back to article Let's talk about April Fools' Day jokes. Are they ever really harmless?

Hurrah, the weekend is here! And with it comes the promise of two days free of work and filled with joy. Calm your excitement with another tale from those at the coalface in our regular On Call feature. Today's cautionary tale comes from "Edward", who began (and almost ended) his IT career in the late 1990s with what can only …

  1. Korev Silver badge

    My old employer had software which included "If you see this message then speak to "Pete"". A customer managed to get the message and they wouldn't put them through to him...

    1. Nick Kew

      Hitting Edward in the Head

      I use that kind of message, but anonymise it. So you'd see in your logs: "*** BUG: this can't happen".

      Of course it's a useful message. When someone's subsequent changes to the logic mean the path *can* be reached, it's not merely a message that can be found easily by grep, but also an indicator of something we need to review for.

    2. J27

      This is why most software error messages are super vague and suggest you "try again" or "contact us". Most systems automatically log all exceptions and their dev team is already looking at it before you even call.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Most systems automatically log all exceptions and their dev team is already looking at it before you even call.has been sacked long ago, so the company hopes the error either goes away, or you upgrade to the new more cloudy version of the software


        1. J. R. Hartley

          Nonsence. Sacked is such a cruel word.


          1. mr_souter_Working

            I believe the correct manglement term these days is "rightsized".............

      2. Muscleguy

        Hah! I’m registered as a tutor on an online tutoring site. I had all sorts of problems registering with them because their system would not accept photos of my passport (fairly new). The ‘help’desk was not helpful and I was not making any progress. So they knew about it.

        I was on a certain business social media site and saw an add from them seeking a computer expert type of person. I posted below text to the effect that this was good as it was patently needed.

        I then got contacted by a helpful, knowledgeable person who suggested I email them an image of my passport which I did and magically I was past the snafu and through.

        Knowing about it and doing anything about it are two different things and people should not have to badmouth companies online to get attention. They take a cut of my earnings so I was proposing to make them money and they couldn’t be bothered to help me.

        1. JLV

          You’re a trusting fellow wrt them not getting hacked with your passport info aboard for the ride.

          Is this a customary approach to establishing someone is who they say they are? Anything less risky around ?

          I’d fax it, maybe.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Error Messages

    When debugging we used to have messages popup with "Arse", "Crap", "Bollocks", etc so we know where in the code it failed.

    However when we replace the messages with proper error messages before being let loose onto the world, there was always the odd 1 or 2 that are missed...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Error Messages

      >"Arse", "Crap", "Bollocks",

      Begging for Feck,arse, girls.

      1. Tigra 07

        Re: Error Messages

        Don't forget to DRINK!

        Well, it is Friday!

        1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble?

          Re: Error Messages

          I really shouldn't be here!

          1. Tigra 07

            Re: Error Messages

            "I really shouldn't be here!"

            Careful now.

            1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble?

              Re: Error Messages

              Careful now.

              Down with this sort of thing

              1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

                Re: Error Messages

                Hairy Japanese bastards!

                1. Tigra 07

                  Re: Error Messages

                  It doesn't really fit, but my favourite quote:

                  "Even if there are 200 million priests in the world and five percent are paedophiles. That's still only 10 million paedophiles!"

              2. JimboSmith Silver badge

                Re: Error Messages

                Nuns! Nuns! Reverse reverse.....

              3. Simon Harris

                Re: Error Messages

                We should have an SQL not found message...

                >SELECT priests FROM craggyisland WHERE iq > 100

                That would be an ecumenical matter.

                1. Rudolph Hucker the Third

                  Re: Error Messages

                  Small, Far Away.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Error Messages

                    Used to be one of my favourite shows, till it turned out Graham Linehan (one of the forces behind Father Ted) is a royal twonk and some might say a bigot spreading the same lines that were used against homosexuals in the not too distant past against trans rights activists...


                    1. Kiwi

                      Re: Error Messages

                      Used to be one of my favourite shows, till it turned out Graham Linehan (one of the forces behind Father Ted) is a royal twonk and some might say a bigot spreading the same lines that were used against homosexuals in the not too distant past against trans rights activists...

                      It is his right to say what he believes to be true.

                    2. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Error Messages

                      If you read the article, he is actually spot on. He is not "transphobic" but is calling out those people who are exploiting the issue of trans-sexualism to promote their political interests.

                    3. Muscleguy

                      Re: Error Messages

                      So, you are a denier of biological reality then? I’m a developmental biologist and I know lots of stuff about sex determination which you obviously don’t. While we can repurpose certain tissues and use cosmetic surgical techniques to alter the genitals we cannot turn ovaries into testes or vice versa and we will never be able to because the requirements of making large vs small gametes are fundamentally different. Small gametes are motile for a start whereas large ones are very much not (Brownian motion excepted).

                      I have seen eggs moving but only because a late coming sperm is stuck in the zona pellucida with its tail whipping around. You need a higher power to see the sperm. Eggs are visible to the naked eye you know. They are all of 100microns across whereas sperm are not so visible.

                      The extremely small number of people who are intersex or androgen insensitive or have chromosome abnormalities do not validate trans people. A lot of intersex people are understandably angry about trans people coopting them and telling the world about them in ignorance and not letting them have their voices. A bit like surrounding dissenting lesbians at Pride marches so they cannot be seen.

                      I have nothing against trans people. I do have a problem with the tactics of TRA’s and their denial of biological reality. I also have three sisters, two daughters and five nieces so I’m very concerned about safeguarding issues.

                      1. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        Re: Error Messages

                        1950s - I don't want my kids taught by blacks as they carry diseases and I'm concerned about my female relatives safety since black men rape white girls constantly

                        1980s I don't want my kids taught by gay men due to safeguarding issues and its unnatural anyway, they choose to be deviants

                        2000s - I don't like trans people asking for equal rights and there's nothing in nature that justifies them so I'll bleat about safeguarding issues. Reality is the most frequent sexual abusers are directly related to the victim and thats been proven multiple times over.

                        Bigotry the target changes but the claims never do.......

                        1. File Not Found

                          Re: Error Messages

                          Why has everybody starting saying ‘multiple’ when they mean ‘many’? Odd.

