The social skills of a thermonuclear device

Date:February 17, 2004 / year-entry #66
Orig Link:
Comments:    48
Summary:Somebody@somewhere.else described me as having the social skills of a thermonuclear device. I don't remember the incident in question, but I'll have to accept that it happened. I have a very low tolerance for laziness. If you come to me for help, I expect you to have done your homework. (Though I try to scale...

Somebody@somewhere.else described me as having the social skills of a thermonuclear device. I don't remember the incident in question, but I'll have to accept that it happened.

I have a very low tolerance for laziness. If you come to me for help, I expect you to have done your homework. (Though I try to scale my expectations to your position. If you're in a coding position then you had better know how to use a debugger. If you're in a testing position, then you had better know at least how to install the debugger. This is considered part of the standard skill set for a tester.)

But the absolute worst thing you can do is start a conversation by saying, "Hey, Raymond, since you know everything, can you do this for me...?"

Comments (48)
  1. You should have seen my outburst on my old workplace, when I’ve been told by the boss to explain the longtime(!) product manager for mainboards and harddisks how these things actually work. Reason I’ve been asked for were some restructurations in some depts. It seems, that the moron had been buying, selling and setting prices of that stuff on goodwill, and pricelists from the competition. At the end I didn’t get around doing it, due to a nifty line in my work contract which I deemed unimportant in the past.

    So I can understand your reaction as described by that guy on kuro5hin. That he went into defensive mode is a regular side-effect someone does when he catches some flak.

    But that thermonuclear device comment is creative though.

  2. Ian Hanschen says:

    I tend to have impatience with people who avoid using the powers of deduction when debugging, as if a crash is the result of some magic voodoo in the machine.

  3. I’d be glad if anyone could finally explain the psychological background and issues of trolls, so I finally can understand the movitation of all the senseless BS they write up, and why they act like that. If it’s for the fun element of it, I’d like to challenge someone to point out the funney in all posts above done by ".."

  4. Lars says:

    Actually, he’s definitely the fun of the party. Many folks subscribe to mailing lists he’s on for no reason other than to catch his wonderful reactions to people asking things like, "How can I get my app into the pinned favorites list of the start menu during installation?" or "My app goes BLOOP. What’s wrong with Windows?". You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen Raymond’s careful application of psychic powers to amazingly vague requests from people to do their work for them…

  5. James Kew says:

    It was my K5 comment on app-compat which brought your name up there.

    If I’d known that it’d drag a troll in here I wouldn’t have bothered.

  6. .. says:

    Again difference of opinion must be really scary at Redmond, why bother having meetings to make decisions when obviously theyre are already made.

  7. .. says:

    [Note from blog maintainer: I have collected all of ".."’s comments into a single message, at his/her request. To all commenters: If you want to edit an entry, post the edited version and send me email via the Contact link and I’ll delete the old one for you.]

    Hey Raymond, could you wipe my arse for me.

    I think having an intolerance for those that need and want to learn is a bad thing.

    Its mindset that matters, if they dont know how to do something, do they want to learn. yeah fine. good.

    One thing I hate is shity looking code and lazy code when it comes to what if cases or switch cases and commenting and so on.

    Another thing I hate is intentional bragging in code and ego and arrogance.

    Its a virtue to be able to be tolerant with those that have the desire to learn.

    Acting like "you gotta know this or you gotta know that and no buts about it" is just not right, if they are trying and want to learn. fine.

    Everything I have done I always learnt by doing it there and then. I never ever do a job where Ive done it before, whats the point, no learning element and boring. That encourages lazyness.

    I learnt Win32 that way, I learnt C++ that way, C#, C++/CLI metallurgy, robotic vision. the lot. learn from a book, nope I cant do that. Learn by example and applying on the job, sure. Im in.

    Tolerance is a virtue.

    Impatience is the sign of a bad manager. I would be looking for a replacement.

