Documentation - Or The Lack Thereof

Documentation - Or The Lack Thereof

Summary: A few weeks ago I bought an Acer Aspire One 522 netbook. At that time, when I first saw it advertised, I wanted to find out what the screen resolution was before buying it.


A few weeks ago I bought an Acer Aspire One 522 netbook. At that time, when I first saw it advertised, I wanted to find out what the screen resolution was before buying it. Well, in short, forget it. I couldn't find that information anywhere - on the Acer web sites for Switzerland, the U.K. or the U.S., in the advertising and promotional material for the system, or even on the box of the unit itself. Everything I could find said that it had an ATI Radeon graphic controller, and an HDMI port, but nothing said what the screen resolution was. The only way I was ever able to find it was to start up the system and check it myself.

I've just had a repeat of that adventure - there is currently an ASUS R051BX netbook on sale here, and I have exactly the same problem again. In fact, if anything it is a bit worse, because searching the ASUS web site it is difficult to find any indication that they even make such a model. I have found a number of articles about it in their Support area, but absolutely nothing anywhere else, and no technical specifications for it at all.

Finally, I've been loading and configuring my recently purchased HP Pavilion dm1-4010ez. There is a little LED in the F12 key, which is associated with the Fn-WiFi on/off function. When running windows, that LED is white when WiFi is on, and is off when WiFi is off. But when running Linux, it is orange when WiFi is on. What's the difference? Is this significant? What do the different colors of the LED mean? I have no idea - I have not been able to find any documentation, on the netbook, on the HP web sites, or anywhere else which explains it. I assumed there would be a "User Guide" or some such reference documentation included on the netbook itself, but I was wrong about that too. There is a VERY generic "HP Notebook Reference Guide" which looks to me as if it was written to cover every laptop that HP ever has or ever will sell. It is absolutely overflowing with section after section labeled with "Select Models", without of course saying which specific models might qualify for whatever that section might be talking about.

The point of all this is, when did the transition from printed documentation to "online" documentation, which I agree is a good thing because of the paper and weight saved, get changed to "no documentation"? Is this happening just because it is not obvious, nobody is looking, nobody cares, or what?

jw 12/1/2012

Topic: Linux

J.A. Watson

About J.A. Watson

I started working with what we called "analog computers" in aircraft maintenance with the United States Air Force in 1970. After finishing military service and returning to university, I was introduced to microprocessors and machine language programming on Intel 4040 processors. After that I also worked on, operated and programmed Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-8, PDP-11 (/45 and /70) and VAX minicomputers. I was involved with the first wave of Unix-based microcomputers, in the early '80s. I have been working in software development, operation, installation and support since then.

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  • My son gave me a framed saying to hang on my wall, several years ago. My first inclination was to not put in in my office, so that I would not be perceived as a cynic. Upon further reflection, I had an 'Aha!' moment, and decided that my son is a lot smarter than I am, and smarter than those who would misinterpret the message. It's on my wall.

    The message is universal, insofar as it answers most of the questions we ask which start with the words, "Why do (did/don't/won't/didn't...) they...?"

    Here is the saying:

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    Warmest regards...