I swear I'm not a moron, honest!

Look, I’m going to college. I’m a voracious reader, I learned how to read at a young age. I test well. I can whip up an essay in an hour and get an A on it. And honestly, I am a visual learner. At the very least, I can say I’m not an idiot when it comes to general comprehension.

I understand that not everyone reads. Diagrams for instructions can be helpful, I suppose, for these people.

So why the fuck is it that I can’t understand the little fucking pictures?!?!?!

And why is it that so many things have diagrams BUT NOT WORDS ALONG WITH IT? That is the worst thing!

I need to make a copy of a paper, right? So I go to the nearest available machine. It’s a completely different model than the one I’m used to (“used” to using, since I hardly ever use copiers anyway), a lot bigger and has many more doodads and buttons and choices and whatnot. So before I start to use it, I think, “Hey! I’ll look at the nice little step-by-step instructions!”

The first thing I see are these bloody pictures. Okay, FINE. But there’s NO text anywhere. No writing that will say something like, “Lift the lid and place your paper face down along the top left corner” etc. I see these overly-detailed little comics that have absurd colour-coded arrows that apparently have some significance (the colour I mean).

So I see a nice line of about 10 images. All of them look damn near identical with these goddamn arrows pointing to random things on the same picture of the copier. I want to scream, “Jesus Christ, I can’t even understand little pictures!?!?”

Then I swallow my pride and go to the AAC head (the copier is inside the AAC [Academic Achievement Center, for tutoring and whatnot]). I ask her if she could help me, feeling like a complete moron. Then she walks out and stares at the pictures for awhile, and she can’t figure it out either! Eventually we just go to her office, which has a simpler copier that has written instructions if you need them.

Who is drawing these goddamn pictures? I’m assuming it’s people who already know how to use the damn thing perfectly, because the fucking pictures do NOTHING to show you how to use it!

If you’re going to have nice pretty pictures for instructions, make sure to have a goddamn written set along side the goddamn pictures! >:

:: gives zwei some tea and animal cookies ::

I had that happen just yesterday at the county library with a microfilm machine.

Please understand: I know how to run a microfilm machine. I’ve used them for years decades, actually, grumble, grumble darn punk kids and I know how they work.

Fine. Get New York Times roll, sit down. A row of buttons, each with a little diagram up top.

First, I couldn’t turn on the machine. Press all the buttons. Nothing works. Ask at reference desk. Nice lady (probably muttering, “Idiot. Should’ve stayed in retail”) pushed the switch on the side of the machine.

Tried to loop film, only now it’s a self-looping machine. Stick end of roll into slot. There is one sign, “Press blue button.”

Fine, except there’s FIVE BLUE BUTTONS on the machine. Which blue button do they want? Press until found.

Machine comes to like, a la Stephen King short story (“The Machine” I think it was called). Film spools in one side, then out the other end and onto the floor. Film continues to spool, making a lovely pattern on the floor, until I press buttons, find right one (the BLUE BUTTON, ah, now I’m getting somewhere).

Rewind spool. Try again. This time, the uptake reel catches on that it’s supposed to do its fuggin’ job and works.

Now, moving the film back and forth is easy, at least, because they use the same knob I’ve seen on other machines. Unfortunately, that’s all it could do, because I couldn’t figure out what the other buttons are supposed to do. The lens was set on extreme magnification, giving me a quarter of a page. I couldn’t pull back the magnification, couldn’t focus, although I can still manhandle the lens over the paper using brute force.

I found what I was looking for and cleaned up, but I never did figure out what all those figgin’ buttons were for.

I feel your pain, friend. IKEA and those damned cartoon instructions drive me nuts. My wife has to walk me through everything practically everything that requires assembly anymore, since she can read cartoon and I can’t.

Welcome to the real world.

Where I work we have dozens of Certified Accountants, engineers and Lawyers. Everybody but the engineers insists on the capitalization. They’re Professionals, don’t you know.

The only people smart enough to work the copiers and fax machines, and to actually pick up the freakin’ phone to call for help, plane tickets, hotel reservations, etc. are the Secretaties.

Capital “S” for a reason. These people are badly underappreciated and underpaid.

I’m one of the small “e” engineers.

There was an episode of “The New Twilight Zone” titled “But Can She Type” where a secretary from our world (played by Pan Dawber of “Mork & Mindy”) found herself in an alternate reality where Secretaries are treated like CEOs are in this world: high salaries, eagerly sought after, and properly acknowledged as the true masters of the universe.
IANAS, but I still loved it.

[hijack] During the 11 years I have worked for a very large company (household name) I have had 6 bosses.
The best far was VP’s admin. (filling in during reorg) most common sense, easiest to get along with, by far and away the most brains.
God, I wish she was still my boss.

It was called “The Mangler”. I think it was in the book “Night Shift”, a collection of short stories, probably some of SK’s best work ever. And that one was definitely creepy.
And my $.02 on this, yeah, I got that routine with our new copier here at work - fancy, auto-feed, sort collate change your underwear you name it. Stick a pile of stuff onto the feed, hit the “go” button (and I guess I’m thankful that wasn’t so difficult), and a copy spits out the other end – all blank pages… WTF?

Then I notice, on the paper feed tray there’s a little white rectangle with a corner chopped off… no, wait, it’s a symbol of a folded corner, and when I look closer I notice that said corner has some lines on it - oh, now I get it, “printed side down”. SO WHY THE BLISTERING FUCK WAS THAT SO INHUMANLY IMPOSSIBLE TO PUT INTO WRITING!!!

