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    Re: Navigation "simplified". was: Buckley the Navigator
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2008 Mar 09, 17:59 -0400

    Dan Allen, you wrote:
    "I have always shunned the "Dummies" series of books that are alas, very
    popular."
    
    Those gaudy yellow covers! And the words "for Dummies" in big, bold, black
    type!! Scary, aren't they? But you should open one up and have a look. Of
    the ones I've looked through, I've found that they are very well-written. A
    title in this series could as easily be "An Introductory Course in XYZ",
    e.g., instead of "XYZ for Dummies" (a title I haven't read), but the
    'Dummies' title serves a particular customer base --people who are
    comfortable admitting that they are beginners whenever they begin. Others
    worry about even being seen with one of those dreaded yellow volumes...
    
    There is one REALLY GOOD reason to consult well-written introductory books
    ("for Dummies" or otherwise). These days, many of us learn new skills
    "organically" outside a formal classroom course. For example, chances are
    very good that you've never taken a class in spreadsheet design, but equally
    likely, you're probably quite skilled at it. You picked it up as you went
    along (or actually, you probably wrote one of the earliest spreadsheets, but
    you see my point, I hope ). The only problem with organic learning is
    that it's sometimes possible to go on for years without picking up an
    important trick that "everybody knows". In the case of spreadsheet design,
    it's remarkably easy for people to spend years working with them without
    ever learning about 'absolute cell references'. You can't imagine how many
    times I've seen spreadsheets with an entire column of 1000 numbers set to
    some constant value. This is just the sort of thing that people miss when
    they learn by doing, and it's just the sort of thing where a beginner's
    textbook is the perfect cure.
    
    So yeah, maybe somebody should write "Celestial Navigation for Dummies". It
    probably wouldn't sell though. We should write "GPS Marine Navigation for
    Dummies" and then get sneaky and devote half the book to celestial. ;-)
    
     -FER
    
    
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