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Rated: E · Critique · Technology · #2275054
Beware George Plumley's promise of "knowledge in a day"
In order to not waste your time, I'll make this brief: this book is a lousy trainer. If you're looking for training at the basic level, go elsewhere for help. If you're looking for a refresher course, also look elsewhere.

The idea behind training should be to help a beginner, not confound them- and the way you do this is to present step-by-step instructions. But does that happen in this "trainer"? Nope.

Say your web page is all set and you want to create your very first blog post. You go to Chapter Six (Adding a New Post). You're shown how to open the Add New Post screen. So far so good. But before explaining the next step, the author makes his first of several fatal mistakes: he drills down, in this case to the background of how the different elements function. After a couple paragraphs, you're finally told to where to enter a title, though the way the information is presented, you have to intuit that this is the next step. Following this, you're distracted by a reference to permalinks, which is not necessary information, at this point.

The next paragraph refers to the text editor or Post Box, though the box itself is not labeled at all. (More background.) Too bad the author doesn't tell you to enter some content there- especially since this is the next step. No, he'd rather talk about modes and HTML coding, before rushing on to Upload/Insert and Publish functions. The befuddled student skips the next paragraph (about tags and categories), drawn by the promise in the next section's bolded heading, Writing a Post. Finally!

But it's tough sledding. First the Button Bar is explained, then we're hit with this: "Before ... actually entering some text, it's important to say something about the realities of Visual mode." And so off the author goes about WYSIWYG, "to avoid confusion and disappointment." Well, it may already be too late.

On he goes for four paragraphs, talking about style sheets, previews, text editors, spacing, formatting, links, HTML, lists and coding. If the reader hasn't tossed the book across the room by this time, he or she is beckoned on by the next section header: Working with Text.

"Start typing in the Text Editor box"- that area that is not labeled Text Editor. Then the author starts talking about how the Text Editor size can be changed, and how you can keep track of the word count, along with more tips about formatting. After a couple paragraphs explaining new paragraphs and keyboard shortcuts, we finally reach the part about saving your work.

My question is this: why not just give us step-by-step instructions like the following:

1) At top of Admin screen, hover over "New".
2) Select "Post". The "Add New Post" screen appears.
3) In the empty box below "Add New Post," enter the title. Example: My First Job
4) Left-click to place the cursor in the larger empty box (below the formatting icons).
5) Enter the text for the post.
6) When finished adding text, select "Save Draft" from the Publish section on the right side of the screen.

But instead of step-by-step instructions, we're treated to an entire book full of theory and concept-heavy information, the actual steps buried within or beneath jargon.

I intend no malice toward the author. But if he's going to call a book a "trainer," he should structure it as a manual that actually trains. Otherwise, his book is no better than those three-inch-thick doorstop "bibles" Microsoft and others sell to the unwary and uneducated.
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