Russ Walter's Secret Guide To Computers
I haven't read this book. Or maybe I did read it and just don't
remember. I do remember Russ Walter. In the early days of
personal computers, Russ advertised that you could call him
any time, day or night, with any computer question and that
he would answer it with no charge. Russ was selling
his book, "The Secret Guide to Computers", which he still
sells today. He still advertises that you can call him 24 hours
You can phone day or night (around-the-clock, 24 hours), since I'm
usually in and sleep just lightly. (If no answer, I'm out on a brief
errand, so try again an hour later.)
At least some of his book is now available on-line with
a copy-left (he says "copywrong") license. Russ describes it
in no uncertain terms:
Unlike a Dummies book (which is written for dummies and keeps them
dumb) and a standard textbook (shoved at overworked college students
to bore them into snoring louder), this book throws you into the
action fast, makes you competent, then makes you wise. It explains
how to buy a computer, then use its operating systems and programs,
then reprogram it to change its soul and launch your career.
When Russ appeared in public at computer shows (which
were much different events back then), he'd wear a wizards
outfit. Apparently he still does that, though he says
"I wear a witch's black hat and red kimono over a monk's habit and roller skates, while my white gloves caress an African spear. Why? Because it's fun!".
I don't recall ever seeing Russ. He lived in Somerville, MA
for a time, so we were in the same state, but I never cared much
for computer shows (still don't) and while I did attend a few
Boston Computer Society meetings now and then, I don't think
we ever crossed paths. I do remember
calling him once about some problem. He had no idea what I was
talking about (it was a Unix thing) but he did seem like a
bright enough guy. Strangely, I don't recall him trying to
sell me a book.
I was reminded of Russ by a newsgroup post about someone else
( http://www.eduflex.com/unix/main.htm ). I found him easily enough with Google even though I couldn't remember his name, or the name of his book. It was the fifth hit for
"boston computer society computer wizard", which was the sum of my memory at
that moment. I was delighted to find that he is still alive,
still strange, still selling his book, and apparently still answering his phone. No,
I didn't call him.
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