User Documentation Experience

Earlier this week, I finally joined the 21st Century by upgrading my mobile phone from that Nokia that everyone had in about 1999, to that Nokia that everyone had about 6 months ago, with the camera, colour screen, java games and polyphonic ringtones. Not, you understand, because I actually need any of that stuff–my requirements in a phone don’t extend much beyond being able to make phone calls, and send text messages–but more because my phone requirements also include having buttons that work, and being able to plug the charger in. Apparently dropping your phone on the floor at semi-regular intervals over a 3 year period doesn’t actually do it any good after all.

It took a while to get used to the fact that they’ve gone and moved all the buttons around, and even added extra ones (not the number buttons obviously, that would be silly–I’m not implying that Nokia have invented some new numbers or anything), but I worked it out eventually. It was slightly more of a challenge getting my phone to use a ringtone that wasn’t utterly awful.

The preset tones that Nokia chose to include with the phone were all appalling. They didn’t even bother to include anything that just sounds like a phone ringing, so for the first couple of days I was forced to use the least worst option–the dreaded Nokia Tune in all its polyphonic glory. I didn’t think it was possible, but somehow the engineering geniuses at Nokia have managed to make Dom Joly’s Trigger Happy ringtone sound even worse by rendering it using four simultaneous notes. It’s just as well nobody ever calls me anyway.

Resolving to do something about this, I went on the Internet looking for something better. Now there’s no way I’m giving my credit card details or phone number to some shabby website in return for some awful ringtone, so instead I downloaded some Nokia software for converting audio and transferring files to and from the phone. Unfortunately, this lead to me spending a pleasant evening tearing my hair out trying to make my phone’s infrared port talk to my laptop, and becomming increasingly frustrated with the inadequate information in the user manual. (Note to Nokia Technical Writers: Look, if the only way to make the infrared work is to change the baud rate on your PC to less than 112,500bps, don’t you think it might be a good idea to say so somewhere in the manual? Am I supposed to work it out for myself? Gah!) At one point, Sal and I resorted to waving the phone around in front of the computer in the vain hope of establishing a connection.

Then when I finally got it working, it merrily started deleting my old text messages and stored phone numbers, as it tried to synchronise itself with some copy it thought it had made on my PC, but I got most of them back in the end, somehow.

[I ended up using Street Spirit, (found via this collection of MIDI sounds). It’s no Itchy and Scratchy, but it’ll do…]

2 thoughts on “User Documentation Experience”

  1. “don’t you think it might be a good idea to say so somewhere in the manual”

    No one reads the manuals, Matt. NO ONE.

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