                        2. Anonymous Coward
                          Anonymous Coward

                          Re: Error Messages

                          As far as I'm concerned, it's not who delivers the message, but the message itself, that concerns me.

                      2. Olivier2553

                        Re: Error Messages

                        Transgenderism has nothing to do with biology or surgery, it's rather a matter of psychology. When a kid born with a penis, well bellow the age of sexual awareness show all the social traits of a girl, when a 10 years old boy tells you he wishes he was born a girl, it is not a tactic, nor a denial. The denial is refusing to hear what they are saying.

                        In Western world, I see there are two problems: transgenderism is associated with sexuality, while it is not, it appears way before the person shows any interest into sexuality, and there is the hate/activism social situation that makes the problem much conflictual. And their flamboyant desire to be seen as a woman may turn them into a caricature that many would not accept.

                        1. bish

                          Re: Error Messages

                          I could be wrong, but in my opinion, all of following statements can be true:

                          1) Father Ted was a very funny show.

                          2a) Graham Linehan's conduct on social media isn't always exemplary, and is often rather unpleasant.

                          2b) This can make it hard (for some) to appreciate his work.

                          3) As a (global) society, we're still a long way from adequately defining gender in any meaningful way.

                          4) Transgender people should not be oppressed.

                          5) Issues around transgender people and trans rights are incredibly complex, and the likelihood of such a tricky and sensitive set of arguments being resolved in a massively off topic BTL thread on El Reg is so vanishingly close to zero, any further discussion of the subject here is essentially pointless.

                          6) You (whoever is reading this) have every right to disagree with any and all of these statements.

                          7) My comment isn't an attempt to shutdown or censor debate, merely an attempt to point out that there are many other places on the Internet where one can shout at people with different opinions. This is not really one of those places: this is the comments section of a lighthearted article about an anonymous IT worker's confession to a couple of stupid mistakes.

                          1. Anonymous Coward
                            Anonymous Coward

                            Re: Error Messages

                            Kudos for your comment. I cannot separate Linehans views from the show. I won't support someone who preaches discrimination and tries to dress it up as "legitimate concern for the safety of women and children" particularly when said person led a hate campaign against a charity who work with trans kids. a campaign based on lies that were eagerly parroted by the media and cost that charity lottery funding due to his salacious and false accussations. The same type of claims that not too long ago were being uttered against homosexuals - that they were "corrupting children" "coercing quiet boys into homosexuality" "abusing kids through propaganda" "Gay rights activits are pushing an agenda onto innocent kids"

                            Just like my wife cannot separate the Mists of Avalon book series (which she used to love) from the Author Marion Zimmer Bradley, who with her husband perpetrated some incredibly heinous abuse on their own children.

                            1. Kiwi

                              Re: Error Messages

                              The same type of claims that not too long ago were being uttered against homosexuals - that they were "corrupting children" "coercing quiet boys into homosexuality" "abusing kids through propaganda" "Gay rights activits are pushing an agenda onto innocent kids"

                              Well they got at least some of that wrong.. I was a quiet boy, but believe me I didn't need any 'coercing'. Probably I was so quiet because I feared being noticed - already had enough abuse from those who thought I was different.

                              That said, I'm not exactly comfortable with the way boys who show effiminate traits or wish to 'experiment a bit' are still talked into believing they must be gay. Or the pressure of "If you haven't tried it how can you know you won't like it?" that has often been used (including by a younger stupider and much more selfish version of myself :( ).

                              Some people may be born gay, many are made gay (I count myself amongst that lot - largely by my own choices), some are totally straight but are pressured into being gay. Guy I knew had 4 sisters and no father, grew up on an arts farm. About as effeminate as you can get, yet 100% straight. People expected him to want to wear dresses and kept trying to put him in that box, but he wanted nothing to do with it.

                              Just like my wife cannot separate the Mists of Avalon book series (which she used to love) from the Author Marion Zimmer Bradley, who with her husband perpetrated some incredibly heinous abuse on their own children.

                              I learned this week who Anne Perry was (by "was" I mean who she was born as, not who she is now). She took part in a violent murder when she was a teenage girl. Some people are apparently upset to find out the subject of her books. What she did I won't defend, but I won't judge her on it as under the same circumstances I may have done the same or worse - I didn't live her life so I don't know what choices led to her issues. Knowing what she has done - the bad and the good - won't change how I view the work. What matters most to me is how she is living today, not what she did in the past.

                              People are people, and us people are generally capable of monstrous things with justifications that, to us, make it seem perfectly OK to behave in a certain way yet to others (or when times change) are quite bad. Some would say my parents loved me too much, others say not enough, but when I was a child what my parents "should" have done - under the mores of the day - is had me locked up in an asylum on the suspicion of being a poof. They didn't, but that was the right thing to do. The asylum would've rightfully given me electric shock treatments, massive amounts of psychoactive drugs, possibly even talked about a lobotomy or other alterations.

                              Today we have a very different view on what is right, yet many of the people who were behind those things honestly believed what they were doing was for the good of others. I don't defend or justify their actions, but I don't hold those actions against them where the training and literature of the day taught them to believe they were doing the best thing.

                              Look at the heart, not the deed.

                    4. Paul Greavy

                      Re: Error Messages

                      There is nothing in the article linked that supports your claim. If anything he sounds sensitive to the issue, has thought about it, and has contributed to the discussion. Nothing bigoted there at all.

                      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

                        Re: Error Messages

                        You forget that these days it seems that to ask a question is the equivalent of making a statement.

                        Weird, I know, but there it is.

          2. G_Axelsson

            Re: Error Messages

            Found when dumping a game rom cartridge from the 80:ies (Vectrex)

            "This space available, what the hell are you looking at!"

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Error Messages

        A tiny dinosaur just popped up waving a flag and a scrolling banner is reading "abandon ship, women and children first"

        Which was more or less a description of a "never supposed to happen" REAL error event in a very popular piece of software that did trigger.

    2. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: Error Messages


      I once was following up a mainframe bug report and saw a message on the terminal stating something very much like "if you reached this point you're fucked". The original coder was no longer working with us and, unfortunately, we had to agree with his statement...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Error Messages

        Mine usually ends up with "Error 999 : Something seriously f***ed up"

        1. Anonymous Custard

          Re: Error Messages

          Or "This cannot happen - please reboot reality..."

