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OPINION: Quick Start Guides for broadcast

Our equipment comes with full instructions and lots of helpful resources so please use it, pleads Ian Prowse, director, Vortex Communications

We’ve got a new oven – and it’s a steam oven! How on earth were we persuaded after 31 years of using our faithful fan oven is hard to fathom but there it is.

We had heard here-and-there that steam cooking is better/healthier/more economical/and so on and so forth; it is pyrolytic too and not that much more than the standard model – so why not?

In it went, looking much like the old one and for weeks, it did what the old one did – maybe keeping us better informed about how long it has been switched on and just how its temperature is doing. It has three knobs instead of two which pop-out when you push them – but basically it works – and works very well.

So far though – no steam – and no clue as to how to do it and why and with what. The manual is in 40 languages with the first 30 pages covering safe operation but on page 56 is a short paragraph about the ‘third knob’ which when you push it in, pops out to reveal a water funnel. Other secrets are revealed – you can plug in a special temperature probe inside the oven and there is a pipe that connects inside somehow to distribute the steam – but nothing actually about cooking.

The only other clue we see is a reference web link which when carefully entered into the browser takes you to YouTube where the real secrets start to be revealed. Then we notice the square pattern beside the Steam paragraph and scanning this QR codec downloads the ‘steam cooking’ app onto both Android and iPhones with descriptions, examples and recipes demonstrated step-by-step.
Now, as they say, we are cooking with gas.

So what has this to do with IBC and broadcast? Looking back at our own products, when we began back in the 1980s we would always include a manual about what the thing did, how it worked and how to use it – often with sufficient information to fully adjust (even re-build) the entire piece of equipment. The manual was a significant part of the product and took time, effort and not-inconsiderable expense to produce.

Then as time moved on and there were fewer maintainable parts, the technical part of the book became smaller and the book became more an ‘Operations Manual’ but still with sufficient information to fully understand and work the device.

Along came the CD and as we prided ourselves on intuitive operation and that a ‘Quick Start Guide’ would be sufficient, this became the norm with the full Operations manual – now in a distributable electronic format – sent out on CD in the box, and now downloadable from the net. Of course we provide other resources – YouTube demonstrations, operational tips and so on, probably more information than ever before – but after the ‘steam oven’ experience I wonder how many customers realise this.

So our mission hereafter is that the statutory information does not become the main part of our Quick Start Guides and that these provide sufficient clues to make things do more than just work. And having gone to the lengths of providing all the other resources and software tools, that we make them easier to track down – and that we keep them up-to-date.

And for the user, to get the best out of the kit, please be aware that there is much more stuff than in the quick start guide; we’ve gone to a lot of trouble to produce it, so please use it!