back to article A tiny typo in an automated email to thousands of customers turns out to be a big problem for legal

Do you check your emails before sending them? Re-read a dozen times but still that typo sneaks through? Welcome to a Who, Me? in which a reader learns that one mistyped letter can result in a visit from the legal department. Our tale, from a reader Regomised as "Ali", takes place nearly 20 years ago, when he was in his first ( …

  1. Quiller-Nine

    "That meeting went on for about seven years," recalled Ali with a shudder, "but oddly enough, it was only about an hour later that they let me go back to my desk and send out a 'correction' to all recipients of the first message."

    This is the best line I have read in ages!

    1. RobLang

      Einstein's theory of general relativity is rarely so well demonstrated.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Einstein's theory of general special relativity is rarely so well demonstrated

        I take it you were referring to the gravity of the situation...

        <coughs>

        1. WonkoTheSane
          Headmaster

          I believe RobLang is referring to the statement

          "Time is measured by the number of learning events experienced"

    2. Sam not the Viking

      I think presentation software has also exploited this phenomenon, as expressed here so well.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Typical on manglement to spend an hour not sending out the correction.

      1. PM from Hell
        Flame

        Fix the problem - safely - then worry about legal / senior management

        As an ex Tech Support Manager my job was to keep the senior managers off my team until we had resolved any issue.

        1/ what went wrong

        2/ Push an all user comms out to explain there is an issue and its being worked on

        3/ Identify the fix

        4/ Impact assess the fix, including looking of the risk of making it worse involve senior stake holders and audit if required

        5/ If the fix will take a while push put another comms

        6/ Take whatever backups are required to protect the data

        7/ Apply the fix

        8/ Perform return to service tests

        9/ Issue a comms to let users know the service is now available

        10/ Internal Team incident review

        11/ I report back to senior management

        Individual engineers were always protected, my team, my problem

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fix the problem - safely - then worry about legal / senior management

          If only all managers were like that.

          Round here they'll chuck you under a bus without batting an eyelid.

          Stab vests with back protection needed here.

        2. Steve B

          Re: Fix the problem - safely - then worry about legal / senior management

          I managed my teams like that which worked well until the Council IT top tier management team changed.

          Obvious failures by my team members were resolved and owned, as one does.

          The new "managers" were not up to their roles as we accidentally exposed time after time, so they used any failures as an excuse to shuffle me out (downgrading, dead end career progression, reorganisation etc).

          They then promoted the worst members of my team into the team leading roles.

          Karma being what it is, the management team all went on to enjoy massive salaries and pension benefits whilst the service and standards provided by the Council declined from the best value in England ( or thereabouts when I left) to the lowest levels possible.

          It was always someone else's fault and they were such good managers they had managed to recover from some of the issues etc.

          I can quite easily understand them taking hours to figure out how not to accept any liability at their level and getting that aspect sorted first before actually looking at the problem and ways to resolve it.

        3. eionmac

          Re: Fix the problem - safely - then worry about legal / senior management

          This is the mark of a GOOD leader!

      2. Anne Hunny Mouse

        Been on calls were it took longer to join the conference than to fix the issue, but you had to let everyone discuss it for an hour first.

        1. Rufus McDufus

          Or there were always a few people hogging the call and convinced they knew the problem, and you couldn't get a word in edgeways. Meantime I or a colleague often found the problem while they were droning on and then announced "fixed it".

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Been there, done that, got in trouble for fixing it without telling anyone until the call had decided what we were going to do to fix it (i don't recall if my fix was what they had settled on)... I was almost fired that day.

            1. heyrick Silver badge
              Unhappy

              Makes you wonder why you bother, doesn't it?

              1. HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

                "Makes you wonder why you bother, doesn't it?"

                No, not in the least though that sort of thing is rather disheartening when it happens over and over for thirty-odd years.

                All it takes is one happy customer to squeal with glee that she wants to have my baby [extreme hyperbole but the meaning behind it was clear, she was a little bit grateful for my help] to make the entire Helldesk experience well worthwhile.

                A few others, scattered randomly across the decades of various IT Support roles, add strawberry bits to the normal tapioca of life. It does not take much of a "thank you" to brighten up a week and they are all remembered.

                Be nice to your Support guy, it may be the only time he ever gets thanked for his efforts.

                For sure, manglement mostly won't.

        2. Giles C Silver badge

          Also been on calls with 10 managers and only 3 techies. Usually a routing problem (network engineer here) so put my phone on mute and then fix the problem before saying anything.

