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Hall Of Technical Documentation Weirdness 437

Posted by timothy
from the tab-a-slot-65901 dept.
An anonymous reader submits: "Generally speaking, with the exception of Tina on Dilbert, technical writers aren't very funny. This is something of a rare and unintentional exception. This guy has assembled a bunch of examples of bizarre technical illustration. There's only about 15 at the moment, but he's collecting further examples."
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Hall Of Technical Documentation Weirdness

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  • Others (Score:5, Funny)

    by L-s-L69 (700599) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @08:35AM (#6803742)
    To go with... McDonalds coffee: "May be hot." Ready meals: "Remove plastic before cooking" Nitol (sleep tablets) "May cause drowsyness" Laxitives "exessive consumption may produce laxitive effect." The list is endless.
    • Re:Others (Score:5, Funny)

      by 91degrees (207121) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @08:47AM (#6803822) Journal
      Peanuts - "May contain peanuts". I really like the lack of certainty with this one.
    • Re:Others (Score:2, Funny)

      by JanneM (7445)
      Actually, Ie done that with a pizza. It came in a sort of plastic tray with a tear-off plastic cover. The instructions was to "remove the cover and put the pizza in the oven". I was tired, unfocused (and had had quite a few beers), so I removed the plastic cover, and put the pizza in the oven - still in the plastic tray.

      It takes quite a bit of work to get rid of melted, burnt, pizza-flavoured plastic from an oven.

    • Re:Others (Score:5, Funny)

      by Yxes (7776) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @08:55AM (#6803876) Homepage Journal
      it's in our speech everday though.

      "I found it in the last place that I looked"
      - why would you keep looking?

      "needless to say"
      - then why say it?

      "no offense but..."
      - you know you're about to be offended

      "new and improved"
      - if it's new? how can you improve it?

      "save money by purchasing..."
      - really?

      on a tv ad for bioflex
      "to loose the weight you need to add muscle..."
      - really?

      this list too is endless...
      • Re:Others (Score:5, Interesting)

        by sketerpot (454020) <sketerpotNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @10:07AM (#6804451)
        For other things like this (which you are told to avoid), check out the classic Strunk and White [bartleby.com]. (Note: this link goes to the first edition, which was just "Strunk", but that's the best we can do with these ridiculous copyright terms....)
        • by rmckeethen (130580) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @02:25PM (#6806885)

          I picked up this book yesterday for a writing class at SFSU and I agree, it's a gem. My favorite quote (so far):

          Flammable - An oddity, chiefly useful in saving lives. The common word meaning "combustible" is inflammable. But some people are thrown off by the in- and think inflammable means "not combustible." For this reason, trucks carrying gasoline or explosives are now marked FLAMMABLE. Unless you are operating such a truck and hence are concerned with the safety of children and illiterates, use inflammable.

          Priceless!

    • Re:Others (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      My favorite was the warning on children's cough syrup to "not operate heavy equipment or drive". They may have removed the warning by now; my youngest child is 22 now.
    • Re:Others (Score:5, Funny)

      by MikeCT (686254) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @08:59AM (#6803894)
      From an IBM manual: "The difference between a database management system and other systems is that a database management system helps manage the database for you ...."

      An here's a comment taken from a COBOL program I once had to maintain. It actually does make sense if you manage to guess the right punctuation:
      "If not amending after total blank lines are shuffled up after total blanked lines are left blank in table to avoid shuffling."
    • Re:Others (Score:2, Interesting)

      by zx75 (304335)
      Hey, you know what? I have a cousin who has screwed up a pizza-in-a-box twice now, once because he didn't take off the plastic, and the second time because he didn't take the cardboard out from under it...

      Maybe some people need those warnings. :)
    • Re:Others (Score:5, Funny)

      by soulsteal (104635) <soulstealNO@SPAM3l337.org> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @11:15AM (#6805001) Homepage
      I like my coffee like i like my women. Dark, full bodied and slightly bitter.

