back to article Hungry? Please enjoy this delicious NaN, courtesy of British Gas and Sainsbury's

Welcome to another in our series of systems suffering from iffy coding or dirty data in the form of a Bork left hanging out for all to see. NaN's the word this time around, after a Register reader found himself confronted with a decidedly dodgy British Gas account balance after persuading the utility's system to allow the …

  1. cipnt

    To see such errors on some smb wordpress site or digital advertising panel in a bus stop is one thing, but to see them in utility and stock management software is seriously worrying. Who knows what else have they rushed through testing like that?

    1. DJV Silver badge

      It's when you see the "Divide By Cucumber Error. Please Reinstall Universe And Reboot" message that you REALLY need to start worrying!

      1. macjules

        Or, in Sainsbury's case, you probably do not want to see an "Out of cheese error"

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        typo there

        Please Reinstall Universe And beetroot.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Who knows what else have they rushed through testing like that?

      What is this 'testing' of which you speak?

      It's not fun, shiny and (fr)agile so why bother? That's what your customers are for.

  2. ciaran

    Salesforce upload attachment progress bar has a lot of decimal digits

    Just this morming I uploaded a document to salesforce to attach it to a case, and I marveled at the % completion information Somethng like "69.123456789%", if not more digits.

    A few years ago I took a photo of a price in the supermarket saying the price per kilo was 123.666666666667 euros.

    Total bork!

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: Salesforce upload attachment progress bar has a lot of decimal digits

      I still smile at my WD elements drive, connected to a WD MyCloud NAS box on my network.

      Every time my mouse rolls over their system tray app, it reports that the drive is 217% full. Now that's what I call data compression...

    2. Mike 16

      Re: Salesforce upload attachment progress bar has a lot of decimal digits

      Clearly, they put Spock in charge, while he was time-travel slumming in whatever that movie was.

      Meanwhile, those who are fans of floating point and/or absurdity might want to watch

      this talk, (about 10 minutes) about the Secret Life of Not-A-Number:

  3. tin 2

    “and occurs when the meter is unable to process a reading to secure an outstanding balance”

    Except of course that isn't what happened here at all. Cockup followed up by cockup. Which is to be expected.

    1. UCAP Silver badge

      Its British Gas. I never expected less, and am surprised that there is not more.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Its British Gas. I never expected less, and am surprised that there is not more.

        Oh there is, soooo much more - you have no idea. Their website is a clusterfuck of epic precautions - the login process is painful enough and it just gets worse from there.

        The British Gas website pretty much sums up everything that is wrong with modern software 'development', to whit: spaghetti coding: chuck stuff at the wall and keep the stuff that sticks, irrespective of whether it works or not[*].

        Is $FRAMEWORK or $METHODOLOGY new and shiny? If so, crowbar it in there and fuck the consequences - form triumphs over function eleven times out of ten.

        Why pay for QA/testing when your long-suffering customers will do all of that for free.

        [*] - I would say that the Hive website was the Ur-example of this, but it seems to have settled down a bit of late, both in terms of 'style' and stability.

  4. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    Angel delight...

    Many moons ago I had a summer job working to support the preparations for a round the world yacht race. Part of the victualling for the yachts was providing them with catering sized packs of Angel delight. Once the race got underway I managed to snaffle a couple of spares to keep me going once back at Uni.

    I did eventually manage to eat my way through it but with the downside that I've not ever been able to face it since.

  5. Robert Grant Silver badge

    Out of cheese error

    Might actually just be an advanced stock control system.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Out of cheese error

      "That can't be happening Grommit!"

  6. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    A shame, because an alternative pud option, butterscotch Angel Delight, is a thing of glory (although we're slightly concerned that happy childhood memories of decades ago might be sullied by the adult experience of today).

    Last year I was shopping in my local supermarket and noticed that Angel Delight is still a thing, so bought a packet out of nostalgic curiosity. I'm happy to confirm that time hasn't dulled the culinary experience, although as an adult I'm more aware of how many unnatural ingredients I was consuming and how it probably wasn't that healthy a thing to do. Childhood was a far happier time, when I could eat pretty much anything without a care (or an expanding waistline)

    1. William Towle
      Thumb Up

      Re: "still a thing"

      I don't particularly like milk, so getting some in just to follow a recipe that needs a small amount feels quite wasteful. I can just drink it*, but while not particularly recently I have revisited Angel Delight on a biscuit base as a sort-of cheesecake from time to time and can "+1, confirm" the above.

      Google suggests that for a less frugal experience you could flavour full-fat cheesecake with AD should you so wish.

      *recommended vessel the Guinness pint glass ... how I imagine the inspiration for came about

  7. S4qFBxkFFg

    More like "Mortal Dismay"

    "an alternative pud option, butterscotch Angel Delight, is a thing of glory"

    We all have our preferences, but I can't understand how anyone can even tolerate, let alone like, this - maybe it was ruined by the way our school did it (the pink version, and everyone had to finish, unless they had a doctor's note), but as soon as it was in my mouth I felt the stomach muscles start considering expulsion - it's like it's in the uncanny valley of cuisine - the texture is nearly like food, the flavour is nearly like food... If that wasn't enough, butterscotch - another thing irrevocably ruined, in this case because, somehow, the smell was often present in the dirty nappies I was changing up until a couple of years ago.

