Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Service Please!

Many things we buy today are meant to be tossed rather than repaired but some of us just hate to toss out a gadget or appliance we paid good money for.

The biggest obstacle to making your own repairs, if you are already mechanical enough to attempts such, is finding a diagram or manual for the item.

Even the many pages of documentation that come with almost everything today is little help because of those 30 pages half are duplicates in another language, three pages are congratulations and safety warnings such as NOT A FOOD, DO NOT SWALLOW THE SUPPLIED NUTS AND BOLTS, or WARNING: USING THIS ELECTRICAL DEVICE WHILE IN A SWIMMING POOL USING AN EXTENSION CORD MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH.

Then there are the five pages of instructions and troubleshooting hints such as IF NOTHING SEEMS TO BE WORKING AT ALL, CHECK TO SEE IF YOU PLUGGED IT IN AND IF THERE IS POWER IN YOUR HOME.

What those manuals never include are really useful schematics or directions on where to pry to get it apart without damaging it.

But forget going to a dealer and buying all those lost directions and even schematics,search for them online and they are probably easy to find.

I already covered using YouTube for step by step directions, but this is different.

Forget YouTube for this, what you want are PDF copies of the original factory service manual and these are often available online for free.

Your Google search can, and in this case should, be narrowed down to just .PDF formats to eliminate the many useless suggestions you get with every search.

The place to start isn't the usual but instead use

This lets anyone use the very sophisticated advanced search techniques which I and others who were members of the certified expert Google Answers researchers commonly used to turn 1 million search hits into a handful of the most useful ones.

Professionals simply use various special symbols to narrow down the search to just what they are looking for instead of the usual search which can be done in plain language.

Plain language searches are great and are just what they sound like, you simply search for what you want in plain English (or other languages).

Advanced searches, on the other hand, rely on Boolean symbols and other tricks to make searches more specific.

An example?

Search for a Cub Cadet manual online using

cub cadet zero turn service manual

gets you 185,000 returns

Search using the advanced search page you can narrow the search to English, PDF only, and even USA (so you don't get a manual for the model sold elsewhere) or use another language and country to fit your needs.

the resulting search is:

cub cadet zero turn service manual filetype:pdf

Which doesn't seem like a big difference, but learning how to narrow searches is what turns online searching from a slot machine with random results, to a precise tool.

And, BTW, if you want to learn more about professional search techniques, check out one of my old sites

and you will learn such things as how even those "dead" links which appear because a site has been removed from the Internet, can be useful because old copies probably exist in the WayBack machine of

Every site on the Internet which doesn't specifically block such archiving will be saved periodically by the Archive back a decade or more.