For those of you who don't know, an apologist is one who defends his position, not apologizes for it, as the word would imply. (I learned that ages ago from the king of reference books: the dictionary.)


Since you're reading this, I'm guessing most of you are like me. You're probably smart, love to tinker, and most importantly, impatient. You're probably the guy who tries to assemble the toys on Christmas eve, gets frustrated, then, in a last ditch effort, reads the instruction manual at 2am. I'm that guy too. (I find that last thought rich with irony since I'm the guy who writes the manual.)


The Point

Even though you probably know 90% of what's going on in all of your endeavors, you're still unaware of 10%. That additional 10% of information can mean the difference between success and failure. For example, when I was just a little tater tot learning to play chess, no one ever explained the en passant rule to me. I was caught off guard when an opponent removed one of my pawns from the board as though we were playing Checkers. I was also embarrassed by my ignorance. Needless to say, I learned the rule.




How much do you know about your software?

In my career, I have developed software and written manuals for software. To this day there are still functions that I have created, documented, and then forgotten about. The only thing that jogged my memory was the reference material. You would be amazed at how much detail developers put into their software, and it's not for their amusement. Their hard work is for your benefit. (Easter eggs are for their amusement.) The more you know about the software you use, the more productive you'll be. My suggestion to you would be to spend a few minutes going through the Administrator's Guide of your software and browse the topics. Are you really getting the most out of your network monitoring software? Do you know everything about application monitoring? How well can you create detailed alerts? Are you afraid of reports? Questions like these are covered and answered in SolarWinds' Administrator's Guides.

Any technical manual will be to your benefit.

I bet you avoid reading manuals like the plague, and here's how I know:

  • Did you know that in your car there's a little arrow next to the fuel gauge light? Do you know what that's for? I didn't either until I read the owner's manual. The arrow points to the side of the car where the gas cap lives.
  • I'm sure you all know how to copy and paste via the keyboard in Windows. But do you know all of the keyboard shortcuts? Do you know 90%? Do you even know how many there are? For a cheat sheet of some of these shortcuts, click here.
  • You use Google, don't you? Why search the entire world when the manual may be right in front of you?


See, you don't even know what you don't know. For instance, if you decided to learn all of the Windows shortcuts available, imagine how much more productive you would be.


Instruction manuals do have their place in the world.

The SAM Administrator's Guide is now tipping the Toledos at a whopping 1,100 pages, and that doesn't even account for the additional 1,000 pages in template reference! While that may seem rather large, you will certainly thank me later when you search it for something and then find the solution. Remember, this is not a novel that you need to read cover to cover. Don't know how to do something? Just look at the Table of Contents and jump to that section for the answer. Read a few pages and you're done. Use it for reference. Don't be afraid. Ask those tough questions. The more questions you ask, the more answers you'll find...which will ultimately lead to less questions. In school, open book tests were laughed at. This is the real world and those books were written for a reason. Please use them. In fact, right now I'll provide you a list of our more popular ones:


General Networking and NPM


Server & Application Monitor (SAM)


But I read the Release Notes.

Good for you. The Release Notes are short and easy to follow. That's a start. Reading the Release Notes will inform you of new features and potential problems you may encounter in a particular release. This does not excuse you from at least perusing the Table of Contents of your SolarWinds' Administrator's Guides. The monitoring software you use is their to help you. So is the documentation. Would you rather spend five minutes reading how to do something, or spend an hour on the phone with Customer Support? The choice is yours. For me, the choice is simple: RTFM. (If you don't know what RTFM means, let me Google that for you, just this once.)