High Tech Skills

A young engineer was leaving the office at 6 p.m. when he found the CEO standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in his hand.
"Listen," said the CEO, "this is important, and my secretary has left. Can you make this thing work?"
"Certainly," said the young engineer with confidence. He turned the machine on, inserted the paper, and pressed the start button.
"Excellent, excellent!" said the CEO as his paper disappeared inside the machine. "I just need one copy.


You must first remove the plastic cover. By doing so you agree to accept and honor Microsoft rights to all TV dinners. You may not give anyone else a bite of your dinner (which would constitute an infringement of Microsoft's rights). You may, however, let others smell and look at your dinner and are encouraged to tell them how good it is.
If you have a PC microwave oven, insert the dinner into the oven. Set the oven using these keystrokes: <<\mstv.dinn.//08.5min@50%heat//. Then enter: ms//start.cook_dindin/yummy\|/yum~yum:-)gohot#cookme.
If you have a Mac oven, insert the dinner and press start. The oven will set itself and cook the dinner.
If you have a Unix oven, insert the dinner, enter the ingredients of the dinner (found on the package label), the weight of the dinner, and the desired level of cooking and press start. The oven will calculate the time and heat and cook the dinner exactly to your specification.
Be forewarned that Microsoft dinners may crash, in which case your oven must be restarted. This is a simple procedure. Remove the dinner from the oven and enter <Many users have reported that the dinner tray is far too big, larger than the dinner itself, having many useless compartments, most of which are empty. These are for future menu items. If the tray is too large to fit in your oven you will need to upgrade your equipment.
Dinners are only available from registered outlets, and only the chicken variety is currently produced. If you want another variety, call MicrosoftHelp and they will explain that you really don't want another variety. Microsoft Chicken is all you really need.
Microsoft has disclosed plans to discontinue all smaller versions of their chicken dinners. Future releases will only be in the larger family size. Excess chicken may be stored for future use, but must be saved only in Microsoft approved packaging.
Microsoft promises a dessert with every dinner after '98. However, that version has yet to be released. Users have permission to get thrilled in advance.
Microsoft dinners may be incompatible with other dinners in the freezer, causing your freezer to self-defrost. This is a feature, not a bug. Your freezer probably should have been defrosted anyway.

