Please refer to the instructions that don’t exist


I bought myself a wireless mouse and was setting it up. Step 1: Insert the batteries. Check. Step 2: Position the receiver.

Make sure the distance between the mouse and receiver is within the wireless range specified on the packaging.

I wanted to put the receiver on the floor, off of my desk, so I had to make sure it would still be in range of the mouse on my desk. Let's look at the packaging.

Nope, no mention of the receiver range.

I guess this proves that nobody reads the installation instructions.

Comments (30)
  1. Nathan says:

    Isn’t that only for nit-pickers ? /rimshot

  2. dave says:

    Not only does no customer (except Raymond) read the instructions, but apparently the people that are responsible for the product don’t read their own instructions, either.

    The art of proof-reading is, sadly, dead.

    (Yes, I realize that the packaging could have been changed after the instruction booklet had passed QA. The process is still broken).

  3. El Guapo says:

    Since you did not specify a nitpicker’s corner…

    If you found out that the floor position was out of range, would you not have tried it anyway?

    So why didn’t you just try it? How long did you spend searching the packaging vs. just trying it?

    [Oh great, once again, an article without a nitpicker’s corner and people treat this as encouragement to nitpick. I hate nitpicker’s corner. I wish I didn’t need one. As for the question: I leave this as an exercise. (Hint: Battery life.) -Raymond]
  4. Rob says:

    “I hate nitpicker’s corner”

    Shouldn’t it be nitpickers’ corner?

    [No -Raymond]
  5. Rick C says:

    Just how short was the battery life on that mouse?  Mine usually last a few months!

    Just kidding, Raymond.

    [I bet you keep your receiver in range. -Raymond]
  6. Dan says:

    Wow, people are being annoying today.  You should just not do nitpicker’s for a week as a form of protest against them.  If only those who were smart enough to spot the ‘flaws’ in your article were smart enough to know when it was worth bringing up or not.

  7. Thomas says:

    There’s <a href="http://worsethanfailure.com/Articles/Symbolic_Installation.aspx">a wonderful example</a> over on Worse Than Failure (formerly The Daily WTF) of people not so much not reading the instructions as not even looking at them.

    A rough summary is that one group was working on a piece of software, and had created instructions that if followed to the letter would work perfectly. Another group was continually having problems with the deployment of the software, and the only possible reason for their problems was that they must have not been following the instructions. After a while, the big boss gets wind of this, and calls both departments in to find out what’s going on. The second group waves a piece of paper covered in wingdings, complaining that that’s what they’ve been given for instructions. The boss turns to chew out the first group, and one of the developers points out he’s been sending the instructions in the Wingdings font for quite a while.

  8. Cooney says:

    [No -Raymond]

    Thomas:

    A rough summary is that one group was working on a piece of software, and had created instructions that if followed to the letter would work perfectly. Another group was continually having problems with the deployment of the software, and the only possible reason for their problems was that they must have not been following the instructions. After a while, the big boss gets wind of this, and calls both departments in to find out what’s going on. The second group waves a piece of paper covered in wingdings, complaining that that’s what they’ve been given for instructions. The boss turns to chew out the first group, and one of the developers points out he’s been sending the instructions in the Wingdings font for quite a while.

    The relevant part here is that the first group was a bunch of devs who weren’t allowed to deploy to production, while the second group was the admins who deployed to prod. The admins had been bitching about how the deploys didn’t work, and the devs were utterly convinced that the admins just went and did their own thing.

  9. Mikkin says:

    Why should the instructions be integrated and self-contained?  The problem lies in the disconnected components of the product, which could be obviated by providing a permanently affixed cable between the mouse and the receiver to ensure they are never out of range.  Oh, wait….

  10. mike says:

    the real problem is that you didn’t buy a wireless mouse that is rechargeable. if you had it’d be appropriate for it to sit on the desk and ALSO save power and provide a convenient place to put your mouse when don’t want to use it :)

  11. Ben says:

    No worries…those things are so dang heavy (due to the 2 AA batteries inside) that you’ll get rid of it sooner than later.

    I have tried using a wireless mouse twice in my life, both times resulted in aching mouse hand.

    [Aha, you didn’t read the instructions. Even though there are two battery compartments, the instructions say to use only one AA battery. -Raymond]
  12. "I have tried using a wireless mouse twice in my life, both times resulted in aching mouse hand."

    That was a joke… right?

  13. Michael says:

    The last wireless mouse I bought had specific instructions not to put any electronic equipment near the mouse or the receiver.

  14. Nobody says:

    I guess this proves that nobody reads the

    installation instructions.

    It proves no such thing.  You read the installation instructions.  I didn’t.

    (I’m the one who reads comments on your blog, as you kindly acknowledged in a previous posting.)

  15. I can beat that. One particular company (*cough* name deleted *cough*) shipped a mouse with software that automatically ran the mouse software downloader/updater every time you log on to Windows. And you guessed it: it required administrator. So EVERY SINGLE TIME you start Windows on limited user you’d get a message box like “This operation requires administrator. Please retry this operation as administrator.”

