it is laziness.

What's easier than typing a half assed question in a forum with a description of the machinery. Almost every long time member is able to find the manual using a very simple "GOOGLE" search and it usually shows in the first hit too?

Laziness I say!

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#42
In reply to #34

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/22/2015 10:22 AM

That's really one of undeniable factor.

Probably, this is due to lack of value towards work and education. Some work just for living, some work because it's just their purpose or role in life.

To much is given, much is expected.

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#5

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/20/2015 4:34 PM

About 10 years ago, I was in an interview with candidates for an Instrument Tech position at my plant. After asking all the usual questions, the last question I asked was for the calibration procedure for a "Great Lakes model:XXXXX pH meter". We did not have the manual because the operators (who shouldn't have been touching it) confiscated the manual and lost it.

Same thing with every person: Where is the manual? After explaining that we didn't have the manual, they all basically shrugged "can't tell you without the manual". Until the last person. He asked if he could have access to a computer, found and downloaded the manual. We hired him.

I suspect that tcmtech is correct about why they don't have the manual, but that doesn't answer the question why that can't find it online. You would have to pull a miracle out of your ar$e to convince me that a non political manufacturers website is blocked, but CR4 which has at least a little political banter is not blocked.

So, in conclusion, while Solar Eagle is a nice person who gives them a link to the manual, my personal preference is your grumpy old "How to search the internet" answer. Teach them to fish.

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#10
In reply to #5

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/20/2015 7:08 PM

"I suspect that tcmtech is correct about why they don't have the manual, but that doesn't answer the question why that can't find it online."

You really need to work with my wife to understand how that works.

Basically some people find themselves to be too important to have to stoop so low as to have to figure out (think about) what words or wording will get them the best/correct results on a internet search engine.

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#11
In reply to #5

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/20/2015 8:08 PM

Ahem, I have taught many people to fish....

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#17
In reply to #11

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 6:28 AM

GA ! An excellent book, no doubt.

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#21
In reply to #5

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 9:35 AM

This site is "on line"

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#31
In reply to #5

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 3:12 PM

What would you have done if there was no manual online?

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#55
In reply to #31

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

08/23/2016 8:24 AM

It did have a procedure of attempting it on his own.... that should have a few points.

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#7

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/20/2015 5:14 PM

Oftentimes instructions are translated from a foreign language, and the ones I have read indicate the translator's native language was the foreign language and not English And I suspect sometimes the technical details might not be familiar to the translator. (I would think the same would be true for instructions translated into Spanish, French, Italian, or whatever, but let us assume English.)

Now if the instructions are translated into broken English and the user's native language is not English, I would imagine that it would be twice as confusing.

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#8
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Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/20/2015 5:44 PM

Yeah, you get stuff like English "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" coming out in Russian as "the vodka is great but the meat is spoiled."

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#28
In reply to #8

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 1:55 PM

My Russian friend will get a kick out of that!

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#9
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Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/20/2015 6:17 PM

I have read manuals that I thought must have been translated from English to Chinese, then to Hindi and back to English.

Don't you think that the translated manual, no matter how poorly done, might still contain understandable information such as the manufacturer's name, address, telephone number and numerous web sites?

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#12
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Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/20/2015 11:58 PM

Several years ago a supplier gave me a baseball hat with their logo on it. Nothing outstanding, just another hat. The inside label said it was made in Bangladesh. When I went to put it on there was a small piece of paper with fine print on it. About 10 languages on it with something in fine print. Figured out a few languages were Spanish, French, some sort of Arabic and maybe Russian among them but no English.

Went to one of our Spanish speaking employees and asked her what it said. She replied, "Adjust size with rear strap". It was good they included instructions because I couldn't find a front strap to adjust the size with. Such a technical thing may be beyond the comprehension of an engineer!

After all that I gave it to her for her son. At least he knows how to adjust the size!

Good Luck, Old Salt

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#56
In reply to #7

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

08/23/2016 8:25 AM

I experienced that on CNC equipment. The manual was poorly translated from Japanese. The only thing reliable was the ladder logic.

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#13

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 12:08 AM

In order to properly understand/utilize any technical manual you generally need some background knowledge on its function, and that is what is lacking from those posters.

For example, one of my friends is a dentist, and I enjoy reading his trade publications that tout the latest in dental technology, but I am absolutely clueless when it comes to the background knowledge necessary to utilize them. I could go to the dental forums and post a question on how to use the XYZ dental implant system but I would quickly get laughed off of the site.