          The worst call was when someone cut the main BT lines from Cambridge to London (they were building the Stansted junction on the M11) and a man with digger…. We found that both of the “diverse” internet lines went that way the conversation went something like.

          Manager: we have got to get this fixed now

          Techie: what do you want me to do, until they fix that cable nothing is going to work and the isp can’t change it for a week.

          Manager: we must do something

          Techie: you can call the isp and ask them but there isn’t anything they can do.

          A month later we had the isp divert one of the links to another town to avoid this again.

  2. Zenubi

    What was I thinking?

    Back in the days of multimedia I managed to name and send a file ready for a CD pressing as "company name porno". I ought to have called it promo.

    Fortunately the nice people at the CD plant called me before making 1000 copies.

    This typo was missed by a few other people including the client. What was I thinking?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What was I thinking?

      We once very nearly shipped a marketing flyer for a User Massaging System. None of the writing & marketing team spotted it, it was only the engineering manager on the Messaging products who queried the blurb.

      1. Davegoody
        FAIL

        Re: What was I thinking?

        I once sent a final email to a German customer that I had fixed a load of issues for, and instead of typing something along the lines of "if I can help you further, please don't hesitate.........." what was actually sent was "If I can help your Furhrer..........." That was a difficult one to deal with.

        1. David 132 Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: What was I thinking?

          A former boss of mine many years ago sent an email to a customer, CC'ing me, that began "Dear Angus..."

          Except he fumble-fingered it and left out the 'g'.

          I sprinted round to his cube and panted out as quick as I could "Recall! You need to recall that mail!"

          "Why?"

          "Look at how you addressed him!"

          Cue boss (who was, in fact, an awesome guy) turning a very pale colour and frantically trying to locate the Outlook "recall mail" button...

          1. J. Cook Silver badge

            Re: What was I thinking?

            ... and half of the emails probably failed for the recall attempt, I'll bet. :D

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: What was I thinking?

            depending on Angus sense of humour, an "Ah shit, bloody hell, sending myself out the back to top myself" would be best

            1. David 132 Silver badge

              Re: What was I thinking?

              Actually, as I recall, the customer in question was very good-natured about it, as it wasn’t the first time he’d been inadvertently addressed that way by other parties. The relationship with the customer, having sunk to the bottom, recovered. My boss did not have to commit ritual seppuku with his red Swingline stapler, and learned a valuable lesson about spell-checkers (“just because it doesn’t have a red squiggly line under it, doesn’t mean it’s the right word…”)

    2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: What was I thinking?

      > What was I thinking?

      ...

      One would venture to suggest that what you were _thinking_ was fairly obvious...

    3. iron Silver badge

      Re: What was I thinking?

      When I was a kid my father almost printed thousands of Desk Dairys for the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce. The artwork had been through numerous hands at both his company and the LCoC before some schoolboy pointed out that's not how you spell diary.

      I wonder who he was. ;)

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: What was I thinking?

        So you didn't end up playing for Accrington Stanley?

        Iron Rush?

        1. David 132 Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: What was I thinking?

          Haha I can still remember that advert, and the kid's "Accrington Stanley? Who are they?"

          1. Peter X

            Re: What was I thinking?

            ^ ditto. I suspect for me it was the accent that made it particularly memorable, to the extent that *any* time I see Accrington Stanley, I hear it in _that_ accent.

            Was it a milk advert?

          2. phuzz Silver badge
            WTF?

            Re: What was I thinking?

            I have never worked out exactly what the point of that advert was, as the message seemed to be "if you drink milk you'll be good enough to play for a team so minor you've never heard of them". What did I miss?

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. the spectacularly refined chap Silver badge

        Re: What was I thinking?

        I remember at a former employer the monthly staff newsletter had a profile of a colleague in it. His interests were supposed to say he was interested in "martial arts". Various members of staff assumed he must be some kind of pervert when the T and I were transposed...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What was I thinking?

          Presumably not the person who's business card proclaimed him a "Principle Engineer" then?

          1. Tim99 Silver badge

            Re: What was I thinking?

            I was the General Manager of a business, but for marketing reasons called myself "The Principal Chemist". When we advertised a technical job we typically got 200-400 replies. A harsh, but necessary, filter was that anyone who addressed their application to the Principle Chemist was not considered - The jobs involved writing legally enforceable technical reports - It probably removed 20%.

            1. Still Water

              Re: What was I thinking?