      I like my coffee like I like my women: tied up in a burlap bag and dragged through the Andes.
    • Re:Others (Score:3, Funny)

      by DoctorFrog (556179)
      My favorite warning label : "Remove infant before folding and stowing stroller." I kid you not...
    • Re:Others (Score:5, Funny)

      by JonnyElvis42 (609632) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @02:32PM (#6806970)
      And what about my stick deoderant: "Not for use in the eyes."

      Now what the heck am I supposed to do when I've got a bad case of stinky-eye?
  • Oh Well. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @08:37AM (#6803756)
    I was oh so hoping there'd be something amusing waiting for me when I clicked through to this guys site. This guys sense of humor includes laughing at perfectly normal operation instructions because they contain "lots of arrows"? ...yawn... Did anyone really read this site before posting this lame-ass story?
  • by wheany (460585) <wheany+sd@iki.fi> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @08:38AM (#6803757) Homepage Journal
    Might contain traces of funny.
  • i know (Score:4, Funny)

    by mothrathegreat (542532) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @08:38AM (#6803759)
    since noone seems to find it funny I guess we ought to slashdot it

  • by itsme1234 (199680) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @08:38AM (#6803761)
    There are 12 exhibits, they're even numbered if you can't count to 12 ...

    ---
    "There's only about 15 at the moment, but he's collecting further examples."
    ---
  • Meh. (Score:3, Funny)

    by thoolie (442789) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @08:39AM (#6803764) Homepage
    Meh...not the best, but if you are looking for a laugh this morning, check out maddox.xmission.com! (If you really want to laugh, look for the article "Why I am better than your kids".) :-)
  • Not too weird... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jdreed1024 (443938) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @08:40AM (#6803773)
    Some of these are simply translated as "The person who wrote this doesn't understand this device".

    For example, in number "11", it's pretty clear it's not a fridge, but an A/V rack. (that being why it's included with a DVD player). And it's saying "Don't wheel the A/V rack towards you over uneven surfaces, or you'll end up underneath it writhing in pain".

    Exhibit 9 is not that stupid - it's pretty clear it's not a cartoon speaking bubble, but rather intimating that somewhere on your computer is a USB port.

    Exihibit 5: "I like it because it says 'insert trousers'" Huh? It's weird because it's correct English? Or it's weird because it's telling you what to do? Or it's weird because this guy doesn't know what "trousers" means? It's a pants press - how is it weird for it to tell you to insert your pants into the rack?

    Move along folks, nothing to see here.

    • For example, in number "11", it's pretty clear it's not a fridge, but an A/V rack

      Correct. Also, that particular symbol is rather standard. a UL engineer gave me the same symbol to use in my User's manual for a large LCD display.
    • And it's saying "Don't wheel the A/V rack towards you over uneven surfaces, or you'll end up underneath it writhing in pain".

      Which is still useless information when there are lots of ways to break your skull, anyway. I feel many of these warning sign etc. are just disclaimers put in place so you don't sue the manufacturers for being stupid. Somewhat ridiculous, but good for a laugh sometimes.

      They should just stick to showing how you don't break the device you have just bought. Granted, advice on not tryin

    • by TwistedGreen (80055)
      I agree, there are far better examples of absurd technical illustration. Most of these are just... not funny at all.

      [Stops himself from commenting on Slashdot's quality lately...]
  • by ThosLives (686517) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @08:40AM (#6803774) Journal
    A picture of my favorite:

    On a Caterpillar trench digger, there was this funny picture of a NO sign around a chainsaw looking thing and a caption that said, "Engage crowd control before operating".

    because-trench-diggers-control-crowds

  • by bobba22 (566693) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @08:40AM (#6803777) Journal
    I don't know how many other people out there have experienced Japanese toilets, but let me tell you, you don't need an instruction manual, you need someone to come and show you how to use those things. You don't wanna be pressing the wrong button at the wrong time, I can assure you from personal experience, makes my eyes water just thinking about it.
    • by DrSkwid (118965) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:03AM (#6803922) Homepage Journal
      If it made your eyes water you *were* doing somthing wrong.

