Nokia N90: The missing manual – Day 1, part 3 21:32 on Tuesday

This is part three of the experiences I had on my first day with a Nokia N90. Please see also parts one and two.

Getting used to a Series 60 phone is not easy. I believe the right word for someone with no interest in bleeding edge technology could be daunting. Despite being a closet-gizmo-lover, after three months there are still things I know I can do, have done before, but can’t remember or find out how to repeat.

These moments of sudden amnesia in mind, it was nice to find a searchable manual accessible right within the applications of my N90. Nice indeed, until it turned out the search rarely finds anything even remotely useful. And you have to suffer a progress bar while waiting for the inadequate search results.

Luckily the search functionality is not often needed as the built-in help is context sensitive when invoked from an application. Open Help from within the Gallery app, and you land on Gallery Help. Open Help from Address Book and Address Book Help you shall get. Unfortunately that’s just how far the context sensitivity goes. For example, opening the help page from within the Connection Manager application instructs me to select Menu > Connect. > Connection Manager. Well, there is no menu item called Connect.. You know why? Because I’m inside the Connection Manager already but the help assumes I’m on the initial standby mode screen.

If I’ve customized the menus (which—by the way—is a Very Bad Idea™) and moved the Connection Manager to another folder, the help is even more off. My Connection Manager could reside under the Menu > Extras > Boring Tech Stuff folder, and the help would have been rendered useless, even starting from the standby screen.

The N90 help system doesn’t do much better on actual help content. There might be some obscure, verbose and irrelevant wording included, but mostly the help only states the obvious. “The Dial menu item lets you dial a number”. Oh really.

Conclusion, in a useful two point checklist format:

  1. If there is a product manual, it should be useful.
  2. If the manual instructs how a feature works, the feature should actually work that way.

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