              A very valid way of filtering down applications to review. Previously we advertised for a Sen. Test Analyst:

              Please provide CV and covering letter explaining why you are suitable for role, etc.

              83 applications culled to 7 due to lack of letter. When apparently unable to read instructions like this, doubts are raised over their abilities to read requirements for testing...

          2. C-L
            Holmes

            Re: What was I thinking?

            Commentary on my title ("Principal Consultant") ran from "your title is misspelled" and downhill. I thanked them all and signed using the same title spelling.

            In one patient case, 3 exchanges took place before a phone call came (obsessive compulsive?) I had no choice then but make the referral to the dictionary.

        2. Onen hag Oll

          Re: What was I thinking?

          Upvoted as it reminds me of the Terry Pratchett Discworld book 'Lords and Ladies'. Although, in this case, it was a Marital Arts illustrated publication that that was required. What was delivered caused a lot of confusion if I remember correctly.

          1. David 132 Silver badge

            Re: What was I thinking?

            As I recall, in the sequel book Maskerade, in which King Verence had finally succeeded in buying the actual Marital Arts publication, Nanny Ogg had wandered into the royal bedchamber and spent an amusing half-hour drawing spectacles and moustaches on all the illustrations.

            Verence was subsequently heard to have been enquiring of his courtiers where he might obtain a false moustache...

            I think we may have wandered off-topic a little here.

    4. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: What was I thinking?

      I remember the marketing manager/co-owner of a place that I worked at utterly red faced when she walked up to me and showed a flyer that we had sent out the week before to promote one of our products with a special offer:

      Buy 5 for the price of 6.

      We had to laugh at that one, not least because none of us had noticed it but also because absolutely none of the recipients, even those who called to take advantage of the offer, mentioned it either!

      1. druck Silver badge

        Re: What was I thinking?

        Sounds like most of the Black Friday deals this side of the pond.

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: What was I thinking?

          It's worth noting that logic also applies to multipacks these days.

          I can buy one pack of cat food for two euros, or I can buy a three-pack for seven. What!? I suck at maths and even I can spot something amiss with that "offer".

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: What was I thinking?

            Likewise, the "nearly out of date" stuff in the supermarkets. Often marked down, but sometimes actually more expensive than the in-date stuff on the shelf where there happens to be a BOGOF or similar offer running. And that's not even an error. It's just the way the "system" works!

          2. swm Silver badge

            Re: What was I thinking?

            In high school they were selling cookies for 3 cents or 3 for 10 cents.

            1. David 132 Silver badge

              Re: What was I thinking?

              Obligatory SMBC cartoon.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What was I thinking?

      Ha. I always use jholmes and/or mchambers for test accounts*...

      * - until someone twigged to their significance, i.e. fuck everything...

    6. Onen hag Oll

      Re: What was I thinking?

      I have two tripe-ing errors to admit. I did once send out an 'important massage' in the title of an e-mail to the whole organisation which led to a few warning words (but many laughs) - don't rub it in!

      I also did intend to say in an e-mail to a woman colleague that 'I knew she must be busy' but managed to hit the 't' and the 'y' simultaneously (it didn't come out as 'busyt'). Fortunately, she had a good sense of humour and my hurried red-faced phoned apology was accepted with a chuckle.

  3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

    ...for picking a name that is one character different from an existing RDBMS.

    Perhaps YourSQL would have been better?

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

      One of our overseas companies uses a local ERP system, called SQL. Why it's called that I don't know as it has no relationship (excuse the pun) with what we consider as SQL, with no external database and no export mechanisms beyond saving reports to CSV files.

      As we're looking to replace it I'm fed up with explaining, "It's SQL but not the database language!"

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

        "As we're looking to replace it I"

        NotSQL

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

          That's similar enough to NoSQL to be guaranteed to cause further confusion.

          Is your name not Bruce? No. That's going to cause a little confusion. Mind if we call you Bruce?

      2. Coastal cutie
        Coat

        Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

        "It's SQL Jim, but not as we know it" I'll get my coat...…..

        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

          Heh. You took the words right out of my mouth.

          1. David 132 Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

            ....and now I have "there's Klingons on the starboard bow, starboard bow, scrape them off Jim!" running round and round my head. Thanks a bunch.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

        Similarly, I keep having to tell people I work for Cerco, no not the one with an 'S'.

        1. EarthDog

          Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

          I see what you did there...

        2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

          Pronounce it Kerko or Cherko. Probably not correct, but it makes it the other person's problem.