Here is a pretty funny help desk log if you are into these kinds of things. Monday 8:05am: User called to say they forgot password. Told them to use password retrieval utility called FDISK. Blissfully ignorant, they thank me and hang up. God, we let the people vote and drive, too? 8:12am: Accounting called to say they couldn't access expense reports database. Gave them Standard Sys Admin Answer #112, "Well, it works for me." Let them rant and rave while I unplugged my coffeemaker from the UPS and plugged their server back in. Suggested they try it again. One more happy customer. 8:14 am: User from 8:05 call said they received error message "Error accessing Drive 0." Told them it was an OS problem. Transferred them to microsupport. 11:00 am: Relatively quiet for last few hours. Decide to plug support phone back in so I can call my girlfriend. Says parents are coming into town this weekend. Put her on hold and transferred her to janitorial closet down in basement. What is she thinking? The "Myst" and "Doom" nationals are this weekend! 11:34 am: Another user calls (do they ever learn?). Says they want ACL changed on HR performance review database so that nobody but HR can access database. Tell them no problem. Hang up. Change ACL. Add @MailSend so performance reviews are sent to */US. 12:00 pm: Lunch 3:30 pm: Return from lunch. 3:55 pm: Wake up from nap. Bad dream makes me cranky. Bounce servers for no reason. Return to napping. 4:23 pm: Yet another user calls. Wants to know how to change fonts on form. Ask them what chip set they're using. Tell them to call back when they find out. 4:55 pm: Decide to run "Create Save/Replication Conflicts" macro so next shift has something to do. Tuesday 8:30 am: Finish reading support log from last night. Sounded busy. Terrible time with Save/Replication conflicts. 9:00 am: Support manager arrives. Wants to discuss my attitude. Click on PhoneNotes SmartIcon. "Love to, but kinda busy. Put something in the calendar database!" I yell as I grab for the support lines, which have (mysteriously) lit up. Walks away grumbling. 9:35 pm: Team leader from R&D needs ID for new employee. Tell them they need form J-19R=9C9\\DARR\K1. Say they never heard of such a form. Tell them it's in the SPECIAL FORMS database. Say they never heard of such a database. Transfer them to janitorial closet in basement. 10:00 am: Perky sounding intern from R&D calls and says she needs new ID. Tell her I need employee number, department name, manager name, and marital status. Run @DbLookup against state parole board database, Centers for Disease Control database, and my Oprah Winfrey database. No hits. Tell her ID will be ready tonight. Drawing from the lessons learned in last week's "Reengineering for Customer Partnership," I offer to personally deliver ID to her apartment. 10:07 am: Janitor stops by to say he keeps getting strange calls in basement. Offer to train him on Notes. Begin now. Let him watch console while I grab a smoke. 1:00 pm: Return from smoking break. Janitor says phones kept ringing, so he transferred them to cafeteria lady. I like this guy. 1:05 pm: Big commotion! Support manager falls in hole left where I pulled floor tiles outside his office door. Stress to him importance of not running in computer room, even if I do yell "Omigod -- Fire!" 1:15 pm: Development Standards Committee calls and complains about umlauts in form names. Apologizing for the inconvenience, I tell them I will fix it. Hang up and run global search/replace using gaks. 1:20 pm: Mary Hairnet from cafeteria calls. Says she keeps getting calls for "Notice Loads" or "NoLoad Goats," she's not sure, couldn't hear over industrial-grade blender. Tell her it was probably "Lettuce Nodes." Maybe the food distributor with a new product? She thinks about it and hangs up. 2:00 pm: Legal secretary calls and says she lost password. Ask her to check in her purse, floor of car, and on bathroom counter. Tell her it probably fell out of back of machine. Suggest she put duct tape over all the airvents she can find on the PC. Grudgingly offer to create new ID for her while she does that. 2:49 pm: Janitor comes back. Wants more lessons. I take off rest of day. Wednesday 8:30 am: Irate user calls to say chipset has nothing to do with fonts on form. Tell them of course, they should have been checking "Bitset," not "chipset." Sheepish user apologizes and hangs up. 9:10am: Support manager, with foot in cast, returns to office. Schedules 10:00am meeting with me. User calls and wants to talk to support manager about terrible help at support desk. Tell them manager about to go into meeting. Sometimes life hands you material... 10:00 am: Call Louie in janitorial services to cover for me. Go to support manager's office. He says he can't dismiss me but can suggest several lateral career moves. Most involve farm implements in third-world countries with moderate to heavy political turmoil. By and by, I ask if he's aware of new bug which takes full-text indexed random e-mail databases and puts all references to furry handcuffs and Bambi Boomer in Marketing on the corporate Web page. Meeting is adjourned as he reaches for keyboard, Web browser, and Tums. 10:30 am: Tell Louie he's doing great job. Offer to show him mainframe corporate PBX system sometime. 11:00 am: Lunch. 4:55 pm: Return from lunch. 5:00 pm: Shift change; Going home. Thursday 8:00 am: New guy ("Marvin") started today. "Nice plaids" I offer. Show him server room, wiring closet, and technical library. Set him up with IBM PC-XT. Tell him to quit whining, Notes runs the same in both monochrome and color. 8:45 am: New guy's PC finishes booting up. Tell him I'll create new ID for him. Set minimum password length to 64. Go grab smoke. 9:30 am: Introduce Louie the custodian to Marvin. "Nice plaids" Louie comments. Is this guy great or what?! 11:00 am: Beat Louie in dominos game. Louie leaves. Fish spare dominos out of sleeves ("Always have backups"). User calls, says Accounting server is down. Untie Ethernet cable from radio antenna (better reception) and plug back into hub. Tell user to try again. Another happy customer! 11:55 am: Brief Marvin on Corporate Policy 98.022.01: "Whereas all new employee beginning on days ending in 'Y' shall enjoy all proper aspects with said corporation, said employee is obligated to provide sustenance and relief to senior technical analyst on shift." Marvin doubts. I point to "Corporate Policy" database (a fine piece of work, if I say so myself!). "Remember, that's DOUBLE pepperoni and NO peppers!" I yell to Marvin as he steps over open floor tile to get to exit door. 1:00 pm: Oooooh! Pizza makes me so sleepy... 4:30 pm: Wake from refreshing nap. Catch Marvin scanning want ads. 5:00 pm: Shift change. Flick HR's server off and on several times (just testing the On/Off button...). See ya tomorrow. Friday 8:00 am: Night shift still trying to replace power supply in HR server. Told them it worked fine before I left. 9:00 am: Marvin still not here. Decide I might start answering these calls myself. Unforward phones from Mailroom. 9:02 am: Yep. A user call. Users in Des Moines can't replicate. Me and the Oiuji board determine it's sunspots. Tell them to call Telecommunications. 9:30 am: Good God, another user! They're like ants. Says he's in San Diego and can't replicate with Des Moines. Tell him it's sunspots, but with a two-hour difference. Suggest he reset the time on the server back two hours. 10:17 am: Pensacola calls. Says they can't route mail to San Diego. Tell them to set server ahead three hours. 11:00 am: E-mail from corporate says for everybody to quit resetting the time on their servers. I change the date stamp and forward it to Milwaukee. 11:20 am: Finish @CoffeeMake macro. Put phone back on hook. 11:23 am: Milwaukee calls, asks what day it is. 11:25 am: Support manager stops by to say Marvin called in to quit. "So hard to get good help..." I respond. Support manager says he has appointment with orthopedic doctor this afternoon, and asks if I mind sitting in on the weekly department head meeting for him. "No problem!" 11:30 am: Call Louie and tell him opportunity knocks and he's invited to a meeting this afternoon. "Yeah, sure. You can bring your snuff" I tell him. 12:00 am: Lunch. 1:00 pm: Start full backups on UNIX server. Route them to device NULL to make them fast. 1:03 pm: Full weekly backups done. Man, I love modern technology! 2:30 pm: Look in support manager's contact management database. Cancel 2:45 pm appointment for him. He really should be at home resting, you know. 2:39 pm: New user calls. Says want to learn how to create a connection document. Tell them to run connection document utility CTRL-ALT-DEL. Says PC rebooted. Tell them to call microsupport. 2:50 pm: Support manager calls to say mixup at doctor's office means appointment cancelled. Says he's just going to go on home. Ask him if he's seen corporate Web page lately. 3:00 pm: Another (novice) user calls. Says periodic macro not working. Suggest they place @DeleteDocument at end of formula. Promise to send them document addendum which says so. 4:00 pm: Finish changing foreground color in all documents to white. Also set point size to "2" in help databases. 4:30 pm: User calls to say they can't see anything in documents. Tell them to go to view, do a "Edit -- Select All", hit delete key, and then refresh. Promise to send them document addendum which says so. 4:45 pm: Another user calls. Says they can't read help documents. Tell them I'll fix it. Hang up. Change font to Wingdings. 4:58 pm: Plug coffee maker into Ethernet hub to see what happens. Not (too) much. 5:00 pm: Night shift shows up. Tell that the hub is acting funny and to have a good weekend.