Fortunately I know my own limitations when it comes to dentistry, but I suspect unfortunately that many of the posters here "don't even know what they don't know" about engineering and expect to get a free education.

I used to go to the various generating stations in our system and teach the COs (Control Operators) the "how and whys" of what happens when they operated the generator controls. It was an eye opening experience to see how much of what they did was based on rote training, and how little was based on any formal understanding of the underlying concepts. The flip side of this is that none of these folks would ever consider themselves capable of doing any engineering on these systems, unlike some of the posters we get here.

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#29
In reply to #13

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 2:32 PM

The rote stuff was probably related to how to handle problems when readings started to get out of spec, or when an unusual situation was expected.

While I cannot boast of any first-hand generating station experience, I had many opportunities to visit stations in the course of one job, and when the SHTF, action is required almost without stopping to think (although in rare cases thinking is necessary) since things go bad very quickly, and the number of people potentially effected is large.

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#14

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 12:12 AM

CR4 helped me repair my digital camera. It wasn't worth it in the long run but the experience was priceless. The best part was the video on how to do it. And of course, a source for the repair part I needed.

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#16

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 4:03 AM

Often equipment will pass through many hands before reaching the end user.

Goods in.
Quality Engineering, (this was a misnomer in the company I worked at 40 years ago) who build it into a test rack and "file" the manual somewhere.
Deparmental heads who "file" the manual somewhere.
etc.
These days one would hope the manuals would be available online.

Often the manuals are worse than useless and the user interface software of some instruments is V poor.
Where I work we've started doing some Youtube vids to show the set up procedures, vastly more understandable than a poorly written manual that wasn't originated in your first language. (No it's not just the Chinese... Italian instruction manuals are somewhat iffy too.

The one's I write are of course exemplary... until marketing cave in to a load of unecessary software changes at the request of a power crazed minion from the customer's middle management structure. He feels they are necessary because Lyndoor inductries product has the automatic arse wiping feature features so he wants them on the ChrisDel product too.

Del

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#18

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 8:10 AM

I just bought an 8 channel strip chart recorder that has been out of production for over 10 years. I bought it for $150 and it works like new. The original sale price was nearly $8000 but it came with a manual when new.

Fortunately, I am very familiar with the operation of this device because there are no complete manuals on line, being a model older than the internet.

It only has a few membrane buttons on it and from the appearance it was hardly used. It also has a small LCD display and all of the settings are accessed via menus that you must step through to obtain the function you like.

Every other electrical engineer that I worked with were so intimidated by the menu's that I became the primary user. Even when they had the manual, many of them would refuse to use it. Perhaps it needed pictures of naked people to get them to turn past the front page.

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#19

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 8:33 AM

Lot's of points made, but I don't think I saw a real obvious one,,, why do the work when you can get someone else to do it for you?

I understand that this happens a lot.

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#53
In reply to #19

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/27/2015 1:47 PM

Thanks I was going to post that but decided to wait until somebody else did....

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#20

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 9:20 AM

And then there are the just plain stupid manuals that leave you clueless when..."turn knob A, and the red light will go on"...but no information about how to trouble shoot if the light does NOT go on! That usually happens after a long and complex number of steps in setting up some software!

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#26
In reply to #20

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 11:54 AM

The funniest example I had with English not being the translator's primary language was a phrase meaning, "Screw screw A clockwise". I can't tell the translation on CR4, but it should be easy to guess.

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#22

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 9:49 AM

It is strange that people come here for answers that should be in a manual. I know in my job, I can count on the instrument manual to be immediately confiscated by Documentation and filed in the customer manual we send with our systems. Therefore, I've developed the habit of not even looking for it, but immediately hitting Google to get a manual. You'd think others would realize that the manuals are ALWAYS online. Allen Bradley now charges you if you want the printed versions and expects you will instead download them for free.

I wonder if the language barrier is the issue here? You can't question a printed manual if you can't understand the instructions correctly, but a living person on CR4 can explain three times if necessary. If the manual they got was translated into their language by the same people who do translations from German to English, or Chinese to English, then I know why they come to CR4.

Then there are the new form of manuals which, because of the translation issue, are done entirely in pictures and charts. The German instrument manufacturers are becoming fanatical users of this form of manual. They are worse than a bad translation.

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#23

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 10:25 AM

Unfortunately I have noticed the same trend however I attribute it to the following:

1) Severe lack of competent education which in turn has severely limited reading, deduction, reasoning, and comprehension skills of the last three (3) generations.

