Literature is Fabulous (Even When Dull)
You have a three-pound brain. You can’t possibly know everything. The world has eight to ten million tons of brain. The rest of the world outnumbers you, but some folks wrote some of what they know and you can have it.
Downsides to using literature do exist. Customers watching you look things up think you’re not so smart after all. They believe they should pay less, or nothing, since this must be just a hobby for you. And it means flipping pages to find the passage you want, that takes time, and time is money.
But in the long run you make more money. If you do it for yourself, your computer works better and does it sooner and for less cost. So, choose good literature, read it before you need it, and look up specifics when you’re working. (You could tell customers you have to utter magic incantations and the Ghouls of the Byte are sensitive to the presence of the uninitiated, sorry.)
Also, it’s dull, especially the official stuff. Nothing’s to be done about that. Some For Dummies books have good cartoons, but third-party books tend to skip some minor subjects the official manuals cover. You’ll likely need some of those minor subjects sooner or later, so get the manufacturers’ lit, too.
Get it while it’s fresh, or as soon as you first have the product the lit’s about. Once it’s outdated, someone will have it, but it can be awfully hard to get your hands on precisely the version you need. If you can’t buy it, third-party books may be listed in WworldCat.org and, if so, you can try asking your local public library about borrowing it, but that costs the library and they may not have the budget for it, plus you have to return it. So, buying early and building your own private library can pay off in the long run.
This also applies to software.
This also applies to lots of other things. And if something is dangerous if misused and is a current product, it’s even easier to get an official manual, at least in the U.S. Roughly speaking, they’re afraid that you’ll ask for the manual, they’ll refuse, you’ll push the wrong button, your house will burn down, and you’ll sue them. The law of product liability might apply. That may be true even if you don’t own the item but are responsible for running it, as I found with a building’s water heater.
Search the Web for what you want and download it to writable discs, which are smaller and cheaper than library shelves. But you should have two computers, so that one being broken doesn’t prevent you from accessing your literature on the other machine.