      I prefered it when it watered other parts of my anatomy.

      And the Japanese are totally on the ball with this one, having warm water sprayed on my ass was the highlight of my overnight stay.

      • having warm water sprayed on my ass was the highlight of my overnight stay.

        You must have not met a girl who does the thing with the string of beads.
    • What's so complicated about a 18" trench with a hole at one end and a half-bowl at the other?

      Oh, you meant the other Japanese toilets. The ones in a bathroom so small that you can't figure out how to close the door while you are inside the bathroom.

      I love Tokyo so much. Truck-stop ramen p0wn3z. Truck-stop bathrooms 5ux0r5.
      • Some more 'engrish' madness from a translated motherboard manual:

        "Use the BIOS reset jumper JP12 to restore original manufacturer setting in BIOS. This jumper can save your life!"

    • Re:japanese toilets (Score:2, Informative)

      by Neva (630016)
      Just in case you want to be prepared:
      The instruction manual to japanese toilets [hellonavi.com]
    • by glenstar (569572) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @10:50AM (#6804781)
      I remember a few years back when one of my favorite bars in Tokyo (yeah, it's in Roppongi but not a shot bar and it's hidden away) got a new toilet. I was there to meet a client and things were going very well until I needed to piss. So, I go into the bathroom, take my leak and go to flush. No flusher. While I had used the Captain-Kirk-chair-like-toilets before, this one was different... must be a new model, I thought. So, I began to push buttons, waiting for a flushing sound. Nothing. Curious. I lifted the toilet lid and KABAAAM! Water shoots out all over the place, absolutely drenching me from the knees down. So I am standing there, not knowing how to react or what to do. I am soaking wet and smell faintly of urine. So I crack the bathroom door hoping to see a staff member I knew to see what they thought of the problem. Luckily for me, Miki comes by, sees me peeking out of the bathroom door, sees my wet state and begins to giggle uncontrollably. Those who have spent time in Japan know the giggle I am talking about... the high-pitched, semi-constrained giggle that is accompanied by attempt to stifle it with a hand to the mouth and only possible from Japanese females.

      Anyway, when she is done giggling I explain my predicament. Her eyes get wide. "Guren-san, " she asks, " but why were you using the bidet?". I refused to answer, mostly because I had no answer, and sloshed over to the table where my client was waiting. Laughing. Hysterically. Also being a gaijin he had experienced something similar. All's well that ends well, I guess: We ended up working together and I never pressed that damn button again.

  • by BadSeqtor (605435) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @08:42AM (#6803790)
    ...but now I'm not that sure [hellonavi.com] any more...
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @08:42AM (#6803793)
    ... because the pieces he exhibits aren't funny or weird, they are just pathetic examples of badly written documentation, and those have existed since electronic devices have grown more complex than kitchen appliances, and their docs started to be written in japanglish.

    And quite frankly, the "kind of dirty" ones wouldn't even be half-dirty for women in a covent.

    The only interest of those technical docs is (1) to learn how to not write them like that, and (2) to witness the birth of early mangas.
  • PH33R T3H BOX-S/\/4|<3

    (fear the box-snake for leet speak impaired)

    Instead of 'If you drop this box on a dog, don't trip over its tail'.

    Quote:
    Exhibit 10 - From instructions for swapping out the hard drive on an Apple
    G4 Powerbook. I just included it because I thought it was kind of dirty.
    Isn't having the top of display in your lap illegal in 48 states and 6 provinces?

    I always thought it was "Illegal in 45, practiced in 3, and not understood in 2"...

    heh.
    • Isn't having the top of display in your lap illegal in 48 states and 6 provinces?


      This guy is complaining about badly written instructions?

      WTF does that phrase mean then? Top of display in your lap?