2) Poor-to-no intern programs wherein the student is properly mentored on the job and required to attain stepped levels of competence in their respective fields.

3) Severe lack of employee self motivation requirements and no accountability levied by employers/companies/society.

4) Poor quality and lack of critical information in vendor/manufacturer Installation & Operation Manuals.

5) Poor-to-no document control on projects and by companies caused by a false management idea that not doing so saves money.

6) A combination of all the above?

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#24

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 10:34 AM

Lyn: You have just negated my life-log adage - 'if all else fails read the instructions!'

Now you tell me the instructions are no good.

it looks as though I need to change the adage to - 'before doing anything - call CR4'

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#25
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Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 11:51 AM

Adapt or perish.

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#27

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 12:50 PM

You are right, many owner manuals disappear in "higher" offices, for voluminous docs often with new golden covers. The equipment is running, at first because new and installed by the builder. Later it will run, due to the experience of the service personal , who never did see a paper.....WZEJDL2A

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#32
In reply to #27

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 3:19 PM

And I guarantee that no one in those "higher" offices understands squat about the contents.

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#39
In reply to #27

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/22/2015 8:41 AM

There has to be one location that can be accessed for "all" manuals. Personally, starting before the internet thing, I always specified that 3 sets of manuals were to be supplied with any piece of equipment. If they weren't I made sure that I had copies made. One(the original) was stored in central area (just in case) and copy given to maintenance department and a copy with the machine for the operators use.

I still use this practice today, even though I can look up most everything on the net the operators and most of the time, maintenance don't have that option readily available. In the long run I find it saves a lot of time.

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#30

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 3:08 PM

I hope the idiots who run car rentals firms read this (which I doubt, and which they probably wouldn't understand anyway).

Ever notice the LACK of a basic owners' manual?

With cars becoming more complicated by the year (I know the basics-steering wheel, gas, brake and shift lever) but there's always some new thingy, or some designer "integrated " a control that you need (A/C in FL, heater in MA) and your traveling on a freeway at 50-60 MPH looking for the damn thing, or some idiot light comes on at speed and you don't know what's happening...

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#33

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 3:52 PM

I have several pieces of equipment here that were manufactured overseas. I find that even thou the person that wrote the manual or translated it think they know English. They do not know idiosyncrasies of the English language to produce a document that is easy to read and understand. I will say some companies are better then others in producing manuals that are understandable. I guess it comes down to what they want to pay those individuals to do the translation. Or how much they care. Some even use it to sell service.

Can't bash them too much. How would you like it if you bought a US American piece of equipment. Had a problem with it. Called their tech service and got some foreign answering service( not US).

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#35
In reply to #33

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 4:58 PM

"Called their tech service and got some foreign answering service( not US)."

Yes, all the time. Just had a bout with Sears over a new stove/oven. Their email system is designed to not allow you to communicate with anyone.

Their phone "customer service" system is worse, if you can understand the foreign tongue spoken.

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#36
In reply to #35

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 5:21 PM

lyn - That is why I read the posts & decide to refrain from any replies. This is going to bother some, but, very educated people have an absence of common sense. I would say about 90% are very literal & over analyzers. Most technical writers need a degree to have the job of writing instructions for people who don't have the education needed to read it. So, they over analyze it or use common sense when reading it & everybody gets confused!

Over the years I have worked on a variety of commercial cooking equipment, that is purchased by one group of people & then put in place for for the operators. The installers usually throw the Install Instructions away - no real info. anyway. The Users Manual if given to the operators may or may not be read, but never seems to be followed.

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#37
In reply to #36

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 5:54 PM

I am totally confused by your entire post.

It is so full of contradictions that I am having trouble understanding just what point you are trying to make.

I know some Jayhawks that I can readily communicate with. Pardon my participle.

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#40
In reply to #37

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/22/2015 9:56 AM

You are pardoned lyn.

1st - I agree with you on the silly posts.

2nd - I have noticed the trend you are talking about.

3rd - the info. is usually hard to understand, foreign or not (original post, #15, & #33).

4th - Operators & manuals ( #'s 18,22, & 27).

Sorry, it was right before going home & I was in a hurry. From now on I will reply to individual posts one at a time or not at all. Your original post intrigued me, thank you for that.

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#41
In reply to #40

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/22/2015 10:15 AM

Thanks for the clarification.

I literally overanalyzed your first post.

