Unicode/ascii encoding nightmare

Cliff Wells cliff at develix.com
Tue Nov 7 23:01:39 CET 2006

On Tue, 2006-11-07 at 08:10 +0200, Hendrik van Rooyen wrote:
> "John Machin" <sjmachin at lexicon.net> wrote:
> 8<---------------------------------------
> > I strongly suggest that you read the docs *FIRST*, and don't "tinker"
> > at all.
> >

>  This is *good* advice - its unlikely to be followed though, as the OP is prolly
> just like most of us - you unpack the stuff out of the box and start assembling
> it, and only towards the end, when it wont fit together, do you read the manual
> to see where you went wrong...

I fall right into this camp(fire).  I'm always amazed and awed at people
who actually read the docs *thoroughly* before starting.  I know some
people do but frankly, unless it's a step-by-step tutorial, I rarely
read the docs beyond getting a basic understanding of what something
does before I start "tinkering".

I've always been a firm believer in the Chinese proverb:

I hear and I forget
I see and I remember
I do and I understand

Of course, I usually just skip straight to the third step and try to
work backwards as needed.  This usually works pretty well but when it
doesn't it fails horribly.  Unfortunately (for me), working from step
one rarely works at all, so that's the boat I'm stuck in.

I've always been a bit miffed at the RTFM crowd (and somewhat jealous, I
admit).  I *do* RTFM, but as often as not the fine manual confuses as
much as clarifies.  I'm not convinced this is the result of poor
documentation so much as that I personally have a different mental
approach to problem-solving than the others who find documentation
universally enlightening.  I also suspect that I'm not alone in my
approach and that the RTFM crowd is more than a little close-minded
about how others might think about and approach solving problems and
understanding concepts. 

Also, much documentation (including the Python docs) tends to be
reference-manual style.  This is great if you *already* understand the
problem and just need details, but does about as much for
*understanding* as a dictionary does for learning a language.  When I'm
perusing the Python reference manual, I usually find that 10 lines of
example code are worth 1000 lines of function descriptions and

Just my $0.02.


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