The Sacred Texts
Instruction manuals. Love 'em or hate 'em, you are eventually going to have to fish out the one that came with your camera or flash and read it...in many cases you will do this after the equipment has stopped working and emitted a puff of blue smoke.
Had you gone into the thing prior to this momentous event, you might have discovered how to avoid it. Most modern equipment will not self-destruct - you actually have to perform a series of incorrect things to blow it up. Of course if you are using a computer this does not apply - computers will wilfully throw themselves off the electronic cliff like expensive lemmings. They mutate when they are left to their own devices. And you can be sure that in a few months NO devices will work with them.
The dedicated reader of instruction manuals will discover that there are different levels of communication skill amongst the companies. I can genuinely praise Nikon and Fuji for their manuals, and Pentax are not far behind. The paper books you get with new cameras are plodding affairs - not a lot of plot development and no dirty pictures to look at - but if you read them you will get all the facts you need to run the cameras. Sometimes the camera designers have been drinking at lunchtime but at least their sins are accurately reported in the books.
Not so with the instruction manuals of the Metz flash company. Their products are excellent - I have a handful of their flashes that have soldiered on for nearly 40 years and they still pump out the light. But the instruction manuals have been written by someone who was in command of the German army - possibly at Stalingrad. They are incomprehensibly complex for the pre-digital era, and worse once the shift to digital began. The only thing that saves Metz is the fact that the flashes can largely be left to work by themselves while you get on with it.
We've all laughed at Japlish and Chinglish advertisements and instruction books at one time or the other. Of course none of us write in Japanese or Mandarin to have our own mistakes seen. And the people in Japan or China would probably be more polite about it. Fortunately the writers of their technical pamphlets seem to be amenable to criticism as I have seen marked improvement in brochures from one year to he next. Mistakes now are nothing more than typos and have nothing of the howling humour of the 60's.
Will it get better? I hope so, as worldwide communication becomes more direct. For myself, I took as much instruction as I needed and learned a new skill from seeing Gary Fong show his light diffusers on video clips. But I still would like to have a book to carry in my camera bag if the equipment is complex. If only to provide tinder when I set the thing on fire...