    Let loose the reigns a little but dont let go, thats what makes a good manager. People need space to work, creating a hostile work environemnt will cost productivity.

    I guess we wont be picking you for a peer tutor if you have low tolerance. Im sure there are better employees that can serve as a Mentor peer.

    I guess you throw tantrums and stomp your feet crying when things dont go your way.

    I think I met you once in a game of Unreal Tournament along with all the other 12 year olds l337 kiddies who think every1 else is n00bs.

    I gues you do everything perfectly and there are no bugs in your product. Im sorry what BU are you in and what product do you work on again. I for one would love to have a go testing it :D

    Maybe you play on Allegiance newbie training servers and boot everybody on sight that murmers even the slightest word that you dont like.

    You must be the fun of the party.

    [responding to "Could you please do everyone a favor and keep all trolling to at least one post per entry?"]

    Sure, If I had an edit button It would be nice but hey im not perfect I dont think of everything at once.

    Yeah im a troll, bite me:D

    You know some of us do have social issues or other health issues but hey we’re sloooow so we obviously dont have the right to eat or work.

    If you want to append all my posts into one item , thats fine by me, if you delete them it just shows the ignorance in you too.

    You called me a troll , so that means Having a Difference of opinion = bad and oh lalalaal *covers ears* talk to the hand baby.

    Im sorry what position are you in again, I think it needs to be reevaluated again.

    Yes because having a different opionion to yours is bad and will cause the Moon to deorbit and crash into the Earth and planets to collide.

    The horror.

    How does one get a member of this MasterRace again? Where do I sign up?

  8. Peter Blum says:

    I have to bite my tongue each time a poster at forums asks us to define a class, property or method. I get the impression that so many users are unaware or uninterested in using the .net documentation and simply want others to do the searching for them.

    Almost every day, I see the same question posted on the same forum. Why not use a little thing called "Search"?

    My favorite is when they ask us to design a fairly big system. "Uh, does anybody know how to write an email server in .net?"

  9. Tony Cox says:

    I think it’s fair to expect people to do a little bit of background research on their problem before bothering someone else. Especially if that someone else is not their manager, mentor, or other designated tutor. And especially if the answer is something that can very readily be found with a quick search of the documentation, Google, MSDN, etc.

    In particular, the thing that really bugs me is when people treat newsgroups and mailing lists as their own personal support groups, and get all upset when people don’t want to do their homework for them. Asking for expert advice is one thing. Asking an expert to essentially cut-and-paste the relevant documentation for you is just wasting everybody’s time.

    Even if you are a manager/mentor/tutor, it’s better to ‘teach a man to fish’. If it’s an easy question, tell the person where they could look to find the answer rather than spoonfeeding them.

  10. I think that’s awesome – I just hope that someday I can aspire to have my social skills (or other attributes) compared to a thermonuclear weapon. <grin>

  11. PaulJ says:

    So, somebody at Kuro5hin, of all places, is complaining about other people’s social skills?


  12. .. says:

    During meetings I normally have the farts of a thermonuclear device.

  13. Doug says:

    One needs to have a Snarl. Otherwise all the idiots treat you like online help. If you don’t raise the cost of the answer, all you do is answer questions.

    Now, a thermonuclear snarl, that I like.

    Just haven’t had to work in a place yet where I had to escalate to that level.


    I.E. Raymond, I understand completely and agree. Those who are not treated as online help will never understand.

  14. .. says:

    Idiots, is that how you think of your coworkers? *takes notes uhuh – pink slip* <– intolerance for intolerance :D goes both ways

  15. J. Peterson says:

    Actually, by design most thermonuclar devices are pretty hard to set off (multiple keys, pass codes, cross checks etc.).

  16. Lester Schitt says:

    You say "I have a very low tolerance for laziness". We hear you say "my insecurities are showing".

    You say "this guy should know how to use a debugger!". We hear you say "I feel very threatened if someone thinks this moron is my equal".