        2. David Haworth 1

          Re: Error Messages

          Re: Error 999 ...

          A long time ago I had to debug a relative of this error. "Error 999: unknown error caused by previous errors" in the compilation of a quite large pascal program. It was the only error in the compilation

          1. Stevie

            Re: Error Messages

            Written one Pascal program in me life.

            Prediction: Missing punctuation in long-time-previous statement.

            Reminds me of the time a new hire with the usual-for-these-days sneering attitude to COBOL and one whole semester of COBOL 101 under his belt came running to me in a panic with a sheet of greenbar with the line "TOO MANY ERRORS - COMPILATION ABANDONED" on it - the only output from the compilation of his first real COBOL program.

            I suggested he check that he had not mis-spelled "Procedure Division", and he was a bit snotty, so I told him to make *sure* the "O"s were all alpha and not zeroes.

            One quick check and exit one gobsmacked new hire.

            Rule Zero of COBOL: You only have to be able to spell about twenty words, and the rest you have to be able to mis-spell consistently. But you must spell those twenty (or so) exactly right or, in the words of Catweazle: "Nuthin' works!"

        3. ShadowDragon8685

          Re: Error Messages

          Shouldn't that be Error 666?

      2. macjules

        Re: Error Messages

        I used to place error report summary footer messages such as "You have arrived at Demon's Bottom. Please contact network". Later I would get the occasional, "there's a message with your name on it about something to do with Demons - what was that about?", to which the response was, "It means that they have reached an Impasse".

        Obviously they had never heard of Discworld.

        1. Mark 85

          Re: Error Messages

          My favorite dead-end error message: "Abandon all hope ye who enter here. Oops.. too late, you are here. Reboot now. " Don't know who put it in the code but he/she deserves a beer.

        2. Myvekk

          Re: Error Messages

          You could always have a redirect to the spot in Slice, in the upper Ramtops, "the place where the Sun does not shine."

      3. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: Error Messages

        A friend was using a database prog someone had written for the firm in house. He told of his amazement when an error message popped up saying "there is water on the C drive". Worried he phoned IT support who told him to stop making things up. He was encouraged to close and reopen the program and see if it came back. That error message didn't but a new one did minutes later:

        "The Hard Drive is on Fire."

        This time he sent a screenshot and they apologized. Somebody took the code apart and found some other fruity messages. The developer had quit some time before.

        1. Manolo

          Re: Error Messages

          Reminds me of:

          1. Lilolefrostback

            Re: Error Messages

            Yesterday (Friday) 30 minutes before the end of my work week, I received a support request from one of our departments. One of their computers had had a pop-up stating that the hard drive was reporting imminent failure. Since I support SOFTWARE not HARDWARE, I was a little peeved.

            When I read the full details of the request, I really did not know what to make of things. The pop-up had appeared more than a week prior. They had rebooted the computer and had been using it ever since. They were filing the request "for information purposes".

            I reassigned the request to the fellow who manages their hardware. I still really don't know how to respond to this, but I decided to leave my work phone at work this weekend (I'm under no obligation to carry it outside work hours).

        2. David Haworth 1

          Re: Error Messages

          "Water detected in drive A. Starting spin cycle" is an old MS-DOS joke program. I've probably got a copy of it lying around somewhere - if the floppy disk still works, that is.

          It was harmless - just made a vaguely washing-machine noise sound using the old one-bit internal speaker driver and then terminated.

      4. J. R. Hartley

        Re: Error Messages

        That's brilliant haha.

        When I worked as a service engineer for a scale company, I used to have cause to write "Failed Under Calibration, Known Error Detected."

        Nobody ever caught on. I think.

        Later when I worked for a VoIP telecoms company I sometimes wrote "Total Inability To Support Users Phones."

        Nobody reads engineer notes apparently.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Error Messages

      Colleagues of mine, who will remain anonymous, once let "OutOfCheeseError" escape into the wild.

      1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

        Re: Error Messages

        A while back a favourite among certain colleagues were errors of the form "X blows goats" (X being another colleague) - luckily these were for internal use only.

        There were also booleans called things like "FatLadyHasSung" and "CowsComeHome".

        1. Alien8n

          Re: Error Messages

          A lot of my SQL code contains lines such as "Count(*) as Dracula" and "Sum(X) as OfAllFears"

          1. Myvekk

            Re: Error Messages

            And yet I still heard that in a voice as if it said, "Count(*) as Muppet"...

            1. Alien8n

              Re: Error Messages

              Surely then it would be Count(*) as Ahahahahaha

            2. Alien8n

              Re: Error Messages

              I've now added to my repertoire of select statements the following

              Select MAX([Field]) AS Headroom

            3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              Re: Error Messages

              He's not a proper muppet, he doesn't count.

              Yes he does:

              One... ahahahaha

              Two... ahahahaha


        2. MiguelC Silver badge

          Re: Error Messages

          The problem with internal use errors is that they tend to get to the outside world... if there's a 1 in a million chance of it happening, it'll happen 9 times out of 10!

          1. Alien8n

            Re: Error Messages

            @MiguelC you clearly need to get more bugs into it.

        3. hmv

          Re: Error Messages

          Whilst learning Python (I'm not sure I've finished), I was quite fond of :-


          raise hell


          But I suppose everyone else was too.

        4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Error Messages

          There were also booleans called things like "FatLadyHasSung" and "CowsComeHome".

          HellFreezesOver was one of mine.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Error Messages

        Your colleagues cost me a keyboard when that error tripped. It was the day I learned not to be drinking coffee whilst typing.

    4. PahboPaul

      Re: Error Messages

      Reminds me of "spank spank naughty programmer" from EFL:

    5. J27

      Re: Error Messages

      Why bother doing everything twice? You're making work for yourself.

    6. JohnFen

      Re: Error Messages

      "there was always the odd 1 or 2 that are missed..."


      That's why I always use the traditional "foo", "bar", "baz", ... sequence instead.

  3. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

    My default is along the lines of "this should never have happened knakdjdj" (last bit random keyboard bashing to facilitate searching the source)

    But then I try to make allowances for null values too, so it hardly ever comes up...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If it was vbscript, with onerror resume next, and someone modified function3 (which doesn't have resume next) to dim a variable that already existed in the global space, then the next it resumed on would be the else, which would then call the message box... ask me how I know.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
      Big Brother


      please come in , your time is up ...

