Ever tried learning a program from a book?

  Chris the Ancient 16:29 03 Jul 2008

I have, a couple of times. And what a disappointment.

About three years ago, I wanted to develop my skills a bit further in Access databases. So, I bought a book that looked good as I browsed around the shop. And, being sad, took it on holiday with me. It looked quite good and thorough and I, seemingly, could follow it.

When I got home, I started going through the book; and about 35% of the way through, things didn't work as they should. No problem. Visit the website for the book. It was no longer supported! But, there was a link to another site that offered support. Went there and, guess what. The forum was full of reports about the same problem as I had - but with no resolutions. One 'wasted' book.

You'd think I'd learn, wouldn't you?

Last year I bought a book on MS Project as I had done a fairly basic course on it and I wanted to be a bit better at it. The book came highly recommended through a well know distributor. Started fine enough with what (apparently) was going to be a 'build up' exercise. That was the theory.

As I went through, each chapter (apparently) built on the previous exercise. In practice, oh no it didn't. Different, and previously unmentioned, elements kept appearing in the project and it didn't stay on with, and develop, one project. It darted all over the place. And with loads of errors in it. Another wasted book as the frustration in not being able to follow a sensible route.

Anyone else had similar horrendous d.i.y stories on learning a program from a book?


  ventanas 16:51 03 Jul 2008

Just ploughing through one on Lightroom, but also using the examples and instructions in conjunction with the program. I have to say, without the book I wouldn't have learned half so much. Lightroom now does what I want and is one hell of a program.

  ventanas 16:57 03 Jul 2008

I meant to add, I also have third party books on Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, Nikon Capture NX and quite a few others, including Vista and Office.
I find them invaluable to get you started and are always there as a reference afterwards.
I suppose it depends on the quality of the book, and being fortunate enough to choose the right one.
With Lightroom I made a mistake with my first purchase and didn't get anywhere. But the book i use now is excellent
If anyones interested - Lightroom Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby. it is also very amusing, which does help to lighten the job.

  Kemistri 17:30 03 Jul 2008

Not for applications, but for code. CSS, Javascript, PHP/MySQL, Ajax and Rails development were all learned primarily from books as I find that by far the best way to learn such things. But most applications don't really benefit all that much from the book treatment.

  spuds 17:55 03 Jul 2008

I am terrible book student. For some unknown reason, I much prefer the look over someone's shoulder approach in dealing with things.

  Pamy 18:35 03 Jul 2008

I love having a book on a subject, especialy a manual. I think it's a combination of a book and "Nelly" showing you what the book means, but that is not always possible, so thats where this forum kicks in.

  Noldi 18:40 03 Jul 2008

I learnt AutoCad from a book also a lot of Excel came from a book. Its helps if you have your own interesting project to do. I have tried on and of for the last few years with MS Access from a book but not a lot of headway. I have a idea of what I want to create but find Excel does the job.


  Forum Editor 19:02 03 Jul 2008

to get to grips with software tutorial books - I find it far easier to play around with the software itself, and find my own way through.

  justme 19:31 03 Jul 2008

I agree with FE that the best way to learn is to 'play' with the program and find out what it does.

However, a well written manual is absolutely necessary to help with some 'feature' of the program where it is not immediately obvious how to do it. This is particularly true if you want to write some sort of program to automate parts of it.

My experience with teach yourself books is somewhat mixed. They can often teach the basics, which to an experienced computer user are normally obvious. They fall down on the more difficult parts of the program.

  Noldi 20:35 03 Jul 2008

I must add I used the complete reference books not learning as you go books.


  jack 20:37 03 Jul 2008

by reading about the topic or being told.
I am far better at having been given the rudiments left to fumble.
Some one once wrote about an early Desk Top Publishing program the best manual is the one put together by a user- not the programs creator.

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