    You say "I need to share my unique position with the internet community". We hear you say "My ego can’t help it, I need to start a blog so everyone knows how awesome I am".

  17. Raymond Chen says:

    Actually I wouldn’t have started a blog if Brad Abrams hadn’t told me I should do it.

    I don’t quite understand the other two remarks. The person in question was most likely in a test position, so he/she wasn’t my peer. And how is abhorring laziness a sign of insecurity?

  18. Shane King says:

    "The person in question was most likely in a test position, so he/she wasn’t my peer."

    Really? I’ve heard from multiple sources that the official policy at Microsoft is that testers, programmers and managers are equal positions.

    Are you saying you don’t actually believe this? :)

  19. Raymond Chen says:

    I guess it depends on what you mean by "peer". If you mean "peer" as "somebody you work with", then yes, he/she was a peer. If you mean "peer" as "somebody with the same job function" then no, he/she wasn’t a peer. I was using the latter definition.

  20. .. says:

    Everybody has theyre own roll to play, if you cant, leave or be pushed.

    If you cant handle a diverse workplace or a workplace of different ways of working or skill levels (maybe we should start talking l337 sp33k so you can understand) leave or be pushed out.

  21. Shane King says:

    Sorry Raymond, I understand now. I generally read "peer" as being approximately equivalent in definition to "someone you consider your equal in ability". I didn’t consider you were using it to mean "someone who is equal in job function".

    Thanks for clearing up the confusion.

    Anyway, I can certainly understand your lack of patience for idiocy. I admit my tolerance for people I perceive as stupid requires extra work too. :)

  22. You know, "..", if you don’t actually work with Raymond… why do you care?

    If you do work with him, why are you bitching about this online, and not knocking on his door and resolving the conflict?

    Just curious – no offense intended.

  23. .. says:

    He is the one that started the bitching if I remember, after all he started the blog thread.

  24. Raymond Chen says:

    I’m actually quite amused by the original comment. I’m not complaining.

  25. .. says:

    yEAh J00 4r3 5O l33t DUde, wE 4R3 jUst N3WB135

  26. tom says:

    Here’s another Raymond on how to ask "smart" questions. It’s not all bad.

  27. Ian Hanschen says:

    Heh. I guess I really should have said at _most_ one post per entry, not at _least_…

  28. al says:

    hey, no fair! tom posting links to those open source low lifes…

  29. .. says:

    Yes because doing something a different way is evil and communist.

  30. MilesArcher says:

    When someone hasn’t done their homework or wants me to do their job for them, I answer their question or tell them how to do it. The trick is to give them a brief answer that is technically correct but may not be particularly helpful.

  31. .. says:

    "The trick is to give them a brief answer that is technically correct but may not be particularly helpful. "

    You work for Microsoft Support don’t you.

    A few years ago, a commercial pilot flying a single engine airplane near Seattle was lost and dangerously low on fuel. His passengers were starting to worry. As he flew along he noticed a small hole in the overcast, and zoomed down through it.

    He saw a tall building, and what looked like a janitor cleaning up an office on the 20th floor. He opened the pilot’s side window and yelled to the janitor "I’m lost; can you tell me where I am?’ The janitor looked at him, and with a straight face said: "you’re in an airplane !".

    The pilot made an immediate right turn, flew a couple of miles, and made an uneventfuly landing at Boeing Field.

    His passengers were amazed. "How did you do that with the little that the janitor told you?"

    "Simple", said the pilot. "That man answered my question with an answer that was perfectly correct but absolutely useless. That must have been Microsoft’s Customer Support Office, and the airport is only a couple of miles away !"

  32. Raymond Chen says:

    This is such a versatile joke. You can substitute "manager" or "engineer" or "mathematician" or "accountant" into the punch line and still have a good joke.

  33. Tony Cox says:

    My favourite mathematician joke:

    An astronomer, an engineer, and a mathematician are on a train travelling through Scotland, when they see a black sheep in a field from the window.