The machine is Japanese-made. Wonderful machine, now that I have it figured out. But last I checked, they, like virtually every other industrialized nation in the world, had mastered Basic English for their products. More or less (all your user instructions are belong to us) - so Why TF can’t they put a few GDMF’g words on their products now?!! GRR.


It’s not just copiers either. When I moved into my new house last year, I bought a new stove. Rather then the very easy to figure out “left front” “right front”, the knobs now have little pictures by them. I still, 1 1/2 years later, get it wrong sometimes. Every time I turn on the damn stove, I wave my hand over the burners to make sure I got the right one.

Then there’s VCR programming. I’ve never had a problem with it. So a couple of years back, I bought a new VCR. I tried to program it to record a show, but you HAD to put in the VCR + code (I think that’s what it’s called). I didn’t have a TV guide so I didn’t know the code. It pissed me off that in trying to make it possible for any idiot to record a show, they made it impossible to do it manually.

<former secretary hijack> I once worked for a (insert big name here) company with a lot of engineers. Wonderful, friendly, nice people–except not a damn one of 'em could put paper in the copy machine, or yank the thing open and clear it if it jammed. Picture yer typical geek, short-sleeved white shirt, looking bemusedly at out-of-paper copy machine, glancing up and down the room, and trotting over to a different copy machine.

But the people who really chap my hide are the ones who take the last of the coffee and don’t make a new pot. Grrrrrrr… </former secretary hijack>

I don’t mind all cartoony symbols that much. What I hate is filling out forms. Ask me to write an essay or whatever, and I can do it fine, but most forms (especially the really bureaucratic types) perplex me with the questions they ask.

Reminds me of the time (many years ago) when I was first learning to use Excel spreadsheets. These little pictures may seem obvious to the people who think them up, but…

… I look at this tiny black-on-grey graphic, and think “What is it? It’s got, um, vertical rectangular blocks of varying heights… and in front of them is a narrow rectangle at an angle… little dots around the top end… got it! It’s an urban decay thing, a background of tower blocks with a factory chimney toppling over in the foreground! So, it must tie into… Excel’s ‘Urban Redevelopment’ menu???”

It was the Chart Wizard, of course: the “toppling factory chimney” was a magic wand, summoning a bar chart into existence. But it’s a common flaw of these little icons; they’re only obvious if you already know what they mean…

Heh, I’m laughing at the engineers comment, mainly because my brother is one. :wink:

Honestly though, I can use copiers, clear them if they are jammed, add more paper, OOOH, and I make a new pot of coffee! :smiley: The problem is when they only have cartoons for copiers that I’ve never used before. If there are written instructions, it’ll take me all of five seconds to get the thing running properly.

If that copier had instructions beneath each picture saying: “Open the lid and place your paper face down along the top left corner, and close the lid. Select the paper type you want using <blah buttons> and use the arrows to select the number of copies you want, then press the large red button to begin printing”, I wouldn’t have had any problem.

I’m assuming that there’s just some wordless cartoon reading talent that some people have and some people don’t.

Ah! Another example. I was at the local arcade awhile back, and they had the Star Wars Ep. 1 Pod Racer game, where you sit down in front of a big screen and have hand levers to push and pull. I sit down and look for instructions and again there’s only the pictures. I see:

Image of two levers uncoloured.
Image of one lever coloured black, the other uncoloured.
Image of the other lever coloured black, and the first one uncoloured.
Image of both of them coloured black, and only this one had arrows pointing upward.

Basically I said screw it, I’ll just wing it. Turns out that it was showing that you push the levers forward to accelerate, and back to brake. And you know what? The pictures were perfectly clear AFTER I had played the game and figured out the controls. I wasn’t the only one, either. I actually asked people standing around, “Do you know what these are saying?”, and no one was able to figure it out, until they actually played the fucking game.

Ya know Already I sympathize with the form complaints. I am a financial advisor and for the first couple of years I thought people were paying the fee for my sterling advice. I’ve come to realize they just want someone else to fill out the forms for them and tell them where to sign. Humbling.

Its a secret conspiracy by the TV advertising department to rid the world of textually based people. Social darwanism working at its finest :slight_smile:

If you want hell, you should see the instruction manuals that come with scientific equipment.

We bought a luminomiter (to read bio-luminescent samples)…

The machine has 3 buttons… none of them are labled.

And a 20 page instruction manual.

Here’s how you operate it.

Plug it in (it’ll go to default mode, no printer or computer output).

Open the little arm/drawer

Place your tube w/ glowing reagents in the holder.

Close drawer.

wait 10 sec

write down the number that appears on the screen.

I still haven’t figured out what the buttons are for, I think I can use them to change where the data goes… but there are no instructions to install it to a computer or a printer other than, “plug cable to unit then to device”

there’s 5000$ well spent for a machine half the size of a lunch box

PC Load Letter

I know where you’re coming from; I used to work in the copy room here. After being promoted out of the copy room, I’m on the other side of the coin. The agency I work for is production-oriented, each employee has a quota to meet each day and receives a monetary reward at the end of the year for producing more than is required. Jam-clearing, paper adding, and just waiting for the copier to warm up take away from the time that is better spent toward earning that monetary award.