      How would I even go about doing that, never mind finding a state where it's illegal.
  • by edwilli (197728) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @08:44AM (#6803802) Homepage
    I guess I expected something more like.

    this [roxormedia.com]

    And

    this [roxormedia.com]
  • by Organized Konfusion (700770) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @08:45AM (#6803812) Journal
    Mirror [spaceports.com] be gentle to my host plz ;-)
  • Seen on a packet of "Salted Peanuts" in a pub in the UK "May contain traces of nuts" You'd kinda hope so wouldn't you
  • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @08:47AM (#6803824) Journal
    Visit engrish.com [engrish.com]! Hours of fun...
  • the manual for MS Xenix OS was funnier :)
  • by the_pooh_experience (596177) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @08:51AM (#6803844)
    So Most /. won't get this because it requires loading a highrez image, but on the Dragonball Z toy that hangs from the ceiling and 'flys' in circles on a string, it is poorly translated from presumably fomr east-asian country... The warnings read:
    1. With appertain rotor of screw setting pre ceiling on the under standing that screw no wield. May wield two-faced, pressboard securing, wield pre to begin with wiping ceiling of bilge dasto.
    2. Thread of length need half as many again as tad.
    3. Open toy of batteries shuck. Verification batteries.+,- whereafter stow down,to a certainty need locknat lest take place accident.
    4. Hook through toys apside of hole.
    5. Needs switches shoving NO,for pre arrows specifing of orention shiving.Packing it up time,withbold toy pate need switches shoving OFF.
    • Prythee no sport with stingy of play asperity game. Winding finger have got bloodstream not wallk. Throagh of peril. (bold my addition)
    • Tad disport of time grown man tatelage.
    • Till thge cowcomes home. Wield toys damage, burn-in prytheee wind to a close wield.
    • Give attention to open/close toys, therefore take place peril.for instance slipup batteries wield result in the emission of heat rupture liquid.vent itself prythee pay attention.
    • Play at sith to a certainty bolt up power supply fetch out batteries.
    • Batteries no electification dissolution,plunge ioto aquaor fire.
    • Not trust for tad batteries lest in advertent eat off. In the event of accident without loss of time plythee pillroller tuke order with.
    I am not the best typist, but most of the weird spellings above are in the actual warnings. The original may be found here [darrenbarefoot.com]. I wonder if they will ever take the word "prythee" out of their translation dictionary.
    • by NoData (9132) <.moc.oohay. .ta. ._ataDoN_.> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @10:15AM (#6804516)
      Prythee no sport with stingy of play asperity game. Winding finger have got bloodstream not wallk. Throagh of peril.

      Dude, that's not Engrish...That's Chaucer.
    • Ugh, that reminds me. Some 15 years ago I was a poor American student living in Germany, doing odd free-lance technical translation jobs. Bad enough that I didn't understand most of the stuff I was translating anyway. But one time, I got instructions in English for some kind of chemical laboratory equipment, which had apparently been translated from Japanese already, and it read just like this, I kid you not. It could have passed as haiku. Now they wanted me to translate it into German (the opposite of what
  • Huh (Score:5, Informative)

    by sg3000 (87992) * <sg_public@nOSpaM.mac.com> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @08:52AM (#6803848)
    I know that this page should have been funny, but for some reason, I'm not laughing. And I'm even familiar with the works of Pablo Neruda.

    I kind of expected something like "Engrish" [engrish.com] or the often funny Airtoons [airtoons.com] (but it's probably only funny for those of us that fly a lot). Or even, the hasn't-been-updated-since-the-millennium Kibo [kibo.com] and his amusing criticisms of font use or Gerald Holmes [freeyellow.com], which has outlived the silly .com web awards that are featured on his site. Hooray for Gerald!
  • by Zog The Undeniable (632031) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:02AM (#6803915)
    When the zippotricks website was taken off the Net this week, they posted the amusing disclaimer, "A lighted lighter is hot and can start a fire or burn people."
  • Microfortnights (Score:5, Informative)

    by Christian Engstrom (633834) <christian,engstrom&piratpartiet,se> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:04AM (#6803926) Homepage
    The documentation for the VAX/VMS operating system (this was in the eighties, before they started renaiming it every other year) claimed that one of the system parameters in SYSGEN should be specified in "microfortnights", but then proceeded to say that for added convenience, microfortnights were approximated by "seconds". (If you can't be bothered to bring out your calculator, a proper microfortnight would be 1.2096 seconds.)

