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Re: Re: Re: Re: Does Mathematica really need more printed,

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg88348] Re: [mg88320] Re: [mg88272] Re: [mg88231] Re: [mg88197] Does Mathematica really need more printed,
  • From: Andrzej Kozlowski <akoz at mimuw.edu.pl>
  • Date: Fri, 2 May 2008 03:44:53 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <fuhfdc$ihb$1@smc.vnet.net> <fuhrka$s88$1@smc.vnet.net> <200805011027.GAA09875@smc.vnet.net>

To quote from a related thread:

"You and I, I'm afraid, just think differently." ;-)

To my mind, all software manuals are boring. Why I find them so, it  
would take too long to tell, but the reason is somewhat similar to why  
I find all mathematics books authored by the notorious Bourbaki  
terribly boring.

Wolfram's giant book was perhaps the most boring of them all (except,  
to some extent, the first edition, which I still have, both because  
Mathematica was brand new then and because it revealed some  
interesting information that can't be found in later editions). It was  
so boring that trying to read it even for 5 minutes would cause me  
immediately to go and make a cup of coffee or find some more urgent  
engagement. The result is that I have never read any of it, so its  
many editions must count as  the worst space-time wasters in my  
possession. On the other hand I read lots of interesting books about  
Mathematica, beginning, I think, with Roman Maeder's "Programming in  
Mathematica" (of which I own three versions) and ending with Michael  
Trott's excellent Guide Books. Wolfram's book only began to be useful  
for me when it appeared as part of Mathematica's on-line  
documentation, and in this form it has almost made up for all the  
waste of time and space caused by the appalling paper edition. So, for  
myself, I can only say  (to the paper edition) "good riddance".

Andrzej Kozlowski




On 1 May 2008, at 19:27, peter lindsay wrote:

