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March 16, 2016

Let Me Google That For You

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

I don’t know everything. How could I? I only know what to look for and how to look. Such skills aren’t really that difficult to acquire, but yet most people rely upon others to solve their problems without even making the attempt themselves.

Back in the old days, the acronym was RTM. It stood for Read The Manual. Often times, annoyed nerd would add an F to the acronym, for RTFM. You can guess what the F stood for.

RTM was a rude reply to a simple question. I’m sure the computer nerds who used it could produce the answer if they had the will. The problem was a lack of respect for whoever was asking the question. It was far easier to blow off an innocent computer newbie with “RTM” than to say, “Press the F4 key to turn off the warning.”

This arrogant attitude prompted me to write DOS For Dummies. I referred to the lot of the RTM nerds as the Programmer Priesthood. Like any good priesthood, they conceal the divine knowledge in order to maintain their power. Sure, if you sucked up to them, you would get the answer. Otherwise, you heard, “RTFM.”

Manuals still exist, just not in print. I believe they worked better in print, but I’d never convince a corporate bean-counter to print manuals again. Instead, documentation is offered online. Some of it is good, but most of it is just horrid, and made even more so because it’s presented out-of-context.

The alternative to using the online help is to scour the Internet. Everyone’s favorite tool is Google’s search engine.

When you search for an answer to a problem, you typically encounter two types of sources. The first are various user forums, where a user asks a question or poses a problem. Hopefully, a valid answer lurks somewhere in the responses. The second source is the support offered by the developer, which remains cryptic as the original manual and may not address the exact issue: People who write manuals don’t phrase issues the way that users do.

The problem is that a lot of newbies, or just lazy people, don’t use Google to search the forums or online documentation for an answer. Instead, they ask their friends or post their query in an irrelevant online form. The arrogant jerks of yore, who responded with “RTM” in the old days, now reply with “Let me Google that for you,” which is their rude way of saying, “Look it up yourself; I don’t have the time.”

I would never give that reply to anyone. Even if I must use Google to find an answer, I provide my readers with my interpretation of the answer along with a link to another source. But I must say, it’s kind of odd that Google has been around for so long, yet too many people don’t recognize the resource of posing their problem as a question in Google’s search engine. Will that ever change?

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