Re: Re[2]: manual

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From:Barry Rittman <>
Date:Wed, 10 Mar 1999 14:20:05 -0800
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As I get older, I realise that there are very few things that are
completely clearcut (except for lasagne - it is either a great dish or a
pitiful one!!)

It seems to me that everyone is getting upset about a topic which could be
dealt with with a little common sense and a realization that legality
apart,perhaps no one is totally correct in this matter. The discussion
reminds me of the one last year regarding antigen retrieval.

I think that the following points should be borne in mind.
A workman (/workwoman/workperson) is worthy of his hire. This applies to
company representatives as well as histotechs. For companies, the cost of
preparing manuals is usually very high but is recovered in many ways. This
may be partly by spreading the cost over the equipment and supplies it
distributes, partly from the free advertising that it gets from the
customer and also from the advertising in providing a "user friendly"
manual. Part of the problem appears to me to be the unnecessary lengths
that many companies go to produce a manual that is "all inclusive". Most
manuals are far from user friendly. Most contain schematics that are often
exclusively for the use of the service representative when the equipment
needs repair. I would question the necessity of therefore providing one of
these "complete" manuals to the customer and of course charging them for it
in the cost of the machine. I realise that in some cases the technical
details may be useful in diagnosing problems over the telephone and
sometimes saving a service call, however I feel that most of the time this
does not apply. 
Perhaps as a routine, companies should supply a brief manual with the
purchase that will permit the customer to diagnose simple problems and
learn how to use the machine.   A complete manual could also be available
at a price.    

If the need to keep the complete manual with the machine is because there
are design changes and the manuals become dated ; then perhaps some of the
pieces of equipment need to be more thoroughly tested before being put onto
the market. It seems to me a pity that MOST companies (not just in our
profession)don't try to get more input from the end user. With MOST pieces
of equipment there are usually some features that we as consumers can see
will have problems and are most likey to break down. e.g. the plastic glove
box door latch on my Bonneyville car which broke after 2 weeks - it was of
course replaced by a more soldid metal latch. This type of problem can be
seen no matter what the cost of the equipment. A household appliance user
will often feel that the machine they have just purchased is sent to them
for beta testing. This often also applies to scientific equipment. 

As far as copyright laws, there are several problems. If the material is
being copied for personal use that is one thing, if for profit that is a
problem. I have the personal philosophy that knowledge should be free but
realize that this does not always happen in the real world. I routinely
copy slides for use in teaching and for their use, companies or authors
receive the credit of recognition and sometimes reach potential customers.
The machines in many laboratories are however, used to provide services
such as sections for diagnosis. The cost of operating such a machine is I
am sure passed along to the consumer. In a large operation the cost of an
extra manual even at $167 is lost in the budget. For a small operation
however, this may be a problem. 

My dealing with most of the vendors is that they will do their best to help
whenever it is possible. However, there may be financial restrictions that
apply to the company as a whole or to individual representatives.

Copy the pages of the manual you need, don't blab about it, don't sell it
and you will be fine.

Sorry, I meant this to be a brief note


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