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      It looks more like Javascript and I imagine that "a" isn't numeric and therefore fails all three numerical comparisons.

  5. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik

    To be honest - trying to account for all the states is a good thing - that way if something does happen to trigger an completely unknown state - you know something odd is happening somewhere.

  6. petethebloke

    Go and have a barBQ

    A few years ago I used PHP's mail() function to send a message from the CEO to a few lucky people telling them that it was a lovely day and they could take the afternoon off to enjoy the sunshine and cook up a barbie. One of the idiots replied to him to say thanks very much. I still blame him for the tightening-up on office banter.

    1. baud

      Re: Go and have a barBQ

      When using mail(), it might have been possible to also change the reply-to field, no? Or did I remember wrong which options are available?

      1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

        Re: Go and have a barBQ

        Reply-To is just a header in the email. You can include whatever headers you like. in the $additional_headers parameter.

        Envelope-from (as opposed to the From field) is more tricky, but can be achieved if needed.

      2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Go and have a barBQ

        Someone will do a "Reply to all" when that's not necessary. This is inevitable. I've learned more about my colleagues' private business that way than face-to-face. ;-)

        1. Roq D. Kasba

          Re: Go and have a barBQ

          I love those emails shortly followed by recall requests

      3. Tom 7

        Re: Go and have a barBQ

        Bill Gates used to send a lot of mail to colleagues at one place I worked.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Go and have a barBQ

      I can understand the CEO getting upset if you worked for Mattel at the time.

    3. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: Go and have a barBQ

      We had so much fun spoofing email senders and even fax numbers...

      1) we sent an email purporting to be from a PFY who had called in sick to his manager, with an "X-ray" attached proving is sickness (it was a fake x-ray of a penis, showing a broken bone - NSFW, but those where other times)

      2) another time we sent a fax to the office's fax machine faking the sender to be a dance school and confirming a colleagues ballet classes booking (he was something of a macho bully - we laughed about that one for months, everyone pretending to believe our colleague really had booked it).

  7. Lee D Silver badge

    if a > 0 then


    elseif a < 0 then


    elseif a == 0 then



    MsgBox('Go hit Edward in the head');

    Please tell me he wasn't doing this on a VB "Variant" or anything else that could potentially turn into a float?

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      i think vb variables can change on the fly if you dont strap them down.

      in vbs ive had to add zero to a variable to make the stupid bastard realise its an integer not a string.

      1. Nick Kew

        Please report for Diversity Awareness re-education.

        If it identifies as a string, who are you to oppress it?

    2. ColinPa

      getting to an impossible to reach else clause

      This can also be caused by a naive programmer programming in a sophisticated multi tasking application where the variable a can be changed under the covers by another thread

      We had some code a long the lines of


      a = b

      do some work

      if (a != b)


      do something

      goto here.


      b was incremented by another task when an event happened.

      Someone went through all of the code, and deleted the "redundant code" in the "if (a!=b){...}"

      it was the same guy who optimized

      z = (a-b) + (c-b) to

      z = a+c -2c

      and occasionally a+c overflowed a full word giving the wrong result.

      1. Baldrickk

        Re: getting to an impossible to reach else clause

        z = (a-b) + (c-b) to

        z = a+c -2c

        you have more problems than the overflow...

        z = a + c - 2*b

        But yes, we do have to remember sometimes that programming isn't math.

      2. Nick Kew

        Re: getting to an impossible to reach else clause

        That was some guy? Isn't it usually a compiler that optimises that kind of thing?

    3. Richard Tobin

      Easy enough to replicate in C (sorry, I don't know how to make it come out in a reasonable format here):

      #include <stdio.h>

      int main(void)


      double nan = 1.0/0.0 - 1.0/0.0;

      if(nan > 0)


      else if(nan < 0)


      else if(nan == 0)





      1. Wilseus

        #include <stdio.h>

        int main(void)


        double nan = 1.0/0.0 - 1.0/0.0;

        if(nan > 0) printf("greater\n");

        else if(nan < 0) printf("less\n");

        else if(nan == 0) printf("equal\n");

        else printf("aaargh\n");


        It turns out that different systems handle things like this in subtly different ways, especially when comparing NaNs with other NaNs, + and - Inf etc

        It's not much fun debugging OpenCL conformance code with a deadline hanging round your neck I can tell you.

        1. cyberdemon Silver badge

          I had expected NaN to be a problem, too..

          It is in Ruby, for example:

          cyberdemon:~$ irb

          irb(main):001:0> a = Float::NAN

          => NaN

          irb(main):002:0> a > 0

          => false

          irb(main):003:0> a < 0

          => false

          irb(main):004:0> a == 0

          => false

        2. Anomalous Cowturd

          > It turns out that different systems handle things like this in subtly different ways, especially when comparing NaNs with other NaNs, + and - Inf etc

          My Nan is better than your Nan. My Grand-dad told me so.

    4. bpfh

      Variant, or just good old null...

  8. trevorde Silver badge

    Menu names

    One product I worked on had a 'hidden' menu where we used to put new features. Product definition would eventually work out what to call it and where it would live in the product. In the meantime, QA would be able to get in some early testing. One of my friends added a new feature to this menu and notified QA that it was ready for some exploratory testing. He then got a lot of questions along the lines of: "Simon, what is a 'choad'?"

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Menu names

      you made me google that at work!!

    2. BrownishMonstr

      Re: Menu names

      He sounds like a fucker

  9. OssianScotland

    Message Boxes

    While writing a VBA/Excel application some years ago, I labelled various error message boxes as "Spanish Inquisition" (because I - and no-one - expected them to appear). This was for development purposes, and I firmly intended to change that in the live version...

    … some time later, after a separate change in the application made them much more likely, I kept getting puzzled emails.

    Icon - obviously Drake, or possibly Sir Richard Grenville

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      Re: Message Boxes

      I guess that nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition?!?

      1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

        Re: Message Boxes

        Hmmm. I believe I may have attracted the attention of some griefers who have decided to downvote everything I post. Perhaps they think they're going to make me cry or something.

        1. Alister

          Re: Message Boxes

          Possibly the downvotes were for restating the bleeding obvious?

