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For those of us who have been using audio and music gear, much of which has come from Japan, for 25 years or more, this is like shooting fish in a barrel. There were so many bad manuals that it's hard to pick out a worst one, and the bad ones are simply forgettable. The most amusing service manual I've ever read was for my 1972 Datsun 240Z. Very creative English translations from Japanese.
"Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then
Photoshop Elements. Manual very well written for someone who already was an expert, but completely mystifying for anyone just starting out; which, of course, is what the product's made for.
Funniest one I ever saw was for a bicycle a coworker had bought for his kid for Christmas. First page had a full page big black letters warning: 'THIS BICYCLE MUST BE ASSEMBLED BEFORE BEING RIDDEN'. Considering it was completely in piece, that should have been rather obvious. Then again, some moron may have hurt themselves and sued.
Worst - several Roland manuals. Lots of dry, useless information.
Best - Emu XL-7 Command Station. I could actually create music after reading the manual.
Funniest I ever read was on a Material Safety Data Sheet. "Warning: Upon contact with skin immediately wash off with soap and warm water." The material in question was hand soap.
Worst non musical manual - Unisys Kentucky Medicaid implementation manual from years ago when I started my current job. I would set things up according to the manual and billing would fail. I would call and they would say "There is an error on page XX." I would call again with a problem and they would say "There is an error on page YY." This continues for a while and I finally asked why they did not send a revised manual. The reply was "It is easier to let people call when they have a problem and we tell them about the errors in the manual."
My friends have big houses and new cars. I own music equipment.
I'd have to say Roland. Anything from the 80s / 90s was pretty dreadful.
"Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."
- George Carlin
"It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."
- Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears
"The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."
A couple of my point and shoot cameras (generally by Panasonic) have had very funny manuals. They do things (in the full manual--not the "Get Started Guide") like explain two scene settings for taking photos.... Child1--For taking photos of children and Child 2--for taking photos of children. Okay, how are they different? When would I use 1 and when would I use 2. When I buy second party books on using my cameras it is nice that they make the information a bit clearer.