    At least I thought this was rather funny, but perhaps I am just very childish.

    • by stevel (64802) * on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @11:43AM (#6805264) Homepage
      The creator of that little gem was Dick Hustvedt, a brilliant engineer with a wicked sense of humor. He was one of the inventors of VAXclusters, as well as of the SD730 Solar Horologue Option - see end of this post.

      When in the VMS SYSGEN utility, and you asked for a list of the parameters, the list included the units. The TIMEPROMPTWAIT parameter was unusual in that values in one range did one thing, while values in another range did something else. Dick wanted to encourage users to go read the manual for the full explanation, so he had the units listed as microfortnights, hoping that puzzled readers would go search out the details.

      Sadly, Dick suffered severe brain injury in a car accident many years ago, and was unable to return to work. We named a conference room in his honor at the Nashua, NH facility where VMS engineering lives, and if you visit it, you can see the prototype SD730, which was introduced as an April Fools joke one year. Here's the text from the "Product Information Sheet" for the SD730.

      VAX-11/730

      SD730 Fixed Head Solar Horologue

      Overview

      The SD730 is an option for the VAX-11/730(TM) that provides an inexpensive solution to the problem of setting system time correctly following a power failure. An astronomical reference is used to assure accuracy. Reliability is assured by the simple, elegant design which employs well-proven technology.

      Description

      The SD730 is a gnomonic high noon detector that provides a simple, but elegant solution to the problem of setting system time correctly following a power failure. This option is particularly valuable for processors lacking battery backup for their time-of-year (TOY) clock.

      Highlights

      - Gnomonic interference high noon detector
      - High accuracy assured by low-drift astronomical reference
      - Connects to existing DR-11C port on VAX-11/730
      - Proprietary high-moon rejection design
      - Offline mode for standalone time measurement
      - User installable and maintainable
      - Reliability assured by minimal component count and proven technology
      - Heavy duty construction resists solar wind
      - Anti-corrosion coating prevents gnomonic plague

      Description

      The SD730 provides a single bit of data via the DR-11C port of the VAX-11/730 that encodes all of its sensory information. Decoding is accomplished by measuring the on/off intervals of this sensor channel. Derivation of the time and date is accomplished by the SD730 Shadow Processing Support Software.

      Accurate high-noon sensing is obtained by measuring the solar transit time and computing the midpoint. This algorithm also corrects for variations in gnomon width, latitude and season. In the event that a cloudless night permits a high full moon to be seen, it will be differentiated from an authentic high noon by comparing observed transit time against a reference solar transit time.

      Within 24 hours following power restoration, the SD730 driver software will restore the correct system time.

      Power outages in excess of 24 hours can be accomodated once a reference year has been accumulated. Day length, solar transit time and their rates of change are used to recognize the day within the year.

      Installation

      The SD730 is user installable and comes complete with an installation kit consisting of a lensatic compass. All software is self-installing and self-calibrating. The only requirement is that system time be set correctly and that at least one clear day be allowed for self calibration.

      The SD730 will not operate reliably when installed at latitudes greater than 60 degrees.

      Maintenance

      While the SD730 is simple and reliable, some environments may necessitate periodic cleaning of the gnomon and photo-detector. Although the gnomon shields the photo-detector from debris, this may not be sufficient for particularly hazardous locations subject to overflights by large flocks of migratory birds. To assist in problem detection, error log entries will b
  • Anyone who laughs at "insert trousers" needs to readjust their sense of humour.

