The Power User's Guide to Power Users
THE POWER USER'S GUIDE TO POWER USERS
Power Users never read their software manuals; instead they get
petty cash from their secretaries and use it to buy books which
contain the phrase "Power User" on the cover. They then keep the
receipt, to claim against tax.
Software manufacturers write their manuals badly, and in computerese,
in order to con Power Users into buying the manual ("XYZ for the
Power User!") a second time. This extra revenue compensates the
manufacturers somewhat for all the people who pirate their software
and then buy Power User Guides to replace the manuals they never
Power Users never read their "Power User's Guide to ..." books,
for the same reason they didn't read the software manuals in the
first place. They do however skim the first two chapters, in which
they make copious annotations (e.g. underlining phrases like "to get
a directory listing, type 'DIR C: '. Note do not type the
word '', or the quotes.")
Power Users get their companies to buy them 130MHz 80586 PS/4s with
100MB RAM and 5-gigabyte optical drives, which they bring home:
- to run Lotus 1-2-3G spreadsheets, producing PostScript graphs
of their mortgage repayments;
- to DTP stern memos forbidding their Real Programmers from using
unregistered shareware and PD utilities at work. For this task,
they get their computer upgraded with a 4096x4096, 12 billion colour
hyper-VGA video display, and the memo employs a minimum of seven
different fonts, plus bolding and italics, with at least five
revisions to correct spelling errors, and to order the Cc: list
in the most politically acceptable manner), and
- to play pirate copies of Tetris and PC-Golf which they haven't
realised are infected with a virus.
Power Users scold their children for referring to their machines as
personal computers. "It's NOT a PC, Jimmy, it's my Professional
Workstation, No Intergalactic Space Zombies for you tonight! Now, go
to your room!"
Power Users get an identically equipped PC at work, so they can do
the work they would do at home, if only ten-year-old Jimmy would stop
playing Intergalactic Space Zombies for five consecutive minutes. The
money for this PC comes out of the Real Programmers' software tools
budget for the next three years.
Having worked out their mortagage repayments for the next 100 years,
and having failed consistently to beat ten-year old Jimmy at
Intergalactic Space Zombies, Power Users never touch their computers
again; at work, they keep themselves occupied in meetings, so nobody
will see them staring blankly at their PC screen. Meanwhile, the Real
Programmers who work for them struggle by with aging IBM PCs (the
originals ones, with a grudgingly-added Tallgrass disk drives -
Rather than read their "Real Users Guide to..." books, Power Users
turn to their ten-year-old kids for technical advice ("yes, Jimmy,
I understand that, but how do I get the directory on the _D_ drive?")
Power Users get frustrated when they press the 'Print Screen' key and
nothing happens: they thump it a dozen times before realising they've
left the printer off-line.
Power Users sneak their children in outside office hours to work out
why their spreadsheet figures don't add up and the Chairman's end-of-
quarter report is due tomorrow.
In a strange twist of human psychology, the ten-year-old children of
Power Users think that when they grow up, they'll become Real
Programmers and make shit loads of money writing a game better than
Intergalactic Space Zombies. (Sadly, they end up chugging out
accounting software for Power Users.)
Power Users could master any PC application, if only they could figure
out how to start it ("Uhhhm, it must be on this menu somewhere..".)
Power Users attend innumerable Power User courses, where they get a
set of loose-leaf binders of notes they never read (but whose titles
in genuine imitation gold leaf look impressive beside the "Power
User's Guide to..." books which now accumulate a thick layer of dust
on the shelf). They also drink a lot, and commiserate with each other
how their Real Programmer subordinates are a bunch of overpaid,
long-haired layabouts who can't be coerced into wearing shirts and
ties, never mind a suit; and of course to swap Power Techniques like
how to format a 360k disk in a 1.2MB drive and thus get more than 360k
of data onto it ("I'll have my secretary call IBM Technical Support
about all the bad sector things I'm getting on this disk.")
Power Users carry a pocket calculator for working out the cell values
in their Lotus spreadsheets ("Um, I guess I didn't get to the section
on formulas yet in my 'Power Users Guide to Lotus 1-2-3'".)
Power Users think "Your computer is stoned" is part of the DOS copyright
The ten-year-old children Power Users mischievously stick pieces of
cheese into every crevice of their parent's mouse, not realising that
this causes testicular problems later in life (for the MOUSE, twit!).
Power Users don't think that last joke was funny.
Power Users get their secretaries to call IBM Technical Support to fix
their defective mouse, because they're too embarassed to asked any of
their Real Programmer subordinates how to open it to remove the cheese.
When nobody is looking, Power Users pretend their mouse is a toy car,
and race it around the desk.
Power Users keep a large box of tissues on their desk to wipe the
saliva off the screen after playing Test Drive (BRRRRRM! BRRRRRM!)
Power Users can't figure out how to make their modems stop auto-answering,
so they alway lunge on their phone when it rings in an effort to beat it.
They're never fast enough, and spend the first 30 seconds of the
conversation apologising, while the modem auto-ranges, and they
earnestly promise that they'll have their secretary call IBM Technical
Support to have the problem rectified.
Power Users panic when they lose those dumb keyboard templates that
come with programs like Turd Perfect (which are too brain-dead to have
a decent user interface). They invariably mix up the templates when
switching between programs.
Power Users have problems with Windows, when they have two or more
applications running, but room for only one keyboard template.
Power Users buy those dumb mice that have a nearly full ASCII keyboard
built-in to them ("Swiss Army Mouse (tm)").
Power Users believe computer salesmen.
Power Users will buy ANY program that makes wild promises on the box
about increasing productivity. These boxes always look impressive on
the bookshelf, beside the "Power User" books and course notes.
Power Users use MicroJerk ProjectMeister to schedule their wife's
pregnancy, and get confused when they can't work out how to assign
tasks and set milestones. They try to persuade the obstetrician to
induce labour when she's late.
Power Users unreservedly believe their MicroJerk ProjectMeister when
it says the project will be complete at 5pm on the last Friday in
September next year, but eighteen months later, they won't believe the
Real Programmer who says it'll be done "Real Soon Now (tm)".
Power Users believe the ads for 4GLs and Application Generator
packages, and think that in two weeks they'll be able to fire all
their Real Programmers. (Ha ha ha... remember "The Last One"?)
-Richard Murnane (email@example.com)