Error message

I have to set up a new award for the “most incomprehensible error message on my PC this evening.” It’s a small category with only one contender. But this would still be a shoe-in contender, even if it was up against the bizarre messages my work PC gives out.

avg error message

If you cant read this, it says

“Test cannot be started because it already does not exist”

Thanks to wikileaks, however, I can reveal the error message instructions at the heart of the Matrix.


Access level: Top Secret Distribution: Error message Replicators

Error message bots’ code of conduct

  • Never explain. Never apologise.
  • Make sure you use the word fatal. This always inspires user optimism.
  • If you’ve used up your store of fatals, say unrecoverable
  • Always include the word error. There’s a high chance the user will take the blame.
  • Include at least one over-16 digit number, preferably in Hex
  • Stay onscreen just long enough for the recipient to imbibe the concepts of fatal and/or unrecoverable.
  • Never stay onscreen long enough for the user to actually write down the number of the error.
  • Freeze all processes and shut down instantly if the user tries a Print Screen
  • However, be sparing in your use of several alarming words and disturbingly large numbers at the same time. Users are frail compared to silicon-based life forms. They may be panicked into binning their whole system.
  • Locating the precise memory block holding the error is always useful. All PC users know exactly what is going on in any segment of their hard disk at any time.
  • Drill your human-machine hybrid tech support workers to respond only if provided with at least one over-16 digit hex number and a precise physical memory address.
  • Set off threatening security alarms if the user tries to fix anything, themselves. Be sure to mention their contracts of employment…
  • Ensure PC behaves normally in the presence of a tech support bot. Time your re-presentation of the message to occur exactly 5 minutes after the support bot leaves the room.

Technorati links mystery

Technorati gives this blog a level of authority that could be considered pretty generous,given the unauthoritative nature of most of our posts. However, for the uninitiated, in Technoratispeak, “authority” refers to how popular you blog is, determined by how many other blogs link to it, not by how authoritative your content is (mercifully…).

But, links to us from the Atheist Blogroll that I can actually see on my screen – and that send visitors to us, according to FireStats – haven’t been listed for months.

I’ve tried researching the reasons for this, unsure whether the fault lies with our code (that would hardly be a first), our recent attempts to restyle the site (not an unmitigated success, yet), Technorati or the Atheist blogroll’s code.

I am none the wiser. This appears in Technorati’s explanation for why links may not get picked up.

If the link was in a blogroll, you may want to check to see if the hyperlink to your blog is located in the blog source of the blogroll. Blogroll links that are generated via a tool or script are not seen. The blogroll must reside in the blog home page as well. If the blogroll is in a subsection or directory of the site, it is not seen or picked up

On an experimental basis, I visited the most recent posters (at the top of the blogroll list on the left.) doesn’t actually show the blogroll, nor have a link to Technorati that I could have used to check if it picks up the link from us.

Sans God has us on the Blogroll, on the index page and not below the so-called jump (other Technorati forum reasons for not seeing links) When I looked for blogs that link to Sans God, I see: “Why Dont You Blog? by Admin Istrator · 44 days ago ” Well no. It rather looks to me as if we linked to them today and yesterday and the day before and so on. When the 6 months from 44 days ago is up, we will disappear off their list of linked blogs.

God is pretend has a scrolling blogroll. Maybe that’s why our blog – which shot itself in the listing foot by starting with a letter as close as dammit to the end of the alphabet – doesn’t appear to be linked to from here. But, wait, God is pretend has only 3 inbound links and Whydontyou doesnt appear in the three. Maybe that’s because they are using a script.

We get lots of links from visitors to Gratuitous common sense and I can see us quite clearly on their blogroll, on the index page, not below the jump etc. Ahha. Technorati thinks this has links from whydontyou, but dates them as 35 and 50 days ago…..

I am getting bored with this. You get the picture. The only links that keep getting consistently
updated are from Parabiodox (ffs :-D) and content-scrapers. Any ideas?

Life before the Internet?

How do you get broadband if you don’t have an Internet connection?

Answer: You phone someone with a net connection to do it for you.

Explanation: TW is currently offline due to having to move to a place in which only the most intrepid ISPs will offer the most minimal services. Thanks to the world-class silliness of Virgin media tech support service, I have also very recently spent another two weeks offline. I will spare you from the uber-dull details, solved eventually again by the Cafe-Nero-style lad who seems to be Virgin’s only competent techy. It was hellish, in a very mild sense of the word “hellish”, true, but, nonetheless, you wouldn’t choose to do it.

In fact, how does anyone live now without being plugged into the matrix of the Net?

Even given the willful Luddism that stops me from doing Internet banking or shopping, I genuinely can’t imagine how we lived before the Internet, let alone before PCs. It’s not that I wasn’t alive, then, either.

But, to be honest, I can barely conceive of there not being an Internet. If ever anything felt like historical inevitability, it’s the world wide web.

How did we get information? Despite dumping industrial quantities of used books on charity shops every time I move, this house is still a book depository. But, it never has a book with the right information when I need it.