          At least you're not answering the phone for Siemens in Staines. (Apocryphal?)

    2. MOH

      Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

      Except one of the founders didn't have a daughter called Your

      1. KarMann Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

        And the other one did? Problem solved!

    3. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

      Perhaps YourSQL would have been better?

      What? Change his daughters name?

      "MySQL (/ˌmaɪˌɛsˌkjuːˈɛl/) is an open-source relational database management system (RDBMS). Its name is a combination of "My", the name of co-founder Michael Widenius's daughter, and "SQL", the abbreviation for Structured Query Language."

      1. Roland6 Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

        I assume her middle name is: Daughter

        1. David 132 Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

          Or as her fond parents nicknamed her, Little Bobbie Tables?

      2. Cav

        Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

        Are you here to see my Widenius? "Oooh Matron!"

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

          "If you say it's your thermometer I'll have to believe you but it's a funny place to put it."

          (from the titles of Carry On Again Doctor)

      3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

        Seems he has form for picking silly names for things that are likely to cause confusion then.

        "I'll name my daughter after the first person possessive pronoun in one of the world's most widely spoken languages, that will cause absolutely no confusion with all the people in my chosen profession who will commonly be from other countries and will communicate almost entirely in that language, because nobody else understands Finnish, and English is the lingua franca in the Western world."

        Going on to name your RDMBS after your daughter, when almost everyone who uses it is going to understand English better than they do Finnish is really just compounding that mistake.

        Oh, and the name "My"? It's not even a traditional Finnish name, it was invented by Tove Jansson for a character in the Moomin books...

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

          Little My is the only (other) one I've heard of. If I'm thinking of the right character, I would call her a little...... difficult.

          I suppose that paradoxes are thematic for a Finnish startup... and I think "Paradox" was taken.

      4. Anonymous IV
        Happy

        Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

        > Perhaps YourSQL would have been better?

        Really it should have been called the non-possessive-pronoun-specific One'sSQL, with a special dispensation for avoiding the apostrophe but not the esses...

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

          "Really it should have been called the non-possessive-pronoun-specific One'sSQL, with a special dispensation for avoiding the apostrophe but not the esses..."

          I believe there is a specially crafted version used to manage the Royal Diary call OnesSQL.

          1. KarMann Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

            Not OurSQL?!?

            1. David 132 Silver badge

              Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

              I was about to say, " 'OnesSQL', or otherwise known as 'Charles'..."

      5. Geez Money

        Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

        > What? Change his daughters name?

        Yes, this would have been as good an excuse as any to change that poor girl's name to something else.

    4. katrinab Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

      The first version of Microsoft's SQL server for Windows was released in 1993. MySQL was first released in 1995. There were versions of Microsoft's offering for OS/2 before that, and it was previously known as Sybase SQL Server before Microsoft bought a licence that allowed them to fork it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

        "[...] it was previously known as Sybase SQL Server before Microsoft bought a licence that allowed them to fork it."

        Is that a euphemism before my eyes?

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

          no, a type, it was "bork it"

          1. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

            Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

            >no, a type, it was "bork it"

            I do believe the word "type" there is a typo for typo. My day is complete.

            1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

              Muphry's Law in action.

              Yes, Muphry.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

        "The first version of Microsoft's SQL server for Windows was released in 1993. MySQL was first released in 1995."

        Yeahbut, when did "Microsoft SQL server for Windows" officially become MSSQL?

        I quick search seems to report it's Microsoft SQL Server in most places. MS themselves seem to refer to it simply as SQL Server on their download pages and the various tools as XXXXX for SQL Server etc. So the reality is that only techies referring to it in a common, unofficial shorthand call it MSSQL and therefore allowing for the possible confusion by one letter with MySQL.

        1. Alister

          Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

          Note that the default installation path for Microsoft SQL Server is

          \Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL{nn}.<InstanceID>\MSSQL\

          and has been for many versions.

    5. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

      Then there's the VISIO-like diagramming software called... "dia"

      Totally useless to Google for any sort of issues with it.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

        And we shouldn't forget companies like: Alphabet, Meta - although for these two, mangling search engine results might be a reason for choosing these names...

      2. Ace2

        Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

        Try finding usage examples for ‘screen’.

        Awesome program, stupid name.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

          Doesn't that pre-date search engines though?

      3. David 132 Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

        Then there's the VISIO-like diagramming software called... "dia"

        Presumably the users’ group is called diatribe, and the custom integrated silicon for linking installations together is dianetICs?

