About the Manual

The Nerd Manual is meant to be both a useful resource for nerds and a guide for the people involved with nerds. If you're a nerd you can find information here that will help you improve your life and perhaps better understand yourself. If you're close friends with, dating, or married to a nerd, I want to give you insight into things nerds do that a lot of people have difficulty understanding.

I hope to avoid offending anyone--either nerd or non-nerd--but please understand that the manual will get into some sensitive topics, stray into contentious territories, and even use stereotypes to illustrate points. It's OK to disagree with something, but keep your comments civil.


Nerdism: MOTD

ASCII Talking Cow
In nerd circles, MOTD is an initialism for Message Of The Day (although it might mean Match of the Day in sports talk, so consider the context carefully).

MOTD dates back to the earliest days of computer connections when system administrators wanted to make sure all users got a message, but didn’t want to send the message to each person individually. The solution was to set up an automatically executed file that displayed a message when a user logged into the system.

A Pony by Mattbas

Usually the MOTD didn’t change much, and included things like rules for using the system and basic instructions such as what to type to get help documentation, although the MOTD might also spit out information about the user’s last login, the system uptime, or even the weather. Admins sometimes got creative with their messages, offering pearls of wisdom in the form of fortune cookies or the ubiquitous talking cow. Some MOTDs even included complex ASCII art depicting anything from dragons to flowers to portraits of musicians, or even ponies of the friendly magical variety.

In the early days you could find MOTDs on UNIX systems and dial-up BBSs--both of which are difficult, but not impossible to access as of 2018--but MOTDs can still be easily found on multiplayer games such as Call of Duty or Battlefield, and of course you can see the MOTD at the beginning of all the Nerd Manual podcasts.

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