        2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: Message Boxes

          No, you simply restated something that the poster you replied to had already highlighted, vis "(because I - and no-one - expected them to appear)"

          1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

            Re: Message Boxes

            Good point! Well presented!

            I think I must have been at peak caffeine when I read the OP, and my brain didn’t take it in properly.

        3. J. R. Hartley

          Re: Message Boxes


          The first rule of downvotes...

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon

            Re: Message Boxes

            is the same as the second..have a d/v :P

  10. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

    Ahhh, innocence lost.

  11. OssianScotland

    April Fool

    A colleague SysAdmin once went to a lot of trouble to

    a) screenshot users desktops

    b) deploy a new group policy to

    i) Hide all desktop icons

    ii) minimise the taskbar

    iii) Replace background with screenshot

    Deployed for April 1st, with a handy script to undo it all.

    The scary thing was that no calls came in for a couple of hours!

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: April Fool

      That was one of the things we used to do to newbies (or recalcitrants) who left their desktops unlocked (among other pranks, like turning the screen upside down or changing the color scheme, we tried to innovate)

      Everyone quickly learned to properly lock their stations :)

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: April Fool

        among other pranks, like turning the screen upside down

        combine the 2! - screenshot , turn image upside down , then turn screen upside down!

        (credit to some Reg reader last week for that one ... )

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: April Fool

        Everyone quickly learned to properly lock their stations :)

        ive automated it!

        quick script , accepts machine name as argument.


        "set oShell = WScript.CreateObject (""WScript.Shell"")"

        objFile.Write VBCRLF&"oShell.SendKeys ""^%{DOWN}"""

        into a text file (aussierules.vbs) on the victims pc in system32.

        Then hits it with psexec

        "psexec \\"&target&" -s -i -d wscript.exe aussierules.vbs"

        then deletes the evidence


        (note: needs to be a machine using that intel video chipset that flips the screen with a alt-downkey .i.e most Dell machines)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: April Fool

          (and remotified it , i should add)

        2. el_oscuro

          Re: April Fool

          I once write a little program which picked a random number and displayed an unlabeled error dialog box with the corresponding NT error message. Set it to run in the background and pop up randomly. There is nothing like getting a message like "The control blocks have been destroyed" out of nowhere.

      3. Daytona955

        Re: April Fool

        Much more fun in the old days with CRT monitors - take the back off, reverse the connections to the vertical field coil. Or the horizontal. Or both...

        Boring flatscreens. No fun.

      4. J. R. Hartley

        Re: April Fool

        If someone left their computer unlocked we used to send emails to the boss from their account. Pretty harsh but it was a different era. And it worked.

    2. Steven Raith

      Re: April Fool

      Similar story, but beforehand we (me as tech, our network op and our sysadmin) had managed to fake a call from The XFactor to get a particularly annoying colleague to 'audition' down the phone.

      Changed the startup background to a picture of them, and the startup sound to the worst part of their audition.

      They were not impressed.

      Everyone else found it hilarious. They really were a bit of a prick.

      Steven R

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: April Fool

      Something similar.

      Screenshot set as screen saver background, with the swirly blackhole animation.

      Boss was convinced a virus was eating her desktop.

    4. mr_souter_Working

      Re: April Fool

      set desktop background to be screenshot of desktop (bonus points for rotating image and desktop to random direction), hide all icons, move taskbar to top or side and set to hide, set screensaver to be screenshot - and set time to 1s (or lower)

      have also set power saving options to 1s - and require password when unlocking - while simultaneously disabling the mouse, and often the entire USB hub, in device manager.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: April Fool

        So you're the sod who keeps setting the BitLocker timeout to <10s, so it shuts down before I've noticed the machine is awake and typed more than a couple of characters!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its even happens in Mainframe OS's

    In IBM's VM O/s the helpful message 'there is an error in your program, correct the error and re-run the program'

    No Diagnostic dump, nothing in the system logs, pity it was the install program for a new Front end processor

    ICL VME had an unmasked error message of 80080 STD Table Full

    This would have profited from telling the user to call ICL but even more so if it had given us the table name.

    Getting to the root cause required a full diagnostic dump of the mainframe and some detailed stack analysis. In the end most problems were fixed by one of 3 patches so we would check if they were applied before asking for further evidence

    My favourite though was found by a colleague with a dump. It was masked from the user as the system had crashed

    'I don't know how I got in here and I'm running at ACR2 so I think I better crash the mainframe'

    ACR2 was the security ring just above the kernel so was probably dealing with writing to none CPU hardware (disk controller pr comms controller probably)

    He insisted on bringing the line printer dump to my desk to show me the error message and explaining the intricate list of interrupts and stack switches he had to trace to get there - the wierdo

    Guess who found himself giggling about the idiocy of one of the O/S dev's who had inadvertently put a disk drive into long term error recovery over a failed connection to a front end processor, oh the number of VM's I'd had to walk through to get to the root cause. I'd spent a couple of days wading through that dump as it was a large mainframe running over 100 Virtual Machines. The System dump was actually 32 boxes of paper so I built a fort around my desk.

    1. Dwarf

      Re: Its even happens in Mainframe OS's

      I remember in a previous life having to produce the hardware and software for a PC that allowed different systems that had printer ports to be interfaced so that we could capture printed output direct to disk, rather than into reams of paper. This connected to various things with Centronics parallel ports, RS232 serial ports and a mainframe printer port, so we had to do the inevitable character set mapping from EBCDIC to ASCII.

      We very quickly became popular with our customers as we shipped them CD's and DVD's rather than truck loads of dead tree. This also made searching and processing the printed data far simpler and faster and made the working environment a heck of a lot quieter without all the printers buzzing away.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Give me work or else

    I told me boss, at a new job, that they needed to give me work, else I get bored and start playing tricks. 3 months go by and still no meaningful work, so I put a macro in the team performance dashboard so that when the boss opens it, an error message says 'Help, I'm shrinking!'. Any time they click Ok, Cancel or click the X, the excel window would get smaller and smaller.

    Months go by, and then from across the room comes 'That's not a standard excel error message!?' So I go over to offer to help, I suggest he searches through google for that error message, all whilst trying to keep a straight face.

    A few more such pranks, getting more and more out of hand, and eventually they twig to make sure I'm always kept busy with work!