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#43
In reply to #41

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/22/2015 11:34 AM

Most technical writers, I would say about 90% are very educated people who have an absence of common sense & are very literal & over analyzers. They need a degree to have the job of writing instructions for people who don't have the education needed to read it. So, when reading the information, either they over analyze it or use too much common sense when reading it.

My technical writing grades sucked, you can't use the K.I.S.S. principles. Going back it confused me too, so, I tried to rewrite it.

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#38

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/21/2015 8:29 PM

I wonder what the "boss" has to say. I don't want any excuses, just do the dame work.

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#44

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/22/2015 11:42 AM

Sometimes things just aren't what they seem.

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#46
In reply to #44

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/22/2015 2:24 PM

Yes! This meets all current USA "Country of Origin" labeling requirements.

And we a re back to: "BUYER BEWARE!"

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#47
In reply to #44

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/22/2015 9:26 PM

The orange plastic portion was probably made in the USA as noted. but the metal casting and who knows what else was made in China, so your comment is probably on the money.

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#45

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/22/2015 11:56 AM

I find myself looking online, even if I have a paper copy of the manual in my desk. Not because I am lazy, which I am, but because of the opportunity review the latest information on the manufacturer's website or on a forum such as this. Instruction manuals do get updated, and even rude answers to stupid questions can be helpful and informative, or at least entertaining.

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#48

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/26/2015 3:26 PM

Seems a petty thing to waste years being bothered by but to each their own. It's more than likely they may live in a country where internet access is severly restricted. Sadly not all people live in freedom and many may have never even heard of google. A google search of censored countries quickly shows much of the world suffers from government censorship. They may be lucky to even get email let alone being able to search the internet. If all else fails you could always just ask the OP of such a post and finally have an answer. Just a thought of course, assuming you really want an answer.

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#49
In reply to #48

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/26/2015 3:41 PM

#36

Why not practice what you preach?

You obviously have no interest in anything other than trolling.

Why not read what you wrote on the bottom of all your responses.

"Do not engage the troll's! They seem harmless witless creatures but they will not stop till they ruin your thread if you offer so much as a table scrap! "

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#50
In reply to #49

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/26/2015 3:58 PM

Gee, just trying to help you like you keep trying to help me on my threads! Many users openly offer their thoughts and advice, comes with the territory. Get used to it! :)

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#51

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/27/2015 11:33 AM

Good morning all. My experience has been manuals seem to be written by people whose first language is not the preferred language. While Google translate is OK, it is not sufficient for technical descriptions. Second complaint is that writer has not tried to follow his instructions. Lastly, reading comprehension is no longer rigorously taught, why bother when a youtube video is worth 10,000 words. And a link to tcmtech or Solareagle 100K

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#52
In reply to #51

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/27/2015 12:07 PM

It depends too, on the country of origin, the level of comprehension of the reader and their level of knowledge of the equipment.

"Second complaint is that writer has not tried to follow his instructions."

Also, many writers have never operated the equipment.

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#57
In reply to #52

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

08/23/2016 11:40 AM

In my RAF days we had to assemble a Zeis rectifying enlarger. The original instructions were in German. The RAF had an officer fluent in German (actually quite a lot back in the postwar 50's) and he translated it for us and rewrote it literally in English. We had no trouble making sense of it, and step-by-step we successfully built the enlarger.

But on reflection we should have read the whole document from end to end before commencing construction. I have no idea if German logic of methodology is different to ours but one of the last things in the step-by-step 'written' instructions was to connect an internal cable.

Unfortunately it required us to almost dismantle much of the enlarger to gain access to the connectors necessary to complete the last step.

Paraphrased in terms of simple logic was to carry out steps 1 to 50...after connecting the cable..... which you did not realise until step 49.

It runs along the line of the 'intelligence' test where you are asked to complete a questionnaire. The instructions are to read every question before writing anything down.

It starts with Q1 - your name. Q2 - address, Q3 - date etc, etc,

Last question Q50 - write only your name and nothing else in answer to every question.

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#54
In reply to #51

Re: Burning Question for Sunday Morning

12/27/2015 9:06 PM

Google translate is NOT OK!

Several years ago a chief wanted to explain certain requirements of a city code to the local Chinese community, and used Google translate to put the English wording into Chinese.

A co-worker who was born and raised in Beijing, and is a certified translator for Mandarin, looked at the "translation" and remarked "No Chinese person that I know will ever be able to understand that."

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