~~NEW COMPUTING TAROT~~ 0. The FOOL: a manager using a SPARCStation 413/1432 to run a screensaver. 1. The MAGICIAN: a hacker with a Mac, a Pentium box, a Sparc, and a Cray on the table in front of him --- all running the same program with the same GUI. An infinity sign is over his head. 2. The HIGH PRIESTESS: a woman holding the Documentation, closed and concealed. The crescent moon is showing on an Indigo behind her. 3. The EMPEROR: Steve Jobs sitting on a NeXT cube, holding an optical disk vertically in his hand. 4. The EMPRESS: A secretary with a NeXT Machine. 5. The HEIROPHANT: Bill Gates with two flunkies kneeling before him, their faces averted, offering him floppy disks. He wears a laptop computer on his head. 6. The LOVERS: a PowerMAC and an IBM Power PC exchanging software as an angel bathed in glory regards them. 7. The CHARIOT: A man in a chariot, hurtling up an exponential curve, drawn by the twin sphinxes of Technology (black) and Culture (white). 8. STRENGTH: A woman holding the entire design and implementation of Microsoft Excel in her mind as she corrects the final error. An infinity sign is over her head. 9. The HERMIT: An old hacker, white-bearded, burns the midnight oil; its Star-of-David flame illuminates his keyboard. 10. The WHEEL OF FORTUNE: A rotating wheel. Cray is on the side going down, despite its good technology; Smalltalk is opposite it, and C++ is sitting on top. Four winged beings -- a mouse, a turtle, a dog-cow, and a human -- look on. 11. JUSTICE: A cold-faced woman holds a calculator in one hand and a delete-key in the other. 12. The HANGED MAN: A programmer is tied by his ankle to a cable duct. His phase is completely shifted: he awakens at sunset, he sleeps at dawn. His monitor is reverse-video. He programs on, flawlessly, oblivious to his circumstances. 13. DEATH: A skeleton wielding a scythe surveys a field, on which are scattered PDP-11s, Apple ]['s, IBM 360/91's, Xerox Alto's, and many other machines. 14. TEMPERANCE: An angel stands with one foot on her chair and one on the floor, as she copies files from one disk to another. A cursor blinks from her chest. 15. The DEVIL: The goat-headed Lord of the Pit stands on a pile of Windows manuals, holding an inverted torch in one hand. Two humans, male and female, are in chains at his feet. 16. The TOWER: An ivory tower is struck by a bolt of lightning. Two robed figures, denied tenure, are hurled to the ground. 17. The STAR: A Mac is running its `warp' screen saver, in a transient fragile moment of peace. 18. The MOON: A wolf and a jackal are typing at two PC's. A crayfish crawls out of a pool, offering suggestions that may ultimately prove deadly. The moon shines through a window. 19. The SUN: A naked child riding a winged rocking horse programs clever applications on a high-quality workstation. 20. JUDGMENT: An angel blows a trumpet; all over the net, web pages arise, to be rated Cool or Not. 21. The WORLD: A woman dances on the clouds, unclothed, unencumbered, in a ring of clouds, a 3-d mouse in each hand. The four winged beings from the Wheel of Fortune surround her.