    Now, in a club in Lagos Nigeria (the bar is called Towers, a nice place on Victoria Island), there is a sign above the urinals, which says:

    "Employees must wash genitals before returning to work"

    I just wish I'd had my camera with me, but you will have to take my word for it.
  • by w.p.richardson (218394) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:14AM (#6803999) Homepage
    MEMO: If a mouse fails to operate or should it perform erratically, it may need a ball replacement. Mouse balls are now available as FRU (Field Replacement Units). Because of the delicate nature of this procedure,replacement of mouse balls should only be attempted by properly trained personnel. Before proceeding, determine the type of mouse balls by examining the underside of the mouse. Domestic balls will be larger and harder than foreign balls. Ball removal procedures differ depending upon the manufacturer of the mouse. Foreign balls can be replaced using the pop-off method. Domestic balls are replaced by using the twist-off method. Mouse balls are not usually static sensitive. However, excessive handling can result in sudden discharge. Upon completion of ball replacement,the mouse may be used immediately. It is recommended that each person have a pair of spare balls for maintaining optimum customer satisfaction. Any customer missing his balls should contact the local personnel in charge of removing and replacing these necessary items. Please keep in mind that a customer without properly working balls is an unhappy customer.
  • by batkins (602341)
    Some friends and I came up with this [batkins.com]. It's based on the signs that used to be available at ready.gov.
  • by Dr. Manhattan (29720) <sorceror171@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:29AM (#6804110) Homepage
    And nearly germane. The error messages for the Apple MPW C compiler [macfreek.nl].

    For example:

    • a typedef name was a complete surprise to me at this point in your program
    • Can't cast a void type to type void (because the ANSI spec. says so, that's why)
    • can't go mucking with a 'void *'
    Plenty more goodies! Somebody had some fun writing those error messages...
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:34AM (#6804153)
    Years ago while helping my high school with some card-catalog software, I was flipping through the manual and saw:

    THIS PAGE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK

    My first thought was "god, what a bunch of anal-retentive...." So I continued reading, and almost didn't notice that the next blank(or not blank) page was:

    THIS PAGE ALSO INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK

    I smirked a little, and read on. It kept getting better though:

    YES, THIS PAGE -ALSO- INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK

    THIS PAGE SHOULD NOT BE LEFT BLANK. OOPS, JUST KIDDING.

    etc. etc...they obviously had some fun with that one, realizing just how stupid those messages are and poking fun at it.

    It's almost as good as the Irix workstation which was donated to the HS...it would get increasingly cross if it found someone else was using its IP, and the logs would look something like this:

    Computer with MAC Address 34:23:23... is using my IP address
    Computer with MAC Address 34:23:23... is using my IP address
    Computer with MAC Address 34:23:23... is still using my IP address
    Computer with MAC Address 34:23:23... is STILL using my IP address
    Computer with MAC Address 34:23:23... IS STILL USING MY IP ADDRESS GOD DAMMIT!

    (I don't remember the exact wording, but yes, it would finally start cursing mildly).

  • I wish I still had the instruction manual that came with my girlfriend's old Dell mid tower (Pentium MMX model that came out in about 1997).

    It had a screwless door that you could remove to add RAM and expansion cards. The instruction manual illustrated how to remove the door: one hand on each side to press the catches down, and one hand to push the door off. That's right, three hands to open your computer. And the illustration actually showed three hands!

