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 had…

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: <enter>’. Note: do not type the word ‘<enter>’, 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—yuck!)

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 banner.

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 into them (“Swiss Army Mouse ™”).

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 ™.”

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”?)

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