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Source: Sams Teach Yourself TCP/IP in 24 Hours by Joe Casad (2012)

Example:

Configuring the router as a DHCP server was easy, at least for Maurice, because he read the documentation carefully and wasn’t afraid to look for help on the Web. (He did need to make sure the internal routers he installed on Day 2 were configured to pass on the DHCP information.) The hard part was manually configuring each of the 1,000 computers to access the DHCP server and receive an IP address dynamically. To configure the 1,000 computers in an 8-hour day, he had to configure 125 computers per hour, or a little more than 2 per minute. This would have been nearly impossible for anyone but Maurice. He knocked several people down, but he finished in time for the 6:00 p.m. bus.

As simple and basic the idiom to knock someone down may sound, I don't think I really understand what exactly it means in this particular context.

  • 6
    +1 for someone who posts the source, and includes the context with the sentence. If only every asker did the same! – Mari-Lou A Nov 3 '16 at 11:04
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    Actually, I think it is fairly literal, and sensible - Maurice had to manually configure each of the 1000 computers in one day; this implies that he had to run around really fast to get to each one, and probably was not too concerned about the people in his way if he had to get to a different computer every 30 seconds! – stangdon Nov 3 '16 at 12:32
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    since the topic here is network configuration, it could mean that he inadvertently knocked some people's computers offline – user5359531 Nov 3 '16 at 13:47
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    Sounds like Maurice was quite the amateur since all of that could have been done with a remotely executed script. – corsiKa Nov 3 '16 at 15:59
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    @corsiKa generally doing stuff through a remotely executed script requires that you have a functional network and have remote access already set up. – Peter Green Nov 3 '16 at 18:20
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The author is simply making a joke; the image is of Maurice rushing from computer to computer, knocking people down (perhaps unintentionally) because he's moving impossibly fast and is on an impossibly tight schedule.

Since Maurice is a fictional character, and not at all intended to be realistic — what he's doing is clearly impossible — I think the phrase probably is intended literally; it's just a humorous vignette.

(I also disagree with the suggestions above that this passage is poorly-written or poorly-edited. I find it quite clear. The point of the hyperbole — the character moving so fast that he's knocking people down — is to emphasize that this is not a practical way to configure such a large number of machines.)

12

It isn't an idiom per se, it is simply a comment that is not meant literally. Maurice was in a rush for the bus, as he spent too much time completing his other tasks. He probably didn't actually knock anybody down, but it conjures up a mental image of people being accidentally knocked in all directions as he runs through the crowd.

Edit: As @jwodder comments, on re-reading it can also be read as him knocking people down moving between computers to complete the job.

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    He need not have been in a rush for the bus, merely in a rush to travel between all of the computers in eight hours. – jwodder Nov 3 '16 at 12:23
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    Although this is probably what it is trying to imply, the phrase still seems out of place though. In one sentence it is talking about working hard on the DHCP configuration problem, then suddenly in the next sentence it is talking about knocking people down to get to the bus – user13267 Nov 3 '16 at 13:39
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    @user13267 I don't see the problem. – Dan Nov 3 '16 at 13:41
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    I think this answer is most likely what was meant by the phrase "knocked down", and even then it is ambiguous whether the people were knocked down while Maurice was working or after. The main thing to take away from this question, I think, is, "Don't write like that." – David K Nov 3 '16 at 14:44
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    I don't see it as an idiom for running for the bus; instead for running round the office... "knocked several people down, but he finished in time..." implies he knocked them down before he left work. [Agreed, it's a lousy construct, but to take it as written] – Tetsujin Nov 3 '16 at 18:47

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