Ann R. Thryft; Other than knowing the other techs were unsuccessful, I didn't know what testing they had done. I did have the advantage of more experience with that timer from running laboratory tests.
I also have the bad habit of reading manuals and instructions. Some technicians seem to believe 'real men don't read manuals'. The solution may be hidden in an unrelated chapter, or only inferred to, but many times the answer is in the manual. On the other hand, unless the manual is formatted to be printed, it may be useless. An on-line manual needs to be formatted so that it can be flipped through page-by-page. The example that I use of a poor manual was trying to find how to delete a chart in Excel. You can't 'delete' a chart. You can't 'erase' a chart. But if you already knew how to 'remove' a chart, you wouldn't need the manual.
Glenn, sounds like your predecessors didn't work as carefully or methodically as you did. I'm also a fan of reading instructions before proceeding with building, installing, or troubleshooting something, or using a new machine. First, I read through the procedures at least once to make sure I have all the tools and supplies I need, and to determine where I'll be doing a repair or assembly task: a table, the floor, outside on the deck, etc.
I wish I had your discipline, Ann. I usually just dig in and refer to the instructions when I run into trouble. I think the value of each approach depends on the quality of the instructions. I recently had a clogged vacuum. When I wasn't able to locate the area of clogging, I turned to the instructions. They were of no help. So I continued a trial-and-error approach until I found and fixed the problem.
Manuals should have a good index with cross references. What someone thinks of as a temperature sensor, someone else might think of as a temperature switch or temperature detector. So listing all three in an index helps people get to the information no matter what they call something. Indexing requires patience and thoroughness.
I find the lack of cross references particulary troublesome in software books and documents. In a C-language reference book I use often, I find two references to hexadecimal numbers and hex numbering in the index. But no reference to how to format data to display it in as hex values. In a perfect world, the index would include:
hexadecimal, printing of
hexadecimal, display of
Under the heading of printf my book's index points to pages about printing floating-point numbers and strings, but nothing about other formats such as scientific notation or octal. An index makes or breaks documentation.
One of the BEST "books" containing an index is the McMASTER CARR SUPPLY catalog. There is so much redundancy that it is almost sickening, but as was posted, one person's widget might be someone else's doohickey. Nevertheless, they both exist in that index. Sure makes life a lot easier when poring through a catalog of 5,000 + pages.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.