{There's a lot of opinion in this reply!}

On Mon, 12 Jul 2004 22:23:00 -0400, Peter T. Daniels
<grammatim@...> wrote:

> "Text Selector tool"?

IIrc, you have a Mac (I like Macs). I'm assuming that Adobe designed both
the Windows and Mac versions to have similar menus and appearances. I have
Version 6.0 (for Windows); I assume Adobe keeps the same major version
numbers (i.e., 6)for Macs, but I'm not sure. Try the View menu, look for
Toolbars, and see that the Basic toolbar is selected; the menu item
probably has a checkmark next to it. If the Basic toolbar is selected,
you might see an icon consisting of an "I-beam" cursor and a serif-cap. T
within a dashed-outline box. Next to that should be the words "Select

From that point, you need to have a PDF document in the Reader
"workspace", and perhaps need a document with selectable text, otherwise
you can't select the tool.

You probably don't need to read the Help file on selecting text, but it
looks concise and well-written; worth a look.

> Why did software stop coming with manuals?

Partly because numerous users are not likely to take the time to read
manuals. Until the character of our lives calms down some (when?), I think
many people (could be wrong!) are much less inclined to study manuals.

As well, manuals are relatively costly to write, edit, and print. I also
suspect (perhaps mistakenly, perhaps not) that the proportion of adults
who read only with difficulty is far more than is generally acknowledged.
It seems to be that reading is a difficult and disagreeable experience for
too many people. Furthermore, if they are required to think, that can be
making a very distressing request.

Yet another point is that some manuals are poorly written; it's not at all
easy to write a good one; I know.

Still more: Well-written Help files can, for the most part, replace
manuals. Of course, some applications (usually simple ones) don't have
Help files, and some Help files (such as Word 97) are badly written.

Among computer people, "RTFM" used to be the unfriendly advice given;
substituting a word, that's "read the fine manual".
(There's a server at MIT called <www.rtfm.mit.edu>, I'm almost certain.
First time I saw that, I found it very funny.)

> If you don't know something is supposed to be able to do something, how
> do you know to look for that capability?

That's more difficult (for me) to answer. Part of it is to be aware of
what can be done and how to do it. Curiosity helps, a *lot*.

You might be using an application for the first time, which begins the
process of learning about it, which should be reasonably comprehensive
(not prohibitively difficult, if it's a well-designed application). As you
learn about it, you should be aware of most of the things it can do (but,
see my comments below about Microsoft Office; see "(Big exception: ...)"
Once you have learned it, upgrades and updates are likely to require only
a modest amount of learning to include them into what you know already.

Information about updates is often very useful, in my experience.

Although some of us tend to learn how to operate cell phones, and
essentially everybody can operate traditional phones and cars, it seems
that is not necessarily true of computers. While Macs started out to be
easy and intuitive to use, I think they have declined some, but am not
sure. Nevertheless, x86/Wintel machines have been harder to use, because
the hardware and software designers in general didn't care enough about
ease of use, and as a consequence, even experienced computer users
probably have significant holes in their knowledge.

Nevertheless, there's a common body of knowledge most computer users
should have; it's more difficult to learn than it should be, but many have

While I am no longer good at doing it, myself, I can highly recommend
systematically going through every menu item you can select, once you see
a new application (program). If you see something you don't understand,
try to find out about it.

(Big exception: Microsoft Office applications, which can do all sorts of
things only maybe 10% of its users, those who work in huge companies, will
ever use. This is opinion, but do you really often need to embed a movie
into a spreadsheet, and within the movie, display a word document with
animated graphics in it? That same document has links via a virtual
private network to a server halfway around the globe...)

> (And how are you supposed to figure out which label the engineers put on
> the function you're looking for? It was entirely accidentally that I was
> able to find out how to do an overstrike in Word2001.)

If a product has oddball names/terms for things, or works in a
non-standard fashion, it won't survive long beyond being announced.
If Word 2001 had a decent Help file, its index most definitely would have
at least one entry dealing with overstruck characters. (One confusion
factor is that the modes created by the Insert key on x86/Wintel machines
(and, more that likely, on Macs) are called "Insert" and (apparently)
"Overstrike"; the latter is wrong, and should be "Replace".


Nicholas Bodley /*|*\ Waltham, Mass.
Opera 7.5 (Build 3778), using M2