    It's a good thing I'm trying to lose some waistline, that's put me off lunch, at least.

  8. cosymart

    Sainsburys Have It

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Sainsburys Have It

      Stop putting Temptation.... sigh. Why bother. The Grandkids love it and they are coming over tomorrow.

      My weakness food wekness is Hazelnut Yoghurt.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @cosymart - Re: Sainsburys Have It

      Holly c@#@$p! You need an academic degree in chemistry to try to understand what's in it. Couldn't it be done with normal ingredients like those usually found in my grandmother's cuisine ?

      When I was a child, silicon dioxide got in my food after picking it up from the floor (rest assured, 5 seconds rule was not enforced back then) but now I have to pay for it in my food ? That's progress for sure.

  9. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    The current state of education?

    "We realise this message isn’t very customer friendly, so while we fix, we ask that if any of our customers receive to please get in contact so we can check to why it has happened and provide the correct balance."

    My English teach would be turning in his grave if he read that piece of poorly constructed word-smithing. Clearly this problem extends to their devs too.

    1. Scotthva5

      Re: The current state of education?

      Sadly this is not an isolated incident, at least in my experience. The badly trained badgers that most government agencies employ are not capable of rational thought, let alone write it out.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: The current state of education?

      Looks like they've outsourced PR too.

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: The current state of education?

        I suspect the statement included “We will do the needful”, too.

  10. Alister

    butterscotch Angel Delight, is a thing of glory (although we're slightly concerned that happy childhood memories of decades ago might be sullied by the adult experience of today).

    Rest easy.

    Recently, in a fit of nostalgia, I bought and consumed some, and it is still as I remember it from childhood, truly a glorious thing.

    I also bought some sardine and tomato paste for sandwiches, and that too was a nostalgic trip round the tastebuds.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Glad to know something is still okay. How about that whisk and serve semolina? I used to live on that stuff!

      Just don't mention Walnut Whip, Quattro, Toffo, Secret, Woolies Pick&Mix, and the size of any chocolate bar these days.

      1. Dave559 Silver badge

        I don't understand why Quatro was withdrawn, I'm sure I can't have been the only person who liked it?!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Please get in contact"

    Good luck with that when it comes to British Gas. No email address, web links which run you round in circles, web chat which doesn't, phone queues of an hour or more. And it has been worse during this coronavirus crisis than it is at the best of times.

    They used to have quite good customer services before they decided that was eating into profits.

  12. Potemkine! Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    I am NaN

    I'm a free man!


    1. John Savard

      Re: I am NaN

      You are number 83.

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

        Re: I am NaN

        As I said on a previous topic:

        Never provoke a nan, she knows enough about you to totally destroy your credibility.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm just looking at a low-end Cisco router that says...


    cisco C1117-4P (1RU) processor with 1453210K/6147K bytes of memory.

    1 Ethernet interface

    2 Virtual Ethernet interfaces

    5 Gigabit Ethernet interfaces

    1 ATM interface

    4294966432 terminal lines (that's 4 billion virtual serial ports)

    1. John H Woods

      re: 4 billion virtual serial ports

      What happened to the other 864?

      1. WolfFan Silver badge

        Re: re: 4 billion virtual serial ports

        They’re for NSA and friends thereof use only.

  14. BenDwire Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Butterscotch? Nope.

    As a teen of the 1970's I have mixed memories of the food back then. I used to live on a diet of Angel Delight, baked beans and Smash (in separate bowls!) as my usually absent mother left me to fend for myself - ironically she was a social worker! But butterscotch? Nope. Any other flavour was fine, but butterscotch was too foul for words. Remember / Be aware that the 1970's gave us Vesta curries, pot noodles, liver sausage and spam fritters, so I had adapted to eat most things when required.

    The standard of cuisine was so low it is considered a trip hazard these days.

    I generally avoid anything that passed my lips in those dark days, and have so far lived to tell the tale...

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Butterscotch? Nope.

      I hanker for it. Everything is so bloody green and wholesome these days. If I was supposed to stuff myself on lettuce (*), I'd have been born with floppy ears and a tail...

      * - Lettuce has practically no nutritional value and may be loaded with one or more of pesticides, bleaches, traces of excrement, and various gastropods. I'd rather take my chances with a Pot Noodle.

    2. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: Butterscotch? Nope.

      Damn you, now I am craving spam fritters, a Beefeater Prawn Cocktail, and Findus Crispy Pancakes!

  15. John Savard

    Dimensional Analysis

    The pudding was marked "2 x 150" rather than "2 x 150g", so apparently somebody didn't know the 150 meant 150 grams, failed to input the net weight of pudding in the product... and so, lo and behold, instead of 83 new pence per 100 grams (one third of 2.49 pounds) we get what was shown in the photo.

    At least this shows that it isn't because decimalisation has made the arithmetic more complicated rather than less!

  16. Anonymous Coward

    I have a little collection.

    Most recent added is some raw duck hind labelled as "ready to eat!!!" because they needed a spare box to keep them all tidy in on the fresh meat shelf. I was hankering for some rosin duck when I saw it, but was not gonna risk nibbling on it without cooking it first!

    If I had a penny for each error I saw, I'd be rich.

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      Re: I have a little collection.

      But including your own errors is cheating.

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