A Guide to Modern Operating Systems

Jeremy Elson
April, 1994

Early in 1994, when I was a junior at the Johns Hopkins CS department, I came across a funny description of how to shoot yourself in the foot using various programming languages. A few days later, I thought of a couple of similar methods of self-foot-shooting that could be applied to operating systems, so I sat down and tried to think of enough of them that it would be worthwhile to try posting somewhere. I submitted the fruits of my labor to the rec.humor.funny newsgroup, where it was accepted and posted in April of 1994 -- the moderator even gave it a rating of "chuckle"!

rec.humor.funny has a very large readership so my FOOTOS joke was seen by a large number of people. I got mail from people around the world complimenting me on it, including a couple of people who asked me for permission to reprint it in various obscure computer magazines that I'd never heard of. The moderator of comp.os.linux.announce even added the part about Linux to his .signature for a few days (until, as I recall, he removed it when a misattribution of the quote to Andy Tannenbaum on one of the Linux newsgroups caused a massive flame war).

Today, FOOTOS still lives on in many computer-humor archives (AltaVista had 23 citations last time I checked), as well as the official archives of rec.humor.funny. It's nice to know that something I wrote was accepted into the annals of computer culture.

So, now that you know the story behind the story, here's the story itself...

This was inspired by the recent file making its rounds on the Net describing how to shoot yourself in the foot in a variety of programming languages. Now, the madness is extended to operating systems.

You shoot yourself in the foot.

You keep running up against the one-bullet barrier.

The gun blows up in your hand.

Windows NT:
The gun is so huge and unwieldy that you have to keep swapping it from one hand to the other.

The gun and the bullet aren't speaking to each other any more.

Mac Finder:
It's easy to shoot yourself in the foot -- just point and shoot.

You can shoot yourself in the foot with either a .38 or a .45.

The Terminator shoots you in the foot. A T-Rex bites your other foot.

The gun isn't compatible with your foot.

You learn how to shoot yourself in the foot with a Saturday Night Special.

Generous programmers from around the world all join forces to help you shoot yourself in the foot for free.

You'll be able to shoot yourself in the foot Real Soon Now.

IBM shoots you in the foot.

\FOOT\ ambiguous: supply more toes.

The gun works pretty well, except that few people use one and it's impossible to find bullets.

The bullets work pretty well, but they don't make guns for it any more.

You shoot yourself in the foot with an Uzi.

You shoot all of your friends' feet simultaneously.

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Original humor by Jeremy Elson, written in April 1994
Web page last modified on 22 December 1998