Friday, March 30, 2007

Some Calamitous Error Messages - Redux

I've bemoaned the sorry state of "modern" software before (as have many others at various "this product sucks" sites).

My pet peeve is silly, meaningless, inaccurate, incomplete, misleading, thoughtless, and just plain stupid error messages.

I strive to make my own code display error messages that are as meaningful and helpful as possible, but it seems that not everybody does --and this is the year 2007! What hope is there for mankind?

Aunt Calamity has her own ideas over at the "ghost in the machine" web site: Here are illustrations of a mere a few that I've encountered just in the last few days. They come from a variety of software products (the vendors all do it).

  • Top image (Techsmith Snag It v8.2.2) -- if there there are 0 seconds left, are we going into some sort of hyper-time?
  • IBM Lotus Notes v7.0.2 -- What on earth does this mean? (Maybe there's a connection between the digits in the version number and in the error message body "7" and "0" and "2" ?)
  • Qualcomm Eudora (actually this is a deficiency in Windows dialog box architecture, it's not really Qualcomm's fault ) -- Apart from the gobbledygook message text, why can't the "OK button be labeled "Cancel" and the "Cancel" button be labeled "Debug"?)
  • NTI Shadow 3 -- which of several concurrent jobs is the one that has just been completed? (I've asked them to add the Job Name to each message, but they haven't done it.)
Device drivers, and the code that calls them, are consistently bad offenders. Here's one that I came across at THE DAILY WTF recently. "Very Strange: Attempt to disowned by driver after WIN32 Checks out. Disown attempt ignored."

Very strange, indeed!

I could go on and on, but won't bother, and I'm sure you could add your own beauties to the collection!

IE7 vs. Firefox browser share at (end of March 2007)

(Click to view a larger image)

Part of a continuing series -- refer to this previous post, for example -- here's the latest browser share chart on 30 March 2007.

There's something of a resurgence for Firefox (over 30 percent share for once), while IE7's growth seems to have slowed over the last month.

I'm rather surprised that Internet Explorer 6 still holds around a 40 percent share. I would have expected more users to have accepted the Windows XP automatic update path and have had their systems upgraded to IE7 by now. Any comments?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Seven Deadly Signs

Ben Moore writes:

"My favorite kind of client is the type that will actually get his application into production. Beyond the rate that he pays me, a running-in-production application is what I want. ..."
Read more here: 7 Signs Your Project Will Never Make it to Production

One of the seven signs is "After a payment or two, the client asks if you can reduce your rate" -- so what are the other six?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

All that nonsense about XML

Here's a splendidly cathartic article about XML that everybody would benefit from reading (and broadcasting):

XML and the document format mind bender ... "You need to look a level or two deeper if the real value proposition of XML (and it is real) is to be realized in your organization. "

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Equinoxious? Not really...

It's great weather down here in Melbourne, Australia (circled in red in the attached images) just at the moment. Warm, lazy autumn days are rolling on ... Today is our autumn equinox, so we'll be getting less sunshine from now on. But I'm sure you're feeling happy about it up there in the northern hemisphere.

Summer Solstice (Southern Hemisphere)
Up north, the polar bears are snoozing.

About ten years ago, I purchased at a sale for the princely sum of three Aussie dollars, a copy of a great little desktop software product called EarthTime. It was originally developed by Borland and then passed on to Starfish Software. Unfortunately they incorporated it into the SideKick suite and it no longer was a standalone, but the whole caboodle seems to disappeared from the face of the earth now. Read about it here at Wikipedia if you like a bit of nostalgia.

Today: Autumn Equinox (Southern Hemisphere)

Thankfully I've held on to my now priceless copy, and it has proved to be extremely handy as I call customers and friends all over the world. Fantastic value for a mere three Aussie dollars, eh?

Getting back to the point, I felt like sharing three EarthTime representations for this month's equinox and last year's two solstices.

Winter Solstice (Southern Hemisphere)
A dark time to in Antarctica,
but good for Icelanders and the Inuit.