        Yes, I’ll get my coat, those puns were awful even by my own low standards.

      4. WhereAmI?

        Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

        Which, in Gaelic, means 'God'. Mmmmmm.

      5. the Jim bloke Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

        Not IT,

        but there is the music-group 'Accessory'

        Just try googling for accessory + band, and see where you get..

      6. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: A small percentage of the blame should go to the other RDBMS creators...

        I was trying to look for a walkthru for a game called "Control" the other day, some searches worked, some of them I had to put the word 'game' in the search.

  4. ColinPa Silver badge

    Not is such a tiny word

    I remember getting a memo saying

    "If you get xx then it is critical that you should respond to it", signed PHB.

    Followed by another email an hour later

    "If you get xx then it is critical that you should >NOT< respond to it".

    1. PerspexAvenger

      Re: Not is such a tiny word

      Also the "now" vs "not" thinko/typo....

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Not is such a tiny word

        I've been bitten by that more times than I care to remember.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Not is such a tiny word

      That's an old problem, in 1631 the Royal printers in London managed to publish the so-called "wicked" bible, which contained the commandment "Thou shalt commit adultery".

      1. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: Not is such a tiny word

        There was a furniture catalogue that managed to misspell the colour of a sofa that was supposed to be “Niger”. Like the country, next door to Nigeria, or the river.

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: Not is such a tiny word

          "N-word Brown" was a standard colour name for furniture, shoe polish and other brown things for many years.

          1. David 132 Silver badge

            Re: Not is such a tiny word

            Indeed, and my sainted grandmother, God rest her soul, would embarrass my mother by loudly and obliviously asking in shops for that shade of shoe-polish well into the 1990s.

            On a related note, I saw recently that a certain type of birdseed here has been renamed to "Nijer" seeds, to avoid linguistic confusion.

          2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

            Re: Not is such a tiny word

            This appears to be an urban myth. The only pictorial example of it is dubious.

            There were undoubtedly 'n-word' brands, including e.g. 'n****r's head stove polish', but 'n****r brown' seems to be apocryphal. (There was a sportsman called Brown whose nickname was the n-word, though, so perhaps there's just no evidence of the brand on the internet, or perhaps that's where the story comes from.)

            1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

              Re: Not is such a tiny word

              This appears to be an urban myth

              Not so. I'm old enough to remember n****r-brown being used, I think for the colour of a dog (which is consistent with the Guy Gibson usage). The word was already offensive, and the people using it were probably middle-aged.

              My wife, who is American, tells me that when she was young the name for liquorice sweets similar to Pontefract cakes was n****r-toes. I don't suppose that was the name on the packet.

              1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

                Re: Not is such a tiny word

                Was it a nickname, or on the packaging?

                I find it odd there are no pictorial examples on the internet. Perhaps this one's a bit like the 'no dogs, no blacks, no Irish' signs that everyone thinks they remember, but don't appear in contemporary pictures - it's thought to be such a perfect summation of the real thing that people 'remember' it in place of the specific racism they experienced.

              2. New around here

                Re: Not is such a tiny word

                Aniseed balls were called n****r balls in South Africa when I was a kid. It was the only time I ever heard the n word in my youth.

            2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

              Re: Not is such a tiny word

              This appears to be an urban myth.

              Nope. Back when my age was in single digits (50s & early 60s) my parents ran a shop with a haberdashery(*) section and n[deleted]-brown was a very common sewing thread colour. I also remember it as a shoe polish colour. This was in the UK.

              (*) Not a word you come across much these days.

          3. Kubla Cant Silver badge

            Re: Not is such a tiny word

            Such as the dog belonging to Squadron Leader Guy Gibson that was run over just before the Dams raid. These days I imagine they cut or overdub the scenes where the dog is named.

            1. Negative Charlie

              Re: Not is such a tiny word

              Of course, the culturally-correct choice would be to rename the dog "Nigel".

              1. David 132 Silver badge
                Happy

                Re: Not is such a tiny word

                I can imagine that would cause a fuss itself.. a Nigel Farrago, if you will...

            2. Geez Money

              Re: Not is such a tiny word

              I assume they don't air it anymore at all to sidestep the issue. In real life the RAF removed the name from the dog's gravestone, and the remake that Peter Jackson wanted to make was largely derailed by dog name controversy and seems to have been quietly axed.

            3. WhereAmI?

              Re: Not is such a tiny word

              No - the intent was to fudge the issue and rename the dog as 'Digger'. Right there and then I decided I wasn't going to watch the resulting film because historical revisionism to write out the usage is as bad as using the word today.