How to be a Pest by Modem* Here's how to be a pest-by-modem:

  • *Make up fake acronyms. On-line veterans like to use abbreviations like IMHO (in my humble opinion) and RTFM (read the f...... manual) to show that they're "hep" to the lingo. Make up your own that don't stand for anything (SETO, BARL, CP30), use them liberally, and then refuse to explain what they stand for ("You don't know? RTFM").
  • When replying to your mail, correct everyone's grammar and spelling and point out their typos, but don't otherwise respond to the content of their messages. When they respond testily to your 'creative criticism," do it again. Continue until they go away.
  • Software and files offered on-line are often "compressed" so that it won't take so long to travel over the phone lines. Buy a compression program and compress everything you send, including one-word E-mail responses like "Thanks."
  • Upload text files with Bible passages about sin or guilt and give them names like "SexyHouseWives," then see how many people download them. Challenge your friends to come up with the most popular come-on. Take bets and calculate odds on the results of each upload's popularity.
  • cc: all your E-mail to Al Gore (vice.president@whitehouse.gov) so that he can keep track of what's happening on the information Superhighway Internet.
  • Join a discussion group, and tie whatever's being discussed back to an unrelated central theme of your own. For instance, if you're in a discussion of gun control, respond to every message with the observation that those genetically superior tomatoes seem to have played an important role. Within days, all discussion of gun control will have ceased as people write you threatening messages and instruct all other members to ignore you.

    If Dr. Seuss were a Technical Writer Here's an easy game to play. Here's an easy thing to say. If a packet hits a pocket on a socket on a port, And the bus is interrupted as a very last resort. And the address of the memory makes your floppy disk abort, Then the socket packet pocket has an error to report! If your cursor finds a menu item followed by a dash, And the double-clicking icon puts your window in the trash, And your data is corrupted 'cause the index doesn't hash. Then your siutation's hopeless and your system's gonna crash! You can't say this? What a shame, sir! We'll find you another game, sir! If the label on the cable on the table at your house Says the network is connected to the button on the mouse, But your packets want to tunnel on another protocol, That's repeatedly rejected by the printer down the hall, And your screen is all distorted by the side affects of Gauss, So your icons in the windows are so wavy as a souse, Then you may as well reboot and go out with a bang, 'Cause as sure as I'm a poet, the sucker's gonna hang! When the copy of your floppy's getting sloppy on the disk, And the microcode instructions cause unnecessary RISC. Then you have to flash your memory and you'll want to RAM your ROM. Quickly turn off the computer and be sure to tell your mom!