    I actually pinned the picture on my dorm bullet
  • The TeXbook (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TeXMaster (593524)
    When I read the first line of this post I instantly thought of the TeXbook. Knuth points out that most manuals are dull and boring, and goes on saying that this manual (the TeXbook, and similarly for the METAFONTbook) is different in that it contains jokes here and there. And in fact this is true, even though the jokes are very "technical". But is the really good technical fun, not the one that comes from misprints originated by typos or ignorance. After all, how many nongeeks would laugh for the average w
  • One time (Score:5, Funny)

    by RightInTheNeck (667426) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:40AM (#6804219)
    One time I helped put together a childrens jungle gym sorta deal. It came in a box about the size of a small Australian territory in about 367,894 seperate pieces. Being the men that we are and with the youngins watching in great awe we tossed the directions aside and dove in. After we finished we realized it looked like a scene from that movie "Labyrinth" and something was very very wrong. I picked up the directions finally and opened up to the first page and at the very top in really small print it said "Welcome back". Now I dont know if it was meant for another reason or it was the author being a smartass but it was damn funny at the time you had to be there I guess.
  • "Generally speaking, with the exception of Tina on Dilbert, technical writers aren't very funny. This is something of a rare and unintentional exception."

    Nope, sorry. This guy is about as funny as wet cardboard. And according to the submitter, he's right up the same alley as most other technical writers.

    But I don't blame the writers for being unfunny. Their job isn't to humor us on how this toaster can kill you when soaked in water while plugged in - it's to be serious and prevent injury and death in m

    • > Their job isn't to humor us on how this toaster can kill you when soaked in water while plugged in - it's to be serious and prevent injury and death in many cases.

      If The Boomer Bible taught me anything, it's that a funny cautionary message can often be more memorable than a "serious" one.
  • by Feng (63571) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:42AM (#6804236)
    On one of the carriers they use to ferry space shuttles around, there's a blindingly obvious sign written on one of the struts which reads "Place Orbiter Here... Black Side Down" [balettie.com]

    :)

  • HP used to have some great technical writers, back when they were primarily a test and measurement company. Look at some of the manuals for their early lines of scientific calculators.

    Today, thanks to "modern" management and cost-cutting masquerading as environmentalism, most product documentation has been reduced to a few poorly written help and PDF files. When I spend $500 on a software package, I expect more than a pamphlet, CD and license code.

  • Maybe i'm just lucky, but my girlfriend is a technical writer at Cray, and she's always cracking some kind of joke.. I don't know if it makes it into her manuals or not.
  • I must protest. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by blang (450736) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @10:05AM (#6804432)
    technical writers aren't very funny

    I am not a technical writer, but in my experience, the technical writers are consistently the funniest and most diverse group in the company, and they often have some artistic hobby, and some are writing a novel on their spare time. Novelists are technical writers while they wait for publication. Stand up comedians tend to work in call centers.
  • by Silverhammer (13644) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @10:09AM (#6804469)

    What d'ya mean technical writers aren't funny? We have great senses of humor. How else could we tolerate working with engineers?

  • by hellfire (86129) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `vdalived'> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @10:31AM (#6804638) Homepage
    Check out the back page of a Consumer Reports magazine. They have great examples of silly ads, bad technical documentation, and veiled attempts at what can only be explained as attempts to rip people off. They are far more entertaining and funny than this list, which is not very funny or entertaining.

    I'd have a web link but Consumer Reports website is a subscription based site you have to pay to get into.
  • by joeytsai (49613) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @11:08AM (#6804943) Homepage
    Olin Shivers was one of my professors at Georgia Tech (and a great one at that), and he's also the author of the scheme shell. I always smile when I read the acknowledgements [scsh.net] page.

  • by serutan (259622) <snoopdoug AT geekazon DOT com> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @12:26PM (#6805753) Homepage
    One time I asked for one of those hooks that snap onto the top of a cubicle wall, so I would have a place to hang my jacket. What they got me instead was a really nice padded coat hanger, like for a suit jacket, with a small clip-on hook to hang the coat-hanger on. It came in a special triangular box labelled "Garment Management System". So I cut the name off the box and stuck it on the wall next to the hanger. Just so people wouldn't mistake my Garment Management System for a mere coat hanger.
  • by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig DOT hogger AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @12:35PM (#6805840) Journal
    From Attrition.org [attrition.org].

