How To RTFM

I wrote this little story many years ago.  It was originally posted as a section on the EFNet #winprog channel FAQ.  The oldest copy of the FAQ page that the Wayback Machine has is 2001, so it’s at least that old, if not a bit older.

Since then, I’ve been occasionally curious to see if it ever gained any traction, and so I plug a quoted section of it into Google to see how many hits I get back of pages that have copied it. Doing this just now returned 169 hits. Rarely is it attributed, even to my nickname at the time, and since I didn’t really put any effort into spelling out who wrote it, that’s not surprising.

So now that I have a blog and stuff, here’s me taking credit: I wrote it! Here it is again, formatted for the 2010s, a 10th anniversary edition of sorts.

How To RTFM

by Brook Miles

One day a Novice came to the Master.
“Master,” he said, “How is it that I may become a Writer of Programs?”
The Master looked solemnly at the Novice.
“Have you in your possession a Compiler of Source Code?” the Master asked.
“No,” replied the Novice.
The Master sent the Novice on a quest to the Store of Software.

Many hours later the Novice returned.
“Master,” he said, “How is it that I may become a Writer of Programs?”
The Master looked solemnly at the Novice.
“Have you in your possession a Compiler of Source Code?” the Master asked.
“Yes,” replied the Novice.
The Master frowned at the Novice.
“You have a Compiler of Source. What now can prevent you from becoming a Writer of Programs?”
The Novice fidgeted nervously and presented his Compiler of Source to the Master.
“How is this used?” asked the Novice.
“Have you in your possession a Manual of Operation?” the Master asked.
“No,” replied the Novice.
The Master instructed the Novice as to where he could find the Manual of Operation.

Many days later the Novice returned.
“Master,” he said, “How is it that I may become a Writer of Programs?”
The Master looked solemnly at the Novice.
“Have you in your possession a Compiler of Source Code?” the Master asked.
“Yes,” replied the Novice.
“Have you in your possession a Manual of Operation?” the Master asked.
“Yes,” replied the Novice.
The Master frowned at the Novice.
“You have a Compiler of Source, and a Manual of Operation.  What now can prevent you from becoming a Writer of Programs?”

At this the Novice fidgeted nervously and presented his Manual of Operations to the Master.
“How is this used?” asked the Novice.
The Master closed his eyes, and heaved a great sigh.
The Master sent the Novice on a quest to the School of Elementary.

Many years later the Novice returned.
“Master,” he said, “How is it that I may become a Writer of Programs?”
The Master looked solemnly at the Novice.
“Have you in your possession a Compiler of Source Code, a Manual of Operation, and an  Education of Elementary?” the Master asked.
“Yes,” replied the Novice.
The Master frowned at the Novice.
“What then can prevent you from becoming a Writer of Programs?”

The Novice fidgeted nervously. He looked around but could find nothing to present to the Master.
The Master smiled at the Novice.
“I see what problem plagues you,” said the Master.
“Oh great master, please tell me,” asked the Novice.

The Master turned the Novice toward the door, and with a supportive hand on his shoulder said, “Go young Novice, and Read The Fucking Manual.”>>
And so the Novice became enlightened.