  14. error 13

    first every job, DOS era and a Novell Netware server. It was a common mistake when you were in a hurry and to type

    f and hit enter instead of f:in order to switch drives . I helpfully wrote a batch file in the public directory so in the search path for everyone called f.bat that consisted of vaguely

    @echo off


    echo I bet you meant to type F: you @**&*& idiot.

    Luckily the client watching over the salesman's shoulder found it amusing. The batch file remained, but the sarcasm sadly had to go

  15. Absolute Cynic

    Error message

    My first job after college was maintaining a suite of programs written in interpreted BASIC. The standard error handler was to put in a line with a division by zero. The customer would see an 'arithmetic error at line nnnnn' and phone in. We would then get them to print out the values of various variables and work out from the code what the problem was, reset a variable and then GOTO a line to restart the program.

  16. Jaspa

    Its Friday, take the easy option

    Install the BSoD screensaver.

    And a candudte for the best error massage ever goes to nobulatiom fail ...

    1. Twist Rolarian

      Re: Its Friday, take the easy option

      We saw the Failed to Nobulate error when I was doing phone support (we all pay our dues) for a popular OEM back when Win7 was new. It was showing up on fresh images both on the recovery disk and on factory imaged hard drives. It took R&D about 3 weeks to determine that it was a corrupted file in the boot loader of the original image that they make all the copies from.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Widows sounds

    Back in the heady days of Windows 3.2 I recall 'a colleague' editing a victims INI files to associate a sound with every windows action (open, close, minimise, maximise, gain focus, lose focus...). What larks!

    Fortunately it was a short lived sound (basically blowing a raspberry) - I thought it was an original idea but I did read later that it had been done before with the (much longer) fake orgasm sounds from "When Harry met Sally" which would have been much more fun as in the Windows 3 era it would wait until the whole sound clip had played before accepting the next input.

    1. Andytug

      Re: Widows sounds

      That's in a Dilbert book (Revenge at Work or something like that) - they assigned the When Harry Met Sally sound to every single possible event in the sound setup and cranked to volume to full. Took over an hour to get it to stop IIRC....

      1. J. R. Hartley

        Re: Widows sounds

        "That's in a Dilbert book (Revenge at Work or something like that) - they assigned the When Harry Met Sally sound to every single possible event in the sound setup and cranked to volume to full. Took over an hour to get it to stop IIRC...."

        I fucking lolled at that.

      2. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Re: Widows sounds

        In my day it was a sound-byte at full volume..

        "HEY, WE'RE LOOKING AT PORN OVER HERE" - closely followed by a stampede to the users desk :)

    2. MrMerrymaker

      Re: Widows sounds

      I remember about ten years ago some prank video series who replaced the laptop lid closing jingle with a WAV consisting of a woman moaning and grumbling, interspersed with sheep Baas and a Moo

      Was most entertaining as the mark suffering was in his University library at the time of discovery

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Widows sounds is still good to find your IP address!

  18. Andytug

    Good old Novell Networks....

    ...allowed for the sending of IM's to people. Didn't get used very often, except for a couple of the PFYs to annoy each other. One day this was occurring, so one PFY logged off to (he thought) put a stop to it.

    Unfortunately the IMs are based on user IDs assigned at login, and when someone logs off that ID can be assigned to the next user that logs in.

    So ……..that was why a senior manager called up to ask why his PC has a message in the middle of the screen saying "STOP IT!!!!".

    Could have been a lot worse though!

  19. Captain Scarlet

    I think you all missed out

    All my errors prompt IT needs to be informed and then open a browser to the Domino's website (Other Take-Aways are available)

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Colour coded for a reason....

    20-odd years ago when I worked for a large (Canadian) telecoms company, a colleague had looped a cable tie through the centre of the coiled base-to-handset cable of my phone, so when he rang me and I picked up (he was a couple of cubicles away) the phone phone came with it. Oh how I laughed, especially as it sent my morning coffee flying across the desk as well.

    As revenge, I went and swapped the green & purple PS/2 connectors for his keyboard & mouse (a Gateway P75 IIRC) so neither his keyboard and mouse would work. I was intending to watch him when he got back....however I got an emergency call to the shop floor, left before he returned from his smoke break and forgot all about it....

    .....4 hours later I return to my desk and as I walk past his cubicle I get that cold rush of blood leaving my body as I see an IT Bod in there.....I overhear "Must be the motherboard, I'll take this machine away and bring you another one".......

    ....Did I confess? Eventually - after we'd both left the company a year later when it started hemorrhaging jobs.

    1. irrelevant

      Re: Colour coded for a reason....

      1982 or thereabouts. I was a lowly apprentice at Ferranti,with too much time on my hands. Worked out that if you covered one of the pins in the new-fangled BT modular jacks with sticky tape, then when the phone rang, and was answered, it not only didn't answer, but kept on ringing!

      Even more fun than just swapping over handsets between nearby phones.

      1. Kiwi

        Re: Colour coded for a reason....

        Worked out that if you covered one of the pins in the new-fangled BT modular jacks with sticky tape, then when the phone rang, and was answered, it not only didn't answer, but kept on ringing!M

        I used to do something like that - but with the phase pin of various extension leads or power leads.

        The leads always seemed to work perfectly for me, but for the boss it'd never work. Carefully trim it right and the tape becomes quite invisible unless you look close enough.

      2. Stevie

        Re: Colour coded for a reason....

        Again, overthinking. Achieved same thing with strip of masking tape and a sharpie-drawn dot.

        Much fun watching the callee beat up his phone when it would not stop ringing at him. At one point he put the receiver on his desk and pummeled the phone base for all the world like a giant cat playing with a ping-pong ball.

    2. Stevie

      Re: Colour coded for a reason....

      Overthinking phone shenanigans.

      I wanted to get a colleague so I stuck masking tape on the earpiece and put little dots on it with a sharpie. Absolutely obvious but who really looks at a phone handset?

      He twigged when I melted down with laughter during his attempt to ascertain whether or not a phone engineer was on-site to repair his phone yet with the secretary who sat on the other side of his cube partition, about ten feet away. He could literally have stood up and held a conversation in a quiet voice with the lady.

      You see, he assumed because he could not hear anyone clearly, *they* could not hear him. He would strain to hear the screaming person at the other end of the call, then deafen them by yelling his response at the top of his voice.