> Ideally you want a book *and* the interactive help pages side by  
> side. In
> some circumstances there just is no substitute for the printed word.  
> Paper
> is far easier to read [ sorry, but it just is ] . They should never  
> have
> done away with Wolfram's printed manual - it was superb.
> P Lindsay
>
> On 30/04/2008, Murray Eisenberg <murray at math.umass.edu> wrote:
>>
>> Each Mathematica 6 Documentation Center page is a Mathematica  
>> notebook,
>> and when it appears it includes the usual control for magnifying
>> everything, up to 300%.  Surely that suffices.
>>
>> And I believe the default is configurable by means of the Options
>> Inspector: you use the Global category; search for Magnification;  
>> then
>> change that from the default value 1 to something higher.
>>
>> Unless you need severely compensating assistive technology, that  
>> should
>> suffice.
>>
>>
>> Richard Palmer wrote:
>>> I have an additional concern regarding current on-line
>> documentation.  Some
>>> of it does not have a resizable font.  That makes it difficult for
>> people
>>> like me that have glasses and use portable computers with smaller
>> screens.
>>> I hope that can be fixed in a subsequent release.
>>>
>>
>>> Regards, Richard
>>>
>>>
>>> On 4/28/08, AES <siegman at stanford.edu> wrote:
>>>> In response to Andrzej Kozlowski's comment
>>>>
>>>>>   Judging by quite many "ordinary  users" I known, the views you  
>>>>> have
>>>> been
>>>>>   expressing, particularly those on the need for printed software
>>>> manuals
>>>>>   rather make you a memeber of a minority, and moreover a rather
>>>>>  rapidly declining one. I for one, . . .
>>>>
>>>> Does Mathematica really need printed, more introductory level
>>>> documentation (aka books, or manuals) to add to its excellent,  
>>>> but less
>>>> readable, online documentation?
>>>>
>>>> Let's take an experimental or "reality-based" approach to this  
>>>> question
>>>> (however much that approach may be out of favor with our current
>>>> administration in Washington . . .)
>>>>
>>>> Adobe Illustrator is, in my opinion anyway, an excellent piece of
>>>> technical software, comparable in quality and usefulness and at  
>>>> least
>>>> somewhat comparable in technical complexity, to Mathematica.
>>>>
>>>> There's probably a sizable overlap --- or at very least, a very  
>>>> sizable
>>>> _potential_ market overlap --- between Illustrator and Mathematica
>> users
>>>> (new graphics commands that are very Illustrator-like have in  
>>>> fact been
>>>> added in 6.0).
>>>>
>>>> Both programs have something of an initial learning curve for  
>>>> "ordinary
>>>> users"; both have excellent detailed online reference  
>>>> documentation.
>>>>
>>>> Mathematica is, I would judge, actually substantial more complex  
>>>> and
>>>> requires more learning for an average individual than does  
>>>> Illustrator.
>>>> On my Mac, Illustrator 11 is 75 MB for the app itself, plus  
>>>> another 75
>>>> MB of supplemental stuff.  I didn't try to dig inside the  
>>>> Mathematica
>>>> package, but it's over 1 GB in my Applications folder, plus  
>>>> whatever
>>>> additional material is stuffed away elsewhere on my HD.   
>>>> Illustrator
>>>> manuals tend to be 300 to 500 pages; the Mathematica Book for v5  
>>>> was
>>>> just under 1500.  Mathematica users, especially less experienced  
>>>> ones,
>>>> might need more forms and varieties of documentation, that  
>>>> Illustrator
>>>> users.
>>>>
>>>> So, to get some idea what sort of introductory printed books and
>> manuals
>>>> might be useful for Mathematica, we might ask: what sort of
>> introductory
>>>> printed books and manuals are readily available, right now, for
>>>> Illustrator?   (Noting again that Illustrator also has good, well
>>>> organized, readily accessible online documentation, Help files, and
>>>> tutorials --- along with helpful user forums on its web site.)
>>>>
>>>> A quick look at amazon.com then brings up a list of at least twelve
>> (12)
>>>> such introductory books or manuals on Illustrator (list appended
>> below).
>>>> All of these books are currently available in stock on amazon (and
>> three
>>>> are on my bookshelf) --- as compared to _none_ (as yet, anyway) for
>>>> Mathematica 6.
>>>>
>>>> At least half of these Illustrator manuals can be identified as  
>>>> current
>>>> editions of earlier versions that were published for earlier  
>>>> versions
>> of
>>>> Illustrator.  In other words, earlier versions apparently sold well
>>>> enough that authors were willing to write and publishers were  
>>>> willing
>> to
>>>> bring out 2nd, 3rd, even 4th editions of these manuals, updated  
>>>> for the
>>>> current version of Illustrator.
>>>>
>>>> Or in other words, for me anyway:  The experimental evidence is  
>>>> that
>>>> these books  _clearly meet user needs_, sufficiently so that  
>>>> authors
>> are
>>>> willing to invest their energies in writing them; publishers  
>>>> publish
>>>> them; and users buy them, including more than once;
>>>>
>>>> Should Wolfram maybe recognize this point?
>>>>
>>>> =====================================
>>>>
>>>> *  Adobe Illustrator CS3 Classroom in a Book by Adobe Creative Team
>>>> (2007)  $35
>>>>
>>>> *  The Adobe Illustrator CS3 Wow! Book by Sharon Steuer (2007) $24
>>>>
>>>> *  Adobe Illustrator CS3 How-Tos: 100 Essential Techniques by  
>>>> Karlins
>>>> and Hopkins (2007) $10
>>>>
>>>> *  Real World Adobe Illustrator CS3 by Mordy Golding (2007) $20
>>>>
>>>> *  Illustrator CS3 Bible by Ted Alspach ( 2007) $25
>>>>
>>>> *  Adobe Illustrator for Fashion Design by Susan Lazear (2008) $35
>>>>
>>>> *  Fashion Designer's Handbook for Adobe Illustrator by Centner and
>>>> Vereker (2007) $50
>>>>
>>>> *  Illustrator CS3 for Windows and Macintosh (Visual QuickStart  
>>>> Guide)
>>>> by Weinmann and Lourekas (2007) $20
>>>>
>>>> *  Adobe Illustrator CS3 Revealed by Chris Botello (Aug 31, 2007)  
>>>> $45
>>>>
>>>> *  Best Practice: The Pros On Adobe Illustrator by Toni Toland  
>>>> (Aug 16,
>>>> 2006) $35
>>>>
>>>> *  Adobe Illustrator CS2 Revealed, Education Edition by Chris  
>>>> Botello
>>>> (2005) $40
>>>>
>>>> *  Illustrator CS for Dummies by Ted Alspach (2003) $25
>>>>
>>>> =====================================
>>>>
>>>>
>>>
>>>
>>
>>
>> --
>> Murray Eisenberg                     murray at math.umass.edu
>> Mathematics & Statistics Dept.
>> Lederle Graduate Research Tower      phone 413 549-1020 (H)
>> University of Massachusetts                413 545-2859 (W)
>> 710 North Pleasant Street            fax   413 545-1801
>> Amherst, MA 01003-9305
>>
>>
>
>
> -- 
> peter lindsay
> computing officer
> mathematical institute
> university of st andrews
> ky16 9ss
> phone: 01334463756
>
> The University of St Andrews is a charity registered in Scotland : No
> SC013532
>
>



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