            4. A Nother Handle
              Headmaster

              Re: Not is such a tiny word

              I saw the Dambusters on TV (Film 4 most likely) in the last couple of years and the dog's name was intact. There may have been a warning beforeehand but I missed the start.

              1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

                Re: Not is such a tiny word

                "There may have been a warning beforeehand but I missed the start."

                I listen to "classic" series on Radio 4 Extra, and there's often a cultural sensativity warning before programs.... that are barely ten years old!

        2. H in The Hague Silver badge

          Re: Not is such a tiny word

          "There was a furniture catalogue that managed to misspell the colour of a sofa that was supposed to be “Niger”."

          Years ago I had to update the articles of association of a Dutch public transport research organisation. When proofreading my work I suddenly realised that both the original translator (v experienced) and their proofreader (also v experienced) had overlooked a missing letter L in at least one occurrence of 'public'.

          This was in de days of WordPerfect so I could exclude that word from the main spell checking dictionary, to avoid making that mistake myself. (Though I've made plenty of others :) .)

          Incidentally, I get the impression that in Microsoft Word you can only delete words from your custom dictionary, not the main dictionary. Any thoughts on that?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not is such a tiny word

            "[...] a missing letter L in at least one occurrence of 'public'."

            IIRC the 1964 "silent" film "A Home of Your Own" used that as a throwaway visual joke with Bernard Cribbins as a stonemason. The film is a 45 minute showcase of visual jokes from at least ten recognisable comedians of that and later decades.

            The plot of the film is probably still relevant to new house builds nearly 60 years later.

            1. David 132 Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: Not is such a tiny word

              Ooh, thanks for the recommendation. As a fan of Eric Sykes’ “The Plank” and similar films, I’ll have to seek that one out.

              Edit: now watching AHOYO from your link. Is that a very young Ronnie Barker I see? Awesome.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Not is such a tiny word

                There is an IMDB entry listing cast members. A few names elude me - but their faces were probably recognised as character sketch members .

                It was a surprise that the whole film is not on YouTube.

                Combine the cast with that of "The Plank" and you get a fairly comprehensive list of comedians from that era. There is also the golfing one "Rhubarb, Rhubarb" .

                1. David 132 Silver badge
                  Thumb Up

                  Re: Not is such a tiny word

                  It was a surprise that the whole film is not on YouTube.

                  Checking in a few days later to say that I have happily been able to locate a copy of it, by a means that rhymes with "litwarrant". There was, it seems, one and only one person kind enough to be sharing it. Now there are two. I shall enjoy watching it!

    3. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Not is such a tiny word

      This is a pretty common error. I've even had a few come my way over the years. It's the result, often, of managers who don't like to communicate with, let alone be responsible to,underlings trying to be as concise (i.e. brief and uninformative) as possible when forced to by some crisis that they've caused themselves..

      1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        Re: Not is such a tiny word

        It's something I noticed a long time ago serves as a flag for people over-caught-up in faff or "noise", running a bit past their comfortable capacity for dealing with lots and lots of little things. They elide the most important word in the sentence. Quite common in central London.

    4. MrBanana Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Not is such a tiny word

      Missing out the not in a sentence is common for me, and probably other dyslexic people. I see it from quite a lot of technical folk where the context of the message is clearly NOT, but the actual word is there.

      1. TheFifth

        Re: Not is such a tiny word

        "where the context of the message is clearly NOT, but the actual word is there."

        I see what you did there!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not is such a tiny word

        "[...] where the context of the message is clearly NOT, but the actual word is there."

        Is that a case of a double negative?

      3. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

        Re: Not is such a tiny word

        And Microsoft GPO logic doesn't help on that:

        "Disable the deactivation of <whatever>" -> Activate or not Disable that GPO, whatever I actually want, I cannot see... How I hate such triple-nai GPO to end up in a yay... How much time is spent on analyzing such riddles, and how often a "Try with test machine, and then deploy" is faster than trying to analyze that gibberish...

        I am bashing M$ here since that is where I earn my money and work most with, but I know the other two well spread OS-es are not better in that regard...

    5. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Not is such a tiny word

      Negation is something that automated translation can screw up pretty effectively as well. If you're translating "blind" (i.e. into or from a language you have absolutely no knowledge of), it is not unknown for Google Translate to "reverse the polarity" as it were, and for you to be none the wiser. This is more common when the grammatical structure of the two languages are quite different (for example, Chinese into French).

