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Re: Poor State of the Man Pages

Shlomi Fish
November 27, 2003 12:36
Re: Poor State of the Man Pages
Message ID:
On Thu, 27 Nov 2003, Dave Rolsky wrote:

> On Thu, 27 Nov 2003, Shlomi Fish wrote:
> > "Programming Perl" is such a good reference. However, it is not available
> > online for him to make use of. I can lend him my copy, but so far he
> > wanted to have a copy all of his own. And he found the man pages very hard
> > to understand.
> Tell your cheap-ass friend to plunk down the $40 and buy a damn copy of
> the book.  Yes, I know it's not dirt-cheap, but it's not prohibitively
> expensive for anyone with the financial resources to already own a
> computer!

My friend at the moment has a low-paying half-time job and is supported by
his parents. The situation is tough here and many people are out of job,
much less my friend who still has a lot to learn and has to get a decent
experience. Note that in Israel $40 is quite a lot as even high tech wages
go into 40 NIS (or $8 dollars) per hour. Maybe more. Still, income tax
takes most of it, unfortunately.

While my friend likes to learn Perl now, he cannot afford to buy a book
for anything he would like to learn. I survived for a long time without
reading too many paperback books, and I don't see why my friend should
follow suit. And besides, like I said: I can temporarily lend him my own

> Buying Perl books supports the authors (like Larry, Randall, and many
> others on this list) who've contributed to Perl.  Complaining that
> learning something requires buying a couple books is ridiculous.  There
> are not many things in this world worth learning that can be easily
> learned with absolutely no investment of money.

Actually, as far as computer technologies are concerned, the opposite is
true. If you can't learn a computer technology from online resources
alone, then there's something very fishy about it.
Take a look at Python, PHP, MySQL, PostgreSQL, GNU make, GNU awk, qmail,
Ruby and the list go on. They all have very adequate documentation online
for beginners, as well as reference material that is very accessible.

Generally, the developers of a technology must make sure it is adequately
documented in an accessible online format if they actually want people to
learn it. Paperback books are a deprecated, inferior form of
documentation. When I'm hacking at something I usually don't consult a
book I have for reference. It is simply too inconvenient. Likewise, I
learned many things from online resources alone.

If you tell someone that he needs paperware as a reference for a
technology or as a way to learn it, then it means that someone did not
give enough time to make sure it is adequately documented as is.

> But $40 is a pretty small
> investment, I'd say.

Are you willing to make a check for the name of my friend to cover the
expenses of buying the book? Or order it from him in Amazon?


	Shlomi Fish

> -dave
> /*=======================
> House Absolute Consulting
> =======================*/

Shlomi Fish
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An apple a day will keep a doctor away. Two apples a day will keep two
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