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The secret to my computer skills

April 18, 2009

RTFM internet acronym

I love my clients, because they usually flatter me with terms like “genius” and “savior” on a regular basis. This makes me very happy. 🙂

A question that I get all the time from my clients is how in the world do I possibly know everything that I know about computers. In response to this, I typically smile at them with a sly grin, fold up the collars on my trenchcoat, put on my sunglasses, pull the fedora down over my forehead, and walk away with my silver metallic briefcase in hand.

Well, I’m in a great mood today (woke up after a much-needed 11 hours of sleep, ate lots of yummy food, had a lovely bike ride, went to the gym, and I’m off to a friend’s party now), so I’ve decided to publicly share the secret of my computer skills to the world.

I understand the risk that I may be permanently putting myself out of a job here, but I’m willing to take that risk in order to educate the public. Here goes:

All I do is read the manual.

That’s it. Sorry to spoil the big mystery for everyone. 🙂

Yep, I’ve basically spent my entire computer career reading manuals. For example, I’ve been doing FileMaker Pro database programming for over 17 years, but now that the amazing new FileMaker Pro 10 just came out, I’m reading the new FileMaker Training Series manual from scratch. It’s over 700 pages, a lot of it will be a review for me, but at least 100 pages of it will be new material.

When Apple made the gigantic shift from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X back in 2001, it was a strange & scary new world to even longtime Mac consultants like myself. Every single Mac consultant in the world was starting from zero again. I had to get up to speed quickly. So what did I do? I read the entire book “Mac OS X: The Missing Manual” from cover-to-cover. When I finished, I knew about 80% of the information that I needed to move my business forward into the 21st Century. By the way, I do not necessarily recommend that book for Mac beginners, as it is more of an intermediate-level book. If you’re brand new to the Mac, I would recommend starting with “Switching To the Mac: The Missing Manual” first.

The other day, I helped a client of mine synchronize her FileMaker databases to her iPhone, something which is not currently offered in the current version of FileMaker. I did this with the help of a wonderful little plug-in called Address Book Manipulator. Again, all it took was me reading the manual (and a lot of FileMaker programming skills).

And today, I just finished reading the 53-page manual for my new favorite program OmniOutliner Pro. This program is so awesome, and it’s put out by one of the greatest Mac companies on the planet, The Omni Group. It is also the program that my screenwriting partner Herbert Barry Woodrose and I are using to outline our fabulously funny comedy screenplay. The OmniOutliner manual may have been one of the most fun manuals I have ever read — it was conversational, filled with humor, and it taught me the entire program by walking me through exercises step-by-step. At first, the program was daunting, but now I know how to use about 99% of the program.

When you think about it, computer skills are a skill that anybody can learn because it’s as easy as reading a manual. I wish that other skills were as easy to learn as reading a book — such as being able to draw or paint or ski or sing! All things which I have tried in the past and have failed miserably at! 🙂

So anyways, there you go, folks! My secret revealed at last! :-p

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 18, 2009 11:26 PM

    Excellent! So… I’m still going to need you to read the manuals and tell me how to do everything. And I’ll most likely need that information at 4 a.m.

  2. April 19, 2009 12:16 AM

    You got it. The bill’s in the mail.

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