    "Aha!" says the astronomer, "All sheep in Scotland are black."

    "No" says the engineer, "All you can say is that the sheep in this field are black."

    The mathematician rolls his eyes. "Gentlemen", he says, "All we know is that in Scotland there exists at least one field, containing at least one sheep, at least ONE SIDE OF WHICH is black."

  34. Giovanni Bajo says:

    My fav math joke is this one:

    At functions’ party, everybody is having fun. You can see Square Root and Addition grooving all around, Logarithm is boozing with some friends, Cosine is chatting some girls up. But there, in a dark corner, Exponential is sitting all by himself, sad and blue, his eyes fixed on the ground. Tangent and Arc Tangent approacch him and say: "Come on, what you’re doing there! It’s a party, you gotta have fun! Just integrate with the others!". Exponential glances them even more depressed and replies: "and how exactly would that change things?"

    And my fav CS joke is:

    How would a string break up with a boolean after years of engangement? She’d say: "Sorry, I should have known from the start that you’re just not my type."

  35. Dan H says:

    Having posted a particulaly stupid question on a rather large discussion alias at MS, I have experienced the Wrath of Raymond.

    On the other hand having posted a good question with adequate background information on same said alias, I have been (ch)enlightened with amazing clarity and succinctness.

    I greatly prefer the latter have nothing but respect for Raymond Chen.

  36. jeffdav says:

    I have been corrected by Raymond on widly distributed e-mail for doing something stupid. Of course I did not know it was stupid when I did it. If I had stopped to think about it, I probably would have suspected it was stupid. But a few weeks after I checked it in it annoyed Raymond for some reason and he called me on it. And that is fine. It is just E-Mail. It is not like he challeneges people to duels at dawn by the fountain. The most important thing was I looked for the documentation, could not find it, and then asked him where it was. And he showed me.

    One of these days I am going to go fix it. :)

  37. Matt says:

    I’d gladly have the social skills of a thermonuclear device if I could have Raymond’s psychic powers. [MSFT inside joke, I suppose.]

  38. Annita Krapp says:

    And you have the humor of a wet sponge.

  39. Kevin says:

    haha good one! Raymond sounds like a big douche bag, but look who he works for…kinda explains everything

  40. I think that Raymond is doing exactly the right thing – which is to force people to think independently. I’ve been nagged quite a lot myself for telling people to RTFM when somebody is asking obvious questions which could be answered by just spending after 1-5 minutes searching MSDN/Google or looking at somebody else’s source code, so I understand where he is coming from. Ability to analyze, research, and find answers in big quantities of information is crucial both in academia and software industry.

  41. Eric Lippert says:

    > You say "I have a very low tolerance for laziness". We hear you say "my insecurities are showing".

    Ooh, can I play this game too? This is always a fun game.

    You say "I criticize people I don’t know and then put words into other people’s mouths" — what exactly do we hear?

  42. Ben Dover says:

    ". I’ve been nagged quite a lot myself for telling people to RTFM"

    Yes because MSDN examples are always real world examples and always show good coding style, well commented and always clear and written by literate developers with the conversation skills a Whitehouse spokesperson.

  43. Cooney says:

    Thermonukes? Hardly – You just demand that people think. They _hate_ that, so they project onto you. I think it also has to do with some sort of aura that the clued possess – people view them as sources of knowledge, then get pissed when those sources expect some work on their part.

  44. Drew says:

    Under questioning, "InThane" claims Raymond "had all the social skills of a banana slug".

    There’s a joke in this somewhere. Raymond Chen, a thermonuclear device, and a banana slug walk into a bar . . .

    This was not meant as a troll – I’m a Raymond mail fan, too. But your psychic powers probably already revealed the tue intent of my post even without my needing this awkward follow-up explanation.

  45. View in Firefox, courtesy of Raymond Chen

  46. Anonymous says: &raquo; On Black Sheep in Scotland&#8230;

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