O’Reilly Media, Inc.

August 4, 2005

O’Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North
Sebastopol, CA 95472

In regards to: Windows Server Cookbook by Robbie Allen


Dear O’Reilly Media,

I’m a short order cook. The place I’m working at was recently taken over by a new owner and this jackass is now in the process of jerking everyone around and making them change the way things have been ever since I’ve been working here, which has been just over 12 years now. The new owner fired my old boss and hired a new manager who’s a real dickcheese. On his first day on the job, he asks me to come up with some “exotic” dishes that I can cook which would be added to the new menu they’re trying to come up with. Exotic! At a fucking truck stop restaurant?! The new boss is crazy. I guess he believes I’m some sort of fancyass chef or something, I don’t know. I wasn’t going to do it at first, but then he told me that if they were good enough he’d give me a half-buck raise every hour I worked. I hadn’t had a raise in quite some time now, and fifty cents an hour is a damn good increase.

Being a short order cook, I serve the cooked food through a window to the waitresses, so as a windows server, your Windows Server Cookbook appealed to me right off the bat. I bought it without looking inside, which I now know was a mistake.

What kind of gibberish is this? There’s not a single recipe in this book as far as I can tell, but then again, I can’t even make out what any of the shit inside this book is about. Though the words are in English, the writing makes no sense whatsoever.

What the hell is up with the monkey on the cover? I thought this was a window server recipe book with exotic recipes inside that told how to cook monkeys, but I know now I’ve been ripped off by you people. None of the things written in this cookbook have anything to do with cooking, let alone monkeys. I didn’t notice it until after I bought the book, but at a closer glance I noticed that the monkey seems to be masturbating. Why would you put a drawing of a masturbating monkey on the cover of a cookbook that contains no recipes? Tell me that! I want to know why the monkey is whacking off, you sickos!

In fact, I want an explanation to all of this, god damn it! Where are the recipes I paid for? I demand you send me the recipes, at least the one’s that will tell me how to cook monkey. My damn boss wants me to make the exotic recipes, and I aim to get that raise. So you write me back and send me what I paid for and I insist you send me an explanation along with it.



Barry Cuda
Short Order Cook

The O’Reilly Media Response:

August 17, 2005

Dear Mr. Cuda,

Thank you for your letter of August 4, 2005 regarding the Windows Server Cookbook by Robbie Allen. We always appreciate hearing from our customers, even when they are less than fully satisfied with our books.

Frankly, your letter took me by surprise. Yours is the first complaint we’ve had about the Windows Server Cookbook. On Amazon.com all of its reviews but one give the book five out of five stars, with comments like: “Robbie Allen does it again. This book is a must buy,” “True to the O’Reilly standards, the Windows Server Cookbook is easy to follow and packs a wealth of knowledge,” and “This is an excellent book.”

So my first thought was that this might be a language problem. There’s quite a lot of scripting in the book, both in VBScript and Perl, and this can definitely look like gibberish to someone who is used to another language, Java or C++, for example.

But you mentioned that you’ve been at your job for a long time now–twelve years, you said–and I would be surprised if you hadn’t picked up at least a little VBScript along the way. I strongly recommend that you take another look at the recipes in the book and see whether or not they can be useful to you. From your letter, I get the impression that you might be a bit hasty. For example, you wrote, “I bought it without looking insideā€¦” I’m sure you know that this is no way to judge a book. But having purchased it, I suggest you look through it once more and maybe try a few of the recipes, if only for the sake of the additional fifty cents an hour raise your boss promised you. You might begin with something easy like recipe 2.8, “Setting the Name of a Server” (for instance, you might prefer to be called “Barry” or “Chief” or even “Mr. Short Order Cook”) and then work up to something more challenging like recipe 13.18, “Preventing Windows Clients from Attempting Dynamic Updates” (I’m sure you have many problems with changing orders on the fly).

With regard to the monkey, you asked, “What the hell is up with the monkey on the cover?” I need to point out that this is not, in fact, a monkey, but a baboon. There’s a difference, you know. And if you had looked more closely, Mr. Cuda (further evidence that you tend to be hasty), you would have seen that the baboon is engaged in grooming and not in whatever activity you imagined it was. Self-grooming, I’ll admit, but grooming nevertheless. If you are at all familiar with the social habits of baboons, you’ll recall that grooming is an important affiliative mechanism for them. As the renowned primatologist Dr. Barbara Smuts points out in her groundbreaking book, Sex and Friendship in Baboons (Harvard University Press, 1985), “Grooming is the cement that keeps the primate social structure together.” (FYI, Dr. Smuts’s book is considered “indispensable”: “Despite the title, I’d prefer to have sex and friendship outside of a baboon, but for those brave enough to try, this book is an indispensable guide.”–Magellan, Amazon.com review, Dec. 11, 2002)

On a personal note, I need to tell you that I was slightly put off by your use of the term “sickos.” For your information, O’Reilly animals do not “whack off.” Or, to be precise, they do not do so on the covers of our books. It’s true that there was an unfortunate depiction of frolicking Caenorhahbditis elegans on the cover of a certain book (no, I won’t tell you which book), but anyone who is acquainted with the procreational activities of C. elegans wouldn’t be at all surprised by this. Really, what else would you expect from a nematode?

I hope you’ll take my advice and spend a little more time with the recipes in the cookbook, especially if you’re really determined to get that raise. Let me know how it goes, and if you find that they still don’t meet your needs, I’m sure we can come up with something else you’ll consider more digestible. The Python Cookbook, perhaps, or Squid: The Definitive Guide.

Finally, I’d like to leave you with the words of a rather apt African proverb: Wode soa ensa, fye wo ensa (When you eat a monkey’s hand, look at your own hand). Food for thought, Mr. Barry Cuda. Food for thought.

Best regards,

Kathryn Barrett
O’Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North
Sebastopol, CA 95472

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