Of Manuals and Misspellings

      January 9th, 2010

ProofreaderIn my previous post, I briefly mentioned the nightmare resulting from having my local RainSoft dealer install a whole house filtration system. Now that the system is unfortunately a part of our house, I’m trying to work out the nuts and bolts as we slowly return to normalcy.

As such, I’ve looked at the slim Owner’s Manuals that came with the system. Here are some highlights:

On page 7 of the Owner’s Manual for the “TC-M Conditioner Series Water Treatment System” (Rev: A 06/09) we find,

“If water contains iron, manganese or hydrogen sulfide, a seperate iron removal system is suggested to be installed prior to the conditioner.”

Aside from the awful sentence structure, they misspelled the word, “separate”. This, my friends, is a word that a spell checker easily finds.

A couple paragraphs later on the same page, we have:

“Dain lines over 50 feet long, may need to be increased in size to allow the proper flow.”

That’s right, “Dain lines”. Again, not a word, and something a spell checker would easily find. The comma placement is also wrong.

Is this nitpicky? Perhaps. I don’t go looking for these things, but typically when you find mistakes in manuals they are ones which are not picked up by spell checkers. You know the company put extra minimal effort into a manual when they misspell words like “drain” and “separate”.

I have experience translating and proofreading manuals and, while tedious to write and correct, manuals are important. Many customers do actually read manuals and it reflects poorly on a product or service when the manual is half-assed.

I have not yet read all of the wonderful literature accompanying our new RainSoft system. I just hope they put more care into making their products than they do in their installations and manuals.

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Filed under: Home Equipment,Stupidity

You Down With AB1953?

      December 26th, 2009

AeratorsI realize I’ve reached a new low low in terms of lame titles, but wanted to briefly discuss Assembly Bill 1953. Beginning in 2010, the bill requires all potable water pipes and fixtures to be lead free*. Oh yes, the lovely asterisk. I stumbled upon this little doozy while hunched over at my local Home Depot looking for new aerators for every faucet in my house.

The situation was actually a bit funny because Home Depot had gotten me in this mess to begin with. They’ve coupled with a local RainSoft dealer and hidden their DIY water softeners way in a back corner somewhere. Long story short, I made the horrible mistake of having RainSoft/Home Depot install a whole house water filtration system. It has been a total nightmare with such highlights as soldering flux firing out of my kitchen faucet, several bathfuls of black water, a tub which required lengthy cleaning sessions to partially remove black/brown residue, ongoing cleanup of wherever the incompetent RainSoft installer worked. I have much much more to say on this topic, but will have to write about it another time. Oh RainSoft, you have had not heard the last of me.

But I digress…. So there I was in Home Depot trying to buy five aerators. Their selection was pretty sparse (perhaps because of the upcoming law), but I managed to find a Neoperl product which seemed to fit the bill. And there it was in big capital letters: “LEAD FREE*”. This perplexed me a great deal given that a few millimeters above this claim stood: “Ultra low lead”.

I tried to wrap my head around “LEAD FREE*” vs. “Ultra low lead”. How could something lead free have ultra low lead? On the back they described the asterisk in flowery, blooming English: “*AB 1953 compliant less than 0.2% lead.” Wouldn’t you love if everything was described this way? “Traffic ticket you drive too fast.” “Delicious food ate at fancy restaurant.” And so on…

Now having looked into the Assembly Bill a bit, it appears the powers that be are redefining the meaning of lead free. In other words, they are lowering the value considered lead free. After doing a little research, I found that the legal limit for lead in related products used to be 8%. To me, .2% doesn’t seem that low, and 8% seems incredibly high. Given all the really scary stuff written about lead (and I have a two-year-old, people!), I would kind of prefer lead free to mean 0% lead. Is it that hard to make a metal product that contains no lead?

To further my confusion, another, simpler model of aerator, also made by Neoperl, states “LEAD FREE*”, but not “Ultra low lead”. So, does this mean this one is pushing the 0.2% lead content?

Now, I know what you’re saying: “Dude, why didn’t you just buy an aerator from another company claiming 0% lead?” There were none. Home Depot (or “The Home Depot” as I think they like being called now) only had these in stock.

If anyone has a suggestion for eco-friendly aerators without any lead (no asterisk), feel free to comment. Even though they say “there is no safe level of lead”, I guess AB 1953 is a step in the right direction. If it were me, and I know this would probably cause minor economic mayhem or piss off the lead lobby, I would just take a hatchet to it and make lead free actually lead free. 0%. Done.

P.S. Please also comment if you have more RainSoft horror stories.

Filed under: Environment,Home Equipment,Safety

Esquire Needs A New Editor

      November 28th, 2009

EsquireEsquire is one of those expired frequent flyer miles magazines I get. (In other words, for free.)

I used to be mildly interested in Barry Sonnenfeld’s product reviews, though he’s been getting on my nerves lately.

Mr. Sonnenfeld’s latest case of product propaganda, “30 Holiday Gift Ideas for the Digital Man”, randomly features the Rockettes, and a pretty embarrassing typo. It’s hard to believe, but the typo remains on the Esquire website:

“And unlike many other portable speakers, Altec doesn’t overdo the base. The sound is bright and realistic.”

A tech review should not mispell “bass” as “base”. Am I wrong here?

Here is the link. Sorry, but you have to skip to slide 9. I wasn’t sure how to link it directly.

Filed under: Magazines