Which is always ten minutes ago, because of the “instant information gratification” expectation that has come along with the Internet. So the library won’t do either.

In fact the local library, which was limited enough (with romantic novels, improving multicultural children’s books and fishing hobbyist books filling about 70% of its shelves) has been more or less replaced by a caffeine-beverages-free Internet cafe. The incommoding books got sold off for pennies, even adding a few volumes to the aforementioned book depository.

I seem to remember it was possible to write letters, take photos, contact people, do calculations, play games, draw pictures, play music and so on. It seems unlikely that we did them much, though, given how bloody hard it is to do any of these things without a computer and a net connection.

Pencil and paper are OK. At least they are portable. But, have you tried using a manual typewriter? A calculator? Well, you just wouldn’t, would you? You might as well get out the slate and abacus.

Have you tried even using your PC without the Internet, recently? It’s OK for playing music and doing 3d rendering. After that it’s like playing frisbee with a dog with its back legs cutoff.

Virgin (techy) to the slaughter

I am going to take my metaphorical hat off to Virgin broadband customer service here. This is mainly due to a certain amount of guilt at what the poor tech support lad had to go through to serve a customer.

Here’s the picture:

Chirpy lad, who’d look more at home serving coffee in Cafe Nero, wearing his chirpy new Virgin-Media-logoed sweatshirt, not iunlike the primary school uniforms round here, turns up as per spec.
Enters house that is being rebuilt around a woman who is sitting in the middle of the floor, surrounded by a pile of binbags, full of food and mouldy books, osessively tapping at a coffee-covered keyboard. The particular half-disassembled PC at which she is kneeling is only one of a mixture of half assembled PCs, each of which is trailing random colours and shapes of wires. The PC she is using has no sides to the case. All components are covered with a fine coating of brick and wood dust.

The keyboard, mouse and mouse mat are balanced on the top of the case. This is not immediately apparent, given that keyboards, mice, micemats, abound – as well as scanners, three sets of giant headphones, a couple of webcams, a surroundsound set of cube speakers, half a dozen power packs, a few data cables, a digital camera a spirit level, a canister each of Dove deodorant, Safeclens monitor cleaninfg fluid, and Xanto carpet and upholsery mousse (oh, the irony of the last two), a laser printer, 2 coffee cups, a few CRT monitors, a kettle, a huge collection of USB to MP3 cables and far too many other bits of crap to count. Not to mention industrial quantities of ciggarrette stumps and random ash.

He is as yet unaware that the PC has no on-off switch – it being ignited by pressing a clicky thing that was once a component of an off switch.

Nor that the afore-mentioned woman has one major objective apart – from a stable internet connection – which is to hide the lack of an on/off switch at all costs, in case the techy decides that he can’t be expected to connect a pc without an on/off switch to anything except a truck going to landfill. So whatever, he does, she is going to make sure he doesn’t try to make her reboot.

She starts off by apologising for the building work and explaining that the builders (I worship at your shrine, European Community, who made it all possible, by the way) didnt start until after the net connection started to go random. He is now on the spot and has to say “no problem” when he clearly never expected to get drilled and sawed and painted round while he worked. This has now given him no out for when he finds the cable from the cable modem to the wall is being crushed under the weight of a glass door.

She insists that the obviously untroubled online state of the PC is not the norm. He is further stumped – he is here because there is no working internet connection…. When she goes into tedious detail of how she’s got it back, involving messing about at the command prompt and typing in her own IP, he starts to look increasingly panicked.

Thye stare at the PC, willing it to drop its net connection. It doesnt. He fiddles around with obviously blameless cable connections and finds them blameless. He has absolutely no idea what to do, he can’t determine any fault that he can possibly influence. He is surrounded by workmen who are achieving biblical miracles of transformation before his eyes, in times that would shame a microwave, while he is spending half an hour prodding at rock solid connections, reading things off the screen which the aforementioned woman has already written down days ago.

He doesn’t know what to do, so that he can have done SOMETHING, so he can bring the job to an end.

Inspiration. There is a loose piece of plastic missing on one end of the cat5 going to the PC. His face, near to despair at this point, lights up. He gets a piece of fresh cat5 with no broken ends and replaces the tired cat5. (Aforementioned woman has already tried about 6 different piece sof cat5, cannily hiding the ones that looked frayed so he didn’t falsely blame the cat5)

He incomprehensibly removes a bit of the tv box – which isnt even on the same cable from the point at which the signal comes into the house – and prepares to escape.

Get effusive thanks from woman, as she has been spared the ignominy of having to reboot by rubbing two sticks together. He then confides that the last house he went to has the exact same problem. He has no idea what caused it there either…..

(It has been pointed out to me since that the issue is almost certainly due to dchp not being properly set up on the server, after the outage at the time of the changeover. So, there really was nothing he could have done here, anyway)

So, given that the apparently bizarre woman was me – caught at an eccentric moment – I have to say – “sorry, tech support, you did everything you were supposed to, when you were supposed to and you remained helpful throughout the process and resisted what must have been the overwhelming temptation to run or, at least, blame me. Thanks for the cat5.”