      That call went like this:


      Unseen Shrill Lady about 10 feet away: "NO NOT YET!"


      (catches sight of me doubled over in my chair, crying, biting hand, in serious danger of pissing pants)

      ... UNLESS!!!

      I swear as he held he handset at arms length and glared at it his eyes did that Roger Rabbit "awooga!" thing where they come out of the sockets and go back in. Of course, I was suffering acute oxygen starvation by then on account of not wanting to give the game away by laughing out loud.

      A couple of weeks later I decided to see what it must have looked like on the other end of his calls so I put tape over the mouthpiece and drew more dots with the sharpie. Yup. Half a day of screaming into his phone and then holding it as far away from his head as he could when they screamed back.

      This was the same bloke from the "Unisys messaging subsystem 'ambush reversed' revenge ploy" I wrote of a while ago.

  21. Jimbali

    April fatwa

    One year I was working at a company where one of our biggest clients' websites had been hacked over Christmas, and the boss had been trying for months to make sure that it was properly locked down, but somehow they kept breaking in. Joomla may have been to blame. So, on April Fool's Day I waited until my line manager had gone to a meeting, and then when he left his computer (uncharacteristically) unlocked, I changed his hosts file so that when he went to that website, it instead presented to him a page that I had made, with a black skull and crossbones and loads of arabic lorem ipsum text. I then showed him my screen and said "umm, have you seen this page today'. He rushed to his own machine and entered the URL only to see the same evil-looking page. He almost had a cardiac arrest in the 10 seconds before I fessed up! xD

  22. TeeCee Gold badge

    My favourite.

    An extraordinarily complex data entry screen (5250 block) with tens of entry fields, most of which are validated against reference data and/or for consistency with each other.

    Any errors made in entry results in the fields in error being highlighted and scrollable errors on the bottom line of the screen to tell the user what's up.

    Ring, Ring. It's an operator with a user problem to put through to the heavy mob.

    N00b user: "My screen's locked up!"

    After trying all the usual: "Ok, what's on the screen?"

    "I'd rather not say....". Curious.

    "What's the screen number in the top left hand corner?".

    "There isn't one.". Curiouser. We pull up the job status and it's stuck on a screen number which, let's say, fails to follow convention. As we can't be arsed to pull up the DDS to look at it, one of us waffles off to the user's desk to see what's there. He returns in fits of giggles.

    Say hello to a fun present left by an ex-colleague. Turns out that if every entered field is invalid for one reason or another, rather than highlighting the lot and chucking a load of errors, the program changes screen. A blank screen with all inputs locked displaying, in inverse-video spaces and blinking, the word "BOLLOCKS".

  23. Lee D Silver badge

    I did upside-down-ternet once, and another year I grayscaled everything.

    Basically, we had a global proxy anyway, so I just pointed it to another that whenever it was asked to retrieve/cache an image, it would throw it through imagemagick to turn it upside-down or whatever you wanted. Happened transparently, so it took people a little while to notice, but it was quite fun.

    I've also got a batch file called "Fix <vendors> mess of a report server" on the desktop of one of the servers, that basically kills and restarts all the processes that hang up. I introduced that one to them in a technical meeting that we agree to host on our site for said vendor. 80% of the people there asked me for a copy of that script... but they never took the hint and fixed the damn thing.

    And I often replace the executable from any program that's going to be obsolete with one of my own (usually just a quick MinGW thing). Quite literally just displays "This software is going to stop working next month... stop using it and use the new version instead", with a link to the new version (but also runs the old version just in case there is a problem).

  24. heyrick Silver badge

    Guy I used to know...

    ...was a bit of a perv, so his "temporary" error messages were of the form:



    As expected, some of this stuff got out into the wild. Thankfully it was the early '90s so people didn't freak out. They just tutted sternly over the telephone and then forcefully hung up.

    1. Kiwi

      Re: Guy I used to know...

      They just tutted sternly over the telephone and then forcefully hung up.

      One of the many dying arts in this modern world. I only know one person today who has a "proper" phone, and only a handful who have and use a landline.

      There is an alternative to the old-style of slamming a phone down, but it can get expensive as it tends to destroy the cellphone thrown violently against the wall.

      (Not that I've lost a any phones in this manner.... :) )

  25. Sgt_Oddball

    That code..

    There's a reason I remind other devs that a boolean has 3 States (or 2 if you count from 0).

    True, false and nothing....

    You know... Basic stuff.

    Mines the one wrapping the VB6 coding manual.

    1. Herby

      Re: That code..


      The PROPER three states of a Boolean are:

      True, False, and "File not found".

      Everybody knows that!

    2. GrahamRJ

      Re: That code..

      Actually it has at least 256 states in C. Some platforms/compilers store a boolean in a single byte, whereas others use an int. If something else happens to stomp your memory, or if the stored data you're loading is corrupt in interesting ways, then your code may run into this.

      This becomes interesting if a coder naively checks "if (flag == TRUE)" and "if (flag == FALSE)", because a corrupted flag won't satisfy either condition. I have actually seen this happen, and the result for code which dropped through without following either path was not pretty. Thereafter, our coding standard was to *always" use "if (flag)" and "if (!flag)", on the grounds that even if data got corrupted, the code would still do something sensible and internally-valid.

      Amusingly, Ford Motor Company had the same kind of experience. With the inevitable design-by-committee idiocy of a large company where the people setting the coding standards don't actually have to write code, they mandated that if you wanted to check for a flag being true, the code had to say "if (flag != FALSE)". *facepalm*

  26. e^iπ+1=0

    Who Me?


  27. e^iπ+1=0

    Who Me?

    Surely this doesn't belong in On Call, it should be Who Me?

  28. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Error message

    I used to work on aircraft automated test equipment (ATE). Shop floor stuff to test various subsystem functions before rollout. We had one logic untrapped logic branch that gave the operators fits, as it just crashed the system. So I was called in to provide a simple message to alleviate their angst. The ATE I was working with had a voice synthesizer in addition to display screens, so some of the mechanics wearing headsets could be warned of upcoming flight control surface movements commanded by the software. So in addition to the screen message, the synthesizer would say, "I'm sorry Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that."

