October 6th, 2004

down and right

Pointless and dull

Remember when I said that one way to disrespect my work was pointless busywork during idle times?

Well, when I arrived at work today we had been assigned, by our helpful training department, a series of six exercises. These were to cover steps to be taken to prepare the Word documents we get from clients so that they go through our conversion programs cleanly.

Now, don't get me wrong, there was some good information in there. Heck, I even learned one thing.

The exercises themselves, however, were constructed in an annoying fashion. Here's a sample of the instructions:
Automatic Lists (Convert Numbering to Text)
Automatic lists (e.g., 1, 2, 3,... and a, b, c...) are easy to create in Microsoft Word. Our clients will use this feature frequently when creating their documents. When processing automatic lists through Jumpstart, it's a best practice to first convert the automatic numbering to actual text. This will prevent the numbering from inadvertently changing its content while macros are running.
  1. You will notice an example of an automatic list in the first page of the file. On screen, it appears to be regular text until you actually try to click on the numbering to change it. You're not able to edit the actual numbering.
  2. Notice also that selecting the paragraphs does not select the numbering.
  3. To see an example of how automatic lists work, place your cursor after the ending period in paragraph a) and press Enter. Notice how the b) paragraph automatically appears and the numbering in the following paragraphs are automatically readjusted.
  4. Undo (Ctrl+Z) the paragraph insertion to return the text back to the original.
  5. To convert automatic lists to regular text, from the Merrill Tools menu, click Conversion -> Convert Numbering to Text. The macro will convert all automatic lists within the entire file and will finish within a few seconds, sometimes almost instantaneously. There is no confirmation message stating it is complete. [And how's that for good user interface design?]
  6. Now notice that you can select the actual numbers in the list and selecting the paragraphs will also select the numbering. Later in the file you will also notice that all other automatic lists have been converted to regular text.
This was accompanied by little screen shots showing the various stages as you followed these steps.

Probably good instructional design. Boring as all hell and condescending to boot. It reads as if someone is talking to a six-year-old. If I wasn't so peeved, I'd go count how many times the instructions included the information that Ctrl-Z will Undo what I just did or Ctrl-C will copy something. How would I change this?
Automatic Lists (Convert Numbering to Text)
Automatic lists are too easy to create in Microsoft Word. Our clients will use this feature frequently when creating their documents. When processing automatic lists through Jumpstart, the numbering disappears, requiring that it be added by hand later. To save on work and reduce errors, run the "Convert Numbering to Text" macro from the "Merrill Tools" menu on all files before beginning Jumpstart.
Simple, to the point, not condescending.

And this is not to mention that there exists a perfectly serviceable document of step-by-step processes to follow when doing this task. It is organized as a list on the first page with following pages giving one detailed information if they need it. So, if you don't know what to do you get, first, the steps you'll be taking and then the detail of each step. Later, when you've learned but not mastered, you'll have the steps readily available so you can do the ones you know and skip back for detail where you need more information.

The duplication and the subtle indication that whomever wrote this thinks we're a bunch of cretins drives me up a wall.
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    frustrated frustrated