    I suggested, in all seriousness, that they fire the entirety of their QA department. It’s just mind-boggling that they shipped a product without EVEN ONCE trying it on non-administrator (as one single attempt would have made the problem obvious).

  16. El Guapo says:

    Not to beat a dead nitpick or anything, but wouldn’t you have investigated the range *before* making a purchase?

    [I would have accepted putting the receiver on the desk. I would have preferred putting it on the floor. I can’t believe I have to explain this. -Raymond]
  17. Maurits says:

    > No -Raymond

    This is the sort of nonsense up with which I shall not put.

    Just because the dictionary gets it wrong* and Lands’ End gets it wrong is no excuse.  It’s "nitpickers’ corner" and if that makes me a nitpicker then so be it.

    * Note that the dictionary entry and the sample sentence put the apostrophe in different places.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/lover%27s%20lane

  18. Puckdropper says:

    Instructions that don’t exist are almost as bad as instructions that are wrong.  We had a lawn mower that the instructions stated you needed to press the primer button 3 times before starting a cold engine.  The mower always flooded, and you had to clear that gas out before it’d start.  Ignore the instructions and just pull the handle and it started on the first pull.

  19. ender says:

    [No worries…those things are so dang heavy (due to the 2 AA batteries inside) that you’ll get rid of it sooner than later.]

    That’s one of the things I like about wireless mice – they’re heavy, even more so with rechargeable batteries.  I was always ending up sticking coins in my wired mice because they were too light.

    Back to the topic of instructions, the law in my country requires that they’re translated. Unfortunately, it doesn’t specify how it must be translated, resulting in "instructions" that are no more than a jumble of words the automatic translator picked up from the dictionary (although the results are often hillarious). Then again, I hear we’re not the only ones with this problem.

  20. Stephen Jones says:

    —–"I hate nitpicker’s corner"

    Shouldn’t it be nitpickers’ corner?

    [No -Raymond]——

    Presumably because there’s only one nitpicker, and that’s Raymond, and it’s his corner.

  21. Cody says:

    Re:  Mouse weight.  I have two wireless mice, one of which was cheap and heavy and I love the feel of (though dislike the response) and one that is expensive and light and I would prefer it were heavier though the response is perfect.

    I would imagine it’s very much up to personal preference.

  22. I never even noticed there was a difference in weight between wired and wireless mice, and I just can’t bring myself to consider 2 AA batteries heavy. Maybe that’s because my car has a manual transmission and no power steering…

  23. Daniel Colascione says:

    Thanks for writing! I appreciate these articles.

  24. Eric Harris says:

    [Aha, you didn’t read the instructions. Even though there are two battery compartments, the instructions say to use only one AA battery. -Raymond]

    My wireless mouse indeed “supports” two AA batteries in the compartment.  However, after your suggestion that only one would work, I tried it for fun.  Shockingly, it works fine with just a single battery.  I checked the instructions, which I followed originally, and it says, “The mouse requires two batteries, which are included in the package.”

    (Long time reader, first time responding.  Keep up the excellent work, I enjoy your content very much!)

    [Well, mine needs only one battery despite having two compartments. I thought maybe yours did too and you just missed it. Good luck with your new lighter-weight mouse! -Raymond]
  25. Dean Harding says:

    Shockingly, it works fine with just a single battery.

    It depends how they’re wired in. In this case, they’d be wired in parallel and so the device still works with only one battery — you get the same voltage, just less power (and hence less range). If you put two batteries in, you’d get a longer range.

  26. JG says:

    Wouldn’t you get the same range, but half the battery life?

    You have the same voltage, presumabley the mouse draws the same current if there are 1 or 2 batteries there.

  27. IanA says:

    Wouldn’t you get the same range, but half the >battery life?

    You have the same voltage, presumabley the >mouse draws the same current if there are 1 or >2 batteries there.

    I think this will depend on the internal resistance of the battery. It is conceivable that 2 batteries will maintain a higher voltage (under load – with no load the voltage will be the same) and therefore give better performance.

  28. After trying various setups I prefer to have the receiver as close to my mouse as possible.  I love my latest one, comes with this really tiny receiver that you can remove from the battery charger.

    It’s currently plugged into a USB port on my keyboard mere inches from the mouse.

  29. Nawak says:

    I recently bought a Microsoft Keyboard+Mouse and my criteria was the range (because I want to use them on a media-PC, which is 2 or 3 meters away from my couch). I found that the only way to be sure that it will correctly work, was to buy  bluetooth keyboard and mouse (10 meters range). Those RF transmitter never works that far away and they are heavily disturbed by the concealing you may want to do on the PC/receiver…

  30. wired says:

    The reason I don’t use battery powered mices is that they leak, and battery acid damaged my desk. I really should file a complaint to the mouse manufacturer but all I can do is to whine at some random employees blog.

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