[na-user] NA Manual

dap14@daimlerchrysler.com dap14@daimlerchrysler.com
Fri, 6 Aug 1999 13:40:44 -0400

N6RT's recent post about keyboard remapping subtly makes the point that the
current NA manual is somewhat long in tooth.  In the past we've made it a point
to release a new manual every year at Dayton, and keep the UPDATExx.DOC files
current with the program releases.  Users may have noticed that there three
UPDATE files are shipped with NA.  Each of these updates a particular level of
manual until the next manual is released - UPDATE00.DOC updates the manual
released with 10.00 in May 1996, UPDATE17.DOC updates the manual released with
10.17 in May 1997, and UPDATE28.DOC updates the manual release with 10.28 in May
1998.  We've done it this way in order to accomodate users who might have a very
early manual from their original NA purchase and have continued to update
electronically.  It might not be the most convenient, but an original 10.00
manual plus the three UPDATE files completely describes the latest NA versions.

However, there has to be a better way.  In today's world of electronic
publishing, we should be able to have the current NA manual on-line in PDF (or
some other) format for registered NA users.  Additionally, one reason the NA
manual was not updated for the 10.38 release at Dayton 1999 is that there are
other factors calling for change.  The NA manual is currently done with Windows
WordPerfect 6.1, while my professional WP usage has now been switched to MS
Word.  While I still have WPWin on my computer, the current manual requires some
wild format gyrations to get its appearance.  I'd like to find a better way, so
perhaps now is the time.

I'm posting this note to the reflector asking the users for your comments on the
manual and what changes they would like to see.  I'd also like your comments
about what form you'd like to see the manual in.  Today's methodology (once a
year manual updates, plus UPDATExx.DOC) is probably the crudest approach, while
"up to date PDF with every release" is perhaps the most complete.  Back in the
earlier days of NA, we saw the lack of an "electronic" manual as one factor
making bootlegging less attractive.  With an electronic manual available only
from the protected download area, some level of protection is afforded although
there would be nothing to prevent a registered user from giving it to his
buddies.  However, my experience with the NA user community has fostered a
feeling of trust, so I would prefer to do what benefits the legitimate user and
leave dealing with bootleggers to a higher power.

Do users want a hardcopy manual at all?  Keep in mind that printing out a 100+
page manual and binding it up into a conveniently usable reference is a chore.
New users are another matter - they generally want a hardcopy manual, at least
initially, but this is primarily an issue for RBS.

So, if you have ideas for to improve the manual format to make it clearer to
understand, or for ways to improve how the manual is created, I'd like to hear
from you.


Dave Pruett, K8CC
DATOM Engineering

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