Existentialist errors, Lent, and other gripes

Letters Bill Longman, who describes himself as "Just Another MIS Manager", knows how to get into The Register's postbag:-

Andrew [*],

The Register is so FANTASTIC I am going to call my next child Reginald. She'll just have to deal with it.

Thanks, Bill.

Mr JW William has a reminder for us:-

Subject: All humanity in the West

I love The Reg. I have for quite some time. But, do me a favour?

I can't stand being called a "consumer". Last time I checked, I have a brain, and frequently I use it for decisions. I purchase as a customer, which to me is far more than a vapid, blind, caged creature being stuffed with whatever is next on the menu. There is a big difference being an educated customer, and a consumer that doesn't think. We can all feel the tight squeeze of communism gathering around, but let's not help them out with the plan.


Absolutely, Mr William. The best way to combat over consumption is to avoid referring to consumption. I'll start by giving it up for Lent.

Randy Fischer writes:-


RE: Motorola gambles big on Linux, Sinocapitalism

Regarding your statement:

Sweatshops for the likes of Dell, who employ Asian contract manufacturers simply because there aren't enough prisoners in the USA to provide cheap labor.

Are you nuts?

We have plenty (546 per 100,000) and the current administration is looking for ways to imprison more. Please don't provide additional reasons. Thank you for your time.

The weird knowledge base entry described here prompted memories of other existentialist error messages.

I must respectfully disagree with your claim that a "Nothing beyond" message from Windows CE is the most memorable/best/funnies/loneliest error message. Check out this anecdote from a WebTV developer about an error message that greeted anyone who tried to sign up for WebTV immediately after they launched (you have to view the screenshot to see the message): http://www.fadden.com/techmisc/webtv-anecdotes.htm

Sam "The Mad Hatter" Clippinger

Henry Juengst adds:-

Indeed, it doesn't. Connect. It Does. Not. I think you think Microsoft does not think.

Matthew Ayres has a typical example:-

I don't want to get into a "when I worked at MIT in the early '70s" type bragging session but..... I once worked for a small mathematical modelling consultancy and was (only once) asked to write a new module for one of their spreadsheet-based tools. For reasons that at the time seemed perfectly obvious I ended up implementing an error message that read:

"An Error has occurred but its associated message has not been implemented in this version of the software"

As these things tend to go we spent hours arguing over the exact grammar of this message without ever discussing its usefulness.

Actually, that's polite. The friendliest computer UI of all time - MacOS - was still generating negative numbers, with no associated message, right up until it final release.

Martin writes:-

You may be entertained to know that early Psions - Series 3 - featured among their error messages such immortals as "user abandoned" and even "media corrupt"! Think of the possibilities.

It's a good job we're incorruptible, Martin. [dot com upgrade - disappointed reader].

Dan Halford remembers a real belter from a version of the Lotus Notes client:-
The message title was "Critical Error" and it was accompanied by the all-to-familiar white X in a red circle. The text of the message read:

"The expected error did not occur".

But Phil Driscoll's example is the most existentialist:-

On Acorn's Risc OS machines, if you missed the 'then' out of an 'if' statement on the command line you were greeted with the scary: 'There is no then'

Very Beckett. ®

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