    This product is meant for educational purposes only. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. Void where prohibited. Some assembly required. List each check separately by bank number. Batteries not included. Contents may settle during shipment. Use only as directed. No other warranty expressed or implied. Do not use while operating a motor vehicle or heavy equipment. Postage will be paid by addressee. Subject to CAB approval. This is not an offer to sell securities. Apply only to affected area. May be too intense for some viewers. Do not stamp. Use other side for additional listings. For recreational use only. Do not disturb. All models over 18 years of age. If condition persists, consult your physician. No user-serviceable parts inside. Freshest if eaten before date on carton. Subject to change without notice. Times approximate. Simulated picture. No postage necessary if mailed in the United States. Breaking seal constitutes acceptance of agreement. For off-road use only. As seen on TV. One size fits all. Many suitcases look alike. Contains a substantial amount of non-tobacco ingredients. Colors may, in time, fade. We have sent the forms which seem right for you. Slippery when wet. For office use only. Not affiliated with the American Red Cross. Drop in any mailbox. Edited for television. Keep cool. process promptly. Post office will not deliver without postage. List was current at time of printing. Return to sender, no forwarding order on file, unable to forward. Not responsible for direct, indirect, incidental or consequential damages resulting from any defect, error or failure to perform. At participating locations only. Not the Beatles. Penalty for private use. See label for sequence. Substantial penalty for early withdrawal. Do not write below this line. Falling rock. Lost ticket pays maximum rate. Your canceled check is your receipt. Add toner. Place stamp here. Avoid contact with skin. sanitized for your protection. Be sure each item is properly endorsed. Sign here without admitting guilt. Slightly higher west of the Mississippi. Employees and their families are not eligible. Beware of dog. Contestants have been briefed on some questions before the show. Limited time offer, call now to ensure prompt delivery. You must be present to win. No passes accepted for this engagement. No purchase necessary. Processed at location stamped in code at top of carton. Shading within a garment may occur. Use only in a well-ventilated are. Keep away from fire or flames. Replace with same type. Approved for veterans. Booths for two or more. Check here if tax deductible. Some equipment shown is optional. Price does not include taxes. No Canadian coins. Not recommended for children. Prerecorded for this time zone. Reproduction strictly prohibited. No solicitors. No alcohol, dogs or horses. No anchovies unless otherwise specified. Restaurant package, not for resale. List at least two alternate dates. First pull up, then pull down. Call toll free before digging. Driver does not carry cash. Some of the trademarks mentioned in this product appear for identification purposes only. Record additional transactions on back of previous stub. Unix is a registeredtrademark of AT&T. Do not fold, spindle or mutilate. No transfers issued until the bus comes to a complete stop. Package sold by weight, not volume. Your mileage may vary. This article does not reflect the thoughts or opinions of either myself, my company, my friends, or my cat. Don't quote me on that. Don't quote me on anything. All rights reserved. You may distribute this article freely but you may not make a profit from it. Terms are subject to change without notice. Illustrations are slightly enlarged to show detail. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is unintentional and purely coincidental. Do not remove this disclaimer under penalty of law. Hand wash only, tumble dry on low heat. Do not bend, fold, mutilate, or spindle. No substi

  • by TheTomcat (53158) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @12:45PM (#6805978) Homepage
    Here [slashdot.org].

    As mentioned in that story, my all-time favorite is from a Mackie (audio mixer) manual:
    "The mating ritual of consenting adult banana plugs".

    (anyone who's ever "mated" banana plugs knows exactly what the author was talking about. (-: )

    S
  • by skintigh2 (456496) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @01:35PM (#6806461)
    An anti-personnel landmine that reads simply "Front towards enemy."
    • It's funny you mention that ... I find that to be the prime example of the world's best UI. There's nothing else you need to know about the Claymore itself. Setting the fuses for it requires slightly more information, but if you are the grunt installing it, you need zero additional information to place the mine correctly. That is perfect.

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