  29. Admiral Grace Hopper

    The universal else case

    Even when I am sure that I have handled very foreseeable error, I always caught the unexpected. I was once so sure that I had handled very possible error and there was no room for anything else to leak through, so catch-all error message was particularly baroque. It began, “If you see this message, run to the hills and prepare to make peace with your make. The last seal has been broken and this is the first sign of the End Of Days”. It went for a long while before ending with an ASCII (well, EBCDIC) art Beelezebub. There were no easy graphics in the mainframe days.

    Complied, tested, released, forgotten. For ten years, until a worried colleague arrived clutching a piece of green and white music-ruled fanfold paper. “Yours was the only name in the amendment history. It put this into the journal”, and there was my message, printed in all its glory.

    Turned out the error codes for a dropped sector in the removable discs weren’t documented. One more value test and my error message became less likely, but it’s still there, lurking.

  30. Herby

    Finding error messages...

    The 'strings' command is your friend. One can find ALL sorts of stuff about a program with this. Much like spelunking in an unknown cave.

  31. swm

    Bank fun

    My father had a friend who worked for a bank and noticed that the deposits were entered before the withdrawals. So he opened up an account and wrote a $1,000,000 check on it and deposited it to the same account. It credited the account with $1,000,000 and then deducted the value of the check leaving $0. The anti float software caught him and the bank manager said, "We don do that sort of thing here."

  32. swm

    At the university of Rochester they installed a digital phone system for the students. It had the capability of forwarding messages. So the students somehow managed to create a chain of forwarded messages about 3 hours long and kept forwarding it to all of their friends. It was impossible to delete the message until you listened to the whole thing.

    The university finally had to get a master password from the manufacturer to delete the mess.

  33. Unoriginal Handle

    One particularly irksome colleague in a job far far away played golf on his work PC on a regular basis.

    Someone (who, me?) added a "golf.bat" and changed precedence so it ran before the or gold.exe, whichever it was.

    The golf.bat said something like "you're playing games in work time, your hard disk will be deleted", then paused for a moment and ran chkdsk /f in silent mode.

    Time from starting playing golf to punching the power button - about 2 seconds, perhaps less.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ! In the early 90s our firm invested in 25MHz 486 PCs running windows 3.0, and only the real IT contractors and specialist beancounters were allowed access to the Windows desktop (everyone else had simple number based menus). One specialist beancounter decided to teach another a lesson by scrambling their Windows GUI desktop (move/change/rename icons, superimpose them into stacks) and then set up the result as the victim's wallpaper after putting everything right.

    Obviously the lesson didn't work so the uncorrrected desktop (all disc drives with same drive letter, every icon image the same, everything stacked up on top of each other) was left early one morning when beancounter1 had an alibi. Result? Pandemonium in the department as the data on the office servers was deleted /renamed by beancounter2 who assumed the 'spare' icons and everything to do with them were superfluous. One floor of city building lost about an employee- day's work (and some individuals much more) whilst everything was restored from the old 3.5 in discs accidentally retained in office safes without the it contractors' knowledge. Only the last fact saved serious departmental bloodletting. I was an accidental observer to the saga, but ended up subsequently dumping the 3.5 in discs in hot water filled sink to ensure their destruction - by order.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge


      Years 'n' years ago, I set up a small suite of PCs, and as they were being used by dozens of different people, all sharing the same logon, they were set up with the environment fairly locked down, specifically, the desktop layout was rebuilt from scratch on startup.

      The bloody idiots insisted on saving files on the desktop, and raised hell that they weren't there next time they used the machines. I disabled the rebuild-at-startup and a few days later was passing and noticed all the machines had their desktops covered in *everybody's* crap. I have come to believe that some people are just simply missing the bit of brain that allows you to notice the existence of other people using shared resources.

  35. Unicornpiss

    A classic..

    Saw this on a Windows machine. Someone had taken a screenshot of the user's desktop, set it as the background, then set Windows to hide all icons. Took me a few minutes of head scratching to figure out what had been done.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How we all laughed in the office when Jones & Smith from accounts were given a joke Christmas cracker that had the snapper replaced by an April Fools stick of dynamite.

    They also laughed too after their new prosthetic hands had been fitted by those wonderful NHS staff and completed months in physiotherapy.

  37. 5p0ng3b0b

    He who laughs last....

    Back in the day, a certain mac user would often use colons and slashes in his filenames despite being given stern advice not to do so causing me server headaches. I wrote a simple applescript to shut down and would copy it to his startup folder at lunchtime each time he offended, thus causing him to spend the next morning reinstalling the os and software. When he left, I printed out a 100 quids worh of M&S vouchers on a colour laser printer (about 20 grands worth of kit back then) and put them in his leaving card. He was so overwhelmed by the generosity, he bought a couple of rounds that lunchtime.

  38. DustyP

    Back in the '70s I worked for a well known Photographic manufacturer.

    We had recently been issued with internal phones with buttons instead of dials.

    After hours, I undid the case of a colleague's phone and swapped the buttons so that instead of being in phone order (1234567890), they instead were ordered in calculator order (7894561230). It took him days to work out why he was dialling wrong numbers, but when he did, he wrote in the number he expected.

    That evening, I swapped them over again and he continued to get wrong numbers.

    It stayed that way until I was fired the following year.

  39. Timmy B

    Our standard cop-out used to be:

    "An architecture fault has caused an overflow in the upper mantissa. Please re-start and try again.".

    Technical enough that your average user would know no different and just do what they were told. But otherwise total garbage that meant nothing.

  40. mithrenithil

    A decent April's Fools...

    Rarely have I ever seen a decent April's Fools when associated with a business. Ones that come to mind is Google's Pokemon map and Band-Maid's Band-Maiko.

    These don't harm the brand and raise awareness. With Band-Maiko they actually produced and sold a couple of amazing singles and videos around it.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Error messages

    In some of my programs, I've used error messages like

    "Internal operation error" - someone has a restricted copy of a beta version they shouldn't have.

    "Invalid hardware division" - the beta version had expired.

    "Invalid system date" - someone turned the clock back trying to run the software after the expiration period ran out.

    Then there was always the various "Reserved error X" messages that pointed out other shenanigans folks attempted to do with the software. They were always quite surprised when the techs told them exactly what they had done to cause the message to be displayed. It was quite fun getting support requests for these particular error messages :)

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