Friday, August 13, 2010

Tech Levels and Difficulty

Each tutorial includes a tech level and a difficulty level. User levels describe who would be interested in the tutorial and difficulty levels describe how hard it is to actually accomplish the tutorial.

Tech Level:
1:I’m Total beginner. What is this “com-pu-tor” you speak of my good man?
2:I’ve never spoken into my mouse. Wait, which one is the mouse?
3:I’m an everyday computer user. I like stuff to just work.
4:I’ve like to make changes to my OS, upgrade my hardware myself, and probably write scripts and simple programs.
5:I’m a professional developer and/or 133t h4x0r. I’m looking over your bank statements now.

Difficulty Level:
1:Super easy. Like just changing a options settings. Concepts are as simple as it gets.
2:Easy. You might have to set a few options.
3:Neither hard nor easy. You'll have to do a little bit of thinking but it won't be too complex.
4:Moderately difficult. You'll definitely have to put your brain in gear and think about what we're saying.
5:Pro-level. You'll probably have to write some code and the concepts discussed will be fairly complex.

These two can be mixed in any combination. For instance a pro user can have a super easy tutorial and a new user can have a complex tutorial. As would be expected the difficulty level is scaled to the user so what might be hard for a new user would be easy for a pro user.

What the Heck is "i Help X u?"

What the heck is "i Help X u" you say?

Very simply it's a source for simple, easy to understand computer tutorials.

The problem with a lot of tutorials is they fail to understand their audience; the new user. By new user I don't mean someone who's never seen a computer before, though we cover topics for those users as well, I mean someone who is unfamiliar with the topic being discussed. In other words the people that are looking for tutorials.

Too often tutorials are written without regard to the new user. The person writing the tutorial, while well intentioned, is too deep into a subject so can't see what it looks like to an outsider.

Some of the common mistakes include:
  • Using abbreviations only a rocket surgeon would understand, "You need to use a BFG on the FNG because the MSG will TLA your SOB." WTF?
  • Mystery button pressing and navigation, "Hit the curdumple key then slide the graveldip to the flibby-flam position. It's right by the planfphingploogerminfunphillipsonmunburger." Do who with the what?
  • Failure to describe terms in an understandable way, "Oplex: An oplex is a dopple interface with sclatchel protocols used when flurrling." Sound dangerous to me.
  • Using a term to define the term, "Turing Complete: Anything a Turing machine can do." OK, what's a Turing machine? "Turing Machine: A machine that's Turing complete." Nice...
  • Showing things can be done but not how to do them, "You can use CSS to change the background color like this." Great, HOW do I do it?
  • Unclear goals, what exactly are you trying to teach me and what will I know how do do after this tutorial, and why do I want to do it?

i Help X u will strive to avoid those problems by using simple English to describe exactly what we are doing, how, and most importantly why. We won't assume you know were something is, we will always tell you exactly where a feature is, and will show you what buttons and/or keys to press.

Most importantly our tutorials are all screencasts.

A movie made of a person's computer monitor showing exactly what they are doing.

See how we did that? We'll define terms whenever we come across them.

That's pretty much it, hope you find our site useful.