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The Rather Clever Person's Guide to x

For the ignorant but not idiotic.
  (+33, -1)(+33, -1)(+33, -1)
(+33, -1)
  [vote for,
against]

The success of the 'For Dummies' and 'Complete Idiot's Guide' book serieses suggests they fill a valuable need in our society. But what about people who aren't complete idiots? Or even dummies? What if you want to learn about a particular subject quickly and easily, being fully aware that you are capable of learning quickly and easily?

This is where the Rather Clever Person's Guides come in.

They don't assume background knowledge about the subject, but they do assume high reading comprehension, ability to look up unfamiliar terms, good short-term memory, and willingness to deal with polysyllabic words. This allows them to be written much more densely than the average 'dummies' guide', covering more of a topic in a smaller space - about the size of a standard paperback, rather than textbook-size. Covers are in tasteful blue.

Suitable for airplane reading or keeping on your desk at work - you won't be ashamed to be seen with a Rather Clever Person's Guide, and it will still be useful as a reference work after you've read through it and gained an understanding of the topic.

gisho, Jun 03 2009

[link]






       I'd buy a copy. [+]
Gamma48, Jun 04 2009
  

       Computer programming is desperately in need of this kind of book. Right now, every "Learn Language X" book approaches teaching you to program *in that language* as if you're learning to program *in general*. I'd love to get my hands on a "This is just the stuff that's different about language X from other languages" book.
derefr, Jun 04 2009
  

       [derefr] This does exist for Computer languages - I've seen books like "Java for C++ Programmers".

Anyway, a good idea [+]
hippo, Jun 04 2009
  

       How would the RCPGs compare to a manual?
loonquawl, Jun 04 2009
  

       Except that Norton for dummies was too difficult for me.
zeno, Jun 04 2009
  

       I need one of these for Excel. I write a lot of macros, and the idiots guide only has one chapter and its not that in depth.   

       It also has a chapter on adding clip art to make your data more colourful...<shudder>
miasere, Jun 04 2009
  

       There's the O'Reilly "Animal" books, which I always found reasonably well edited, heavy on reference and without too much of the "Java is like a cake" type stuff (which has its place too)
zen_tom, Jun 04 2009
  

       Are we here at the bakery kind of assumed to be rather clever. or do we still belong in the other category, I wonder. I never thought of myself as "rather clever". However...
blissmiss, Jun 04 2009
  

       Relax, [blissmiss], 'bakers are plenty clever. In fact, many of them seem to be quite brilliant. (Brilliance is not required for these guides, however, only moderately high intellegence.)
gisho, Jun 04 2009
  

       //I'd love to get my hands on a "This is just the stuff that's different about language X from other languages" book.//   

       In my experience once you've learnt a few languages you're better off avoiding the "Learn language X" books altogether and just going straight for the language spec, most of which can be found online for free.
Wrongfellow, Jun 04 2009
  

       I'm with [z_t]. I like the O'Reilly books. I also quite like the Dummies books, even if they do have rather too much of "See! Wasn't that easy!" and not enough "Here's how you might approach problem x".   

       In fact I got so tired of books that teach programming languages but not how to approach programming that I just bought a general book on program design. Chapter 1 is excellent. I'll probably be totally baffled by chapter 3.
wagster, Jun 04 2009
  

       + for the rather clever author of this idea +
one smart bun
xandram, Jun 04 2009
  

       For greatest density, shouldn't the guide be translated into various technical disciplines--Nuclear Reactor Design for Orthodontists, for example? Since all idiots are cut from the same cloth, but rather clever people are clever in different ways.
ldischler, Jun 04 2009
  

       everyone is cleverly ignoring loonquawl's clever question as to how it compares to an ordinary manual. I think it is quite baked in manuals and text books as you have described it.   

       so being an idiot myself, I am going to vote -
dentworth, Jun 04 2009
  

       [dentworth], two reasons:   

       1) It would cover topics that weren't designed as tools. For example, a quick Amazon search reveals I could get a Complete Idiot's Guide to 'European History', 'the Bible', or 'Investing'. The Bible doesn't come with a manual. Doubtless there are many textbooks and commentaries out there that deal well with the topic, but they are likely to cater to a scholarly audience with lots of background knowledge.   

       2) Building on the above, ease-of-finding. When buying a textbook or general reference work, you have to expend considerable effort finding one that suits your level of understanding and is well-written. The series would have well-defined objectives and be written in a consistent style and format, making them easier to use than a randomly-chosen general reference work.
gisho, Jun 04 2009
  

       //how it compares to an ordinary manual//   

       Ordinary manuals are written in Chinese and translated into English.
ldischler, Jun 04 2009
  

       ..... by someone with a working knowledge of Japanese gardening techniques...
squeak, Jun 05 2009
  

       my vote stands
dentworth, Jun 05 2009
  

       "I can't believe it's not rocket science"
coprocephalous, Jun 05 2009
  

       The nice thing about this idea is that you only have to change the cover and name and ISBN, but certainly not the content...
4whom, Jun 05 2009
  

       //In my experience once you've learnt a few languages you're better off avoiding the "Learn language X" books altogether and just going straight for the language spec, most of which can be found online for free.//   

       I find that often to be true when dealing with embedded microcontrollers, but I wish there were handy guides to point out the things that one might not glean from the official documentation. E.g. the documentation says chip will allow reads within 50us of power-up, but requires a delay of 2ms before performing writes; the documentation doesn't say that while byte reads work 50us after power-up, block reads performed within the first 1.5ms of powerup will report success without actually reading any data.
supercat, Jun 05 2009
  

       [supercat] Yeah, but hardware and software are different. In hardware, if the chip doesn't do what the data sheet says it should, then the data sheet is wrong. But in software, if the implementation doesn't do what the spec says it should, then the implementation is wrong. :)
Wrongfellow, Jun 07 2009
  

       //But in software, if the implementation doesn't do what the spec says it should, then the implementation is wrong.//   

       Whichever one (software nor documentation) can be more easily changed is wrong. If neither can be changed, then the user is wrong if he is naive enough to expect things to actually work as described.
supercat, Jun 08 2009
  

       I forsee a series of elementary guides in subjects aimed at experienced practitioners of those subjects. These would be completely blank inside and would thus both affirm that you already know everything useful to know about the subject, and also fill you with a sort of inner peace as you appreciate the unity of learning and not-learning - e.g. "The Zen Guide to Rocket Science for experienced Rocket Scientists".
hippo, Jun 08 2009
  

       //Except that Norton for dummies was too difficult for me//

Strange that you should mention Norton. The original Norton Utilities manual was one of the best computing books that I've read. It didn't just tell you how to do stuff but clearly and (the horror!) simply explained the concepts behind it as well.
DrBob, Jun 08 2009
  

       baked: Wikipedia
sophocles, Jun 09 2009
  
      
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