  5. DarkwavePunk

    Draft copies..

    I was once tasked with creating a networking diagram that was required for some Financial Services regulation. My draft copy had a label for one of our connections as "PISSNet WANK Link" as a joke. My final of course had "PSINet WAN Link", can you guess which one I sent?...

    1. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Draft copies..

      I hope you learned which jokes are good jokes and which are not.

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: Draft copies..

        For some reason I found myself reading “pissnet wanklink” in the voice of Arthur Bostrom. I’ve been binge-watching ‘Allo ‘Allo lately.

  6. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

    Jack was leaving

    The idea was to invite people to 'see Jack off at the pub', but unfortunately the 'see' was somehow left out.

    1. notyetanotherid
      Coat

      Re: Jack was leaving

      Did anyone come?

      1. KittenHuffer Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Jack was leaving

        Loudly and furiously!

        ----------> Mine's the dirty mac! It was clean before!

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Jack was leaving

      There was also one's Uncle Jack who had a ladder fall down while he was up fixing the roof.

  7. MrBanana Silver badge
    Facepalm

    And be careful with the email address

    That blunder with a single character can lead to many woes. A fellow worker, unsatisfied with his lot, decided to email his CV to a recruitment agency. Rather stupidly he did so from the work email system, something like - To: info@recruitment-agency.co,uk. Note the very subtle transposition of a full stop to comma, so the email bounced. But yes, there was a company wide alias called UK - so that everyone, except the recruitment agency, got a copy.

    1. Valeyard

      Re: And be careful with the email address

      That's amazing, enough cringe to sustain me for months!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hell hath no fury?

    My friend sent an email subject "Hello from Bob" but he accidentally wrote "Hell from Bob"

  9. Korev Silver badge
    Coat

    I once got an instant message from a user attempting to enquire about her computer's hard disc, she managed to type something else by mistake.

    Everyone apart from her found this hilarious, she was mortified!

    A trench coat is always good for covering stuff like this up -->

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Trollface

      Did you swipe left or right... to fix her Hard... Disc....

  10. Keith Langmead

    Wary of ALT-S

    With old age and repeated bad experiences I've developed caution regarding blindly hitting Alt-S only to realise I hadn't included something... or worse.

    Gotten into the habit these days of leaving the address fields empty until the very end (or even emptying them and re-adding the addresses for replies) for important emails, just so I get those few extra seconds after I finish writing the email and then set who it's going to to realise what if anything needs changing before I hit send. Has saved me multiple times.

    1. stiine Silver badge

      Re: Wary of ALT-S

      My preference was to send it to myself fist.

      1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Wary of ALT-S

        so you are in fisting?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Regards

    I never end emails with 'regards', kind or otherwise. Purely because of the proximity of the G and T keys on a standard qwerty

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Regards

      Somehow I do wish you hadn't just added that into my subconscious mind... :)

    2. FrogsAndChips

      Re: Regards

      It's integrated in my signature, so at least I don't have to worry about that. On second thoughts, let me have a quick look...

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Regards

        You’ve just made me realize that a good April Fool’s joke would be to install a font where (for example) the T and G glyph appearances are swapped. Would drive the victim mad wondering why those two keys on their keyboard have apparently switched places, not to mention the hilarity when others quesgion ghe weirdly-spelg email messates…

    3. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

      Re: Regards

      I never type regards. Autohotkey to the rescue! I type #re and Autohotkey happily expands it to "regards <etc>" - without typo of course. Would have been bad to discover one after so many years of usage...

  12. Confused of Tadley

    Wedneday

    I remember an organisation sending me a calendar proclaiming the middle day of the week as Wedneday. The next year the calendar used Wednesday but had some other typo.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the 1990s there was a search engine called hotbot.com. This occasionally necessitated a trip to site IT security to explain why you had fetched a page from hotboy.com

    1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
      Angel

      I still remember a colleague who used a rob.eu branded badge holder at work...

    2. David 132 Silver badge

      "...and then I had to look up some US regulatory information, so tried to get to what I thought would be the official site for the White House..."

  14. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    The best typos, of course...

    Are road signs. Both the ones stuck on poles and, especially, those painted on the road. I'm sure we've all see the news reports, or experienced them at some stage so I'll leave for others to relate any especially good ones. Although IIRC there was one where someone needed a sign translation into Welsh, emailed the translator, got an Out Of Office Reply, thought that was the translation and duly had the sign made up and installed.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: The best typos, of course...

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7702913.stm

      That one?

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: The best typos, of course...

        By jove, was that incident 13 years ago already? Wow.

        If you'd asked me, I'd have sworn it was only 3 or 4 years ago that it happened.

        Now I feel old.

      2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: The best typos, of course...

        I was looking at that the other day. Guess what his retirement present was. ;-) (Seven years later though!)

  15. fredesmite2 Bronze badge

    ????

    " Rather than 'MSSQL', Ali managed to point the finger of blame at a well-known open-source relational database management system. "

    i still don't know what they are saying.

    1. Spamolot

      Re: ????

      Ali mistyped MySQL instead of MSSQL...

      Never underestimate the power of human stupidity. - Robert A. Heinlein

    2. lesession

      Re: ????

      The irony being that anyone who *is* using MySQL in a production environment (or MyLittleSQL as it's known round here) deserves everything they get.

      The open source equivalent of MS Access, with about the same level of enterprise reliability.

  16. Sam Therapy
    Facepalm

    Guilty as charged

    Testing out an internal mail system at a former employer, I created a series of utterly hilarious (well, I thought they were) mails to send to a select few people, with a similar sense of humour. They contained plenty of swearing and several not very complimentary remarks about various managers.

    Naturally, I screwed up and sent 'em to everyone in the company.

    Wow, that was fun. I got the mother of all tellings off from one of the department big wigs (who couldn't keep a straight face, to be fair to him) and a written warning.

    On the other hand, I made a lot of friends that day, with many people saying it was the best laugh they'd had in ages.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Doesn't compare, but...

    Worst typo I ever made was a freudian slip in typing the "WHERE" keyword of a SQL query in the live demo portion of a presentation I was giving in front of a live audience.

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Doesn't compare, but...

      Ah yes. Reminiscent of the old joke about the “dyslexic pimp who bought a warehouse”.

  18. Daniel Bower

    Not quite an email...

    ...but I used to design flyers as a side line. My mum was a GP and one of her colleagues wanted a flyer doing for a surgical course he was running.

    I had the main speaker down as Mr Soandso - consultant plastic sturgeon...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not quite an email...

      There is definitely something fishy about that

  19. Medixstiff

    It still gives me a chuckle when an a-hole to everyone, sends out an email, realizes their Oops moment and then can't understand when we try to explain that the Recall email feature only works on the companies mail Servers, not external companies mail Servers.

  20. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge
    Headmaster

    I don't understand

    ... why his ass was working on a help desk. In any case, who keeps an ass these days?

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: I don't understand

      Due to another typo and equal opportunities, they had to hire the only applicant :-)

      Actually it worked out because he was an experienced onager :-)))

  21. Valeyard

    ignored emails

    We had HR in our big consultancy send out a spreadsheet to everyone.

    Naturally everyone's reaction was to delete it because they sent out so much corporate buzzword rubbish everyday it was just noise to us. Until a few minutes later an email recall request came through, so everyone retrieved and opened the spreadsheet which actually contained all the salaries of the local office. Cue lots of comparing and managers flooded with meeting requests

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I spent about 15 years as an independent consultant at the largest employer in the US, USPS. My classification was Senior Computer Communication Systems Architect. As a practical matter, I spent all my time down in the trenches cleaning up defects in international mail tracking systems.

    A common event in a large internal email community regarded distribution lists. High level executives and managers love to call attention to themselves in cast of thousands meetings and emails to everyone who works under them. For their convenience they had their assistants concoct email distribution lists so that they could manifest their importance with a single keystroke.

    Often problems arose when someone replied to one of the pronouncements. The reply would go to everyone on the list. Then there would be many replies to the reply, telling people to ignore the reply. This would create a kind of snow storm of useless emails that could not be stopped. Recipients had to discipline themselves to ignore everything related to the original email.

    My job was to clean up problems.

    Once I received an email concerning a sword that had been mailed that various inspectors had flagged as illegitimate in international mail.

    I carefully investigated the issue and found that the email had been kicking around through the system for over a year. It was a hot potato. The original complaint had crossed the desks of over 100 people without any resolution. Further investigation revealed that the original complaint had simply been an inquiry. More examination of the email thread showed me that over time the issue had evolved into something that was precisely the opposite of what it originally had been.

    I wrote a brief explanation of the issue to everyone, pointing out the timeline, the dead interest, and the reversal of issues. The reverberation stopped.

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      For efficient business communication, make sure you use the right sword?

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