back to article Beware the fury of a database developer torn from tables and SQL

Be careful what humorous messages you leave in your app, for you never know who might see them. Welcome to Who, Me? Our story today is a return for a reader Regomized as "Philip," who does not have the highest opinion of the sales profession. "We had three developers," he recalled. "One was responsible for UI, another for the …

  1. BOFH in Training Bronze badge

    Seems to have ended well in this case

    They got the sale and the developer got his joke, still survived the joke and presumably will not be called upon to do things which do not have anything to do with a database.

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Seems to have ended well in this case

      He won't be asked to Rome outside of his area of competence again

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

        Re: Seems to have ended well in this case

        If you try that kind of thing these days you will find that Turin trouble

        1. Pomgolian

          Re: Seems to have ended well in this case

          Usually without a shroud of evidence.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Seems to have ended well in this case

        They shouldn't have Palma'd the job off onto him in the first place.

    2. One trick pony

      Re: Seems to have ended well in this case

      Just as well the customer wasn't too pizza'd off

  2. TonyJ

    I've heard all kinds of stories like this

    Including a commissioning engineer (this was the early-mid 1990's) who used to think it was funny to upload hardcore porn into the company kit during commissioning, believing it would never be seen or even found.

    As you can imagine, it was. I am not sure what the whole story was but he did lose his job, unsurprisingly.

    It is simply never a good idea to "hide" something unsavoury inside code or on drives etc. It will eventually be discovered.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: I've heard all kinds of stories like this

      On a much tamer note, I know of a database consultant whe had a thing for the name Alice, and tried to shoehorn that name in somewhere every new job he had. That is why there are a number of servers in the world that are probably still named Alice to this day.

      1. Chloe Cresswell

        Re: I've heard all kinds of stories like this

        My head has already filled in the error for when the server can't be found...

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: I've heard all kinds of stories like this

          My head has already filled in the error for when the server can't be found...

          Who the F.... is Alice.

          1. Chloe Cresswell

            Re: I've heard all kinds of stories like this

            Correct

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: I've heard all kinds of stories like this

            Whereas the one the sales droids are singing is the Chorus of Alice's Restaurant

      2. Plest Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: I've heard all kinds of stories like this

        Ah, the Sisters of Mercy....

        "Alice in her party dress

        She thanks you kindly

        So serene

        She needs you like she needs her tranqs

        To tell her that the world is clean"

      3. Arthur the cat Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: I've heard all kinds of stories like this

        a database consultant whe had a thing for the name Alice

        I've now got Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit running through my head.

        [Icon seems appropriate.]

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: I've heard all kinds of stories like this

          My brain went with Alice Cooper's "Welcome To My Nightmare".

          1. Arthur the cat Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: I've heard all kinds of stories like this

            Probably more appropriate for databases.

      4. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

        Re: I've heard all kinds of stories like this

        Didn't he also work for a Telco operator in Italy?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I've heard all kinds of stories like this

      > It is simply never a good idea to "hide" something unsavoury inside code

      Fully agreed, but that's not the case here.

      As the article correctly points out, it's a powerful literary reference which every educated Italian speaker will recognise.

      It might be seen as somewhat sarcastic, but the Italians have a much more receptive approach to that, as anyone who has read the late Umberto Eco will know.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: I've heard all kinds of stories like this

        As the article correctly points out, it's a powerful literary reference which every educated Italian speaker will recognise.

        Many of us will recognize the English version and have probably used it ourselves. For years I had it hanging over the door of the IT Lab where I worked. Now that i think about it, I probably should have used the original Italian.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I've heard all kinds of stories like this

          > Many of us will recognize the English version and have probably used it ourselves.

          It's not quite the same thing though, due to the cultural context.

          It's a bit like if I drop a mention of the dardi e frecce dell'oltraggiosa fortuna in conversation with an Italian. Even if they happen to recognise the reference, which is unlikely even though they might have heard it before, it just doesn't carry the same force or connotations.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I've heard all kinds of stories like this

        I remember writing a document which had a section on managing watchdog timer failures. The section was entitled "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes". At least one reviewer sent me a thumbs up.

      3. jmch Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: I've heard all kinds of stories like this

        " it's a powerful literary reference which every *educated* Italian speaker will recognise."

        Actually, Dante' 'Divina Commedia' is a standard text for the Italian "maturita'" (school-leaving exam), and the inscription over hell's gates is one of the most famous lines. So pretty much every Italian, howver badly educated, would get the reference.

        And yes, it absolutely would appeal to their sense of humour!

    3. Jan 0

      Re: I've heard all kinds of stories like this

      > It is simply never a good idea to "hide" something unsavoury inside code or on drives etc. It will eventually be discovered

      I recall a gentler time when computers (mainframes only back then), were demonstrated with a file containing just the words of "Eskimo Nell". That impressed management far more than the computer generated graphics of a ball bouncing endlessly up an Escher staircse, or the ability to update and print the daily production and sales reports in just a few minutes.

  3. jake Silver badge

    Know your audience.

    I damn near killed an idiot who insisted on commenting in Klingon, but only on bits of inline assembler embedded in C ... I wouldn't have cared, but the comments popped up during a surprise visit from the CEO with a couple clients in tow looking to see how their customized version of the code was coming along. The customer knew Klingon. Including the cuss-words.

    1. Admiral Grace Hopper

      Re: Know your audience.

      I once had the pleasure of attending a marriage ceremony conducted in Klingon. Given the audience here, I'm sure I'm not alone in this.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Know your audience.

        You're not alone. The one I attended was in Skylonda, in maybe 1990 ... The setting was entirely too beautiful for the language and some of the costumes[0], but the bride was happy, so who am I to say.

        They are still married.

        [0] Me? I wore my racing leathers, as did my wife ... Not riding up there without 'em. (Yes, in response to the other thread, we did stop at Alice's for a cuppa coffee on the way home, why do you ask?)

    2. breakfast

      Re: Know your audience.

      Alright but I feel like if I was a customer who knew Klingon and saw code comments in Klingon I'd be happy enough to finally have a use for the language that it would balance out the content of the actual comments...

    3. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Know your audience.

      Should have used Kinitawowi (sounds like a footballer clearing their nose)

    4. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Know your audience.

      I feel like the overlap between "people who are fluent in Klingon" and "people who are very offended by cuss words" is likely to be quite small.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Know your audience.

        "I feel like the overlap between "people who are fluent in Klingon" and "people who are very offended by cuss words" is likely to be quite small."

        You are probably quite correct, in private. But context is everything.

    5. vogon00

      Re: Know your audience.

      Upvote for you, but please pass on the upvotes to the idiot, if for no other reason than their creativity and total commitment to geek-ery.

      I'm not overly concerned with the appalling idea of commenting in Klingon, given he was playing with inline ASM anyway:-)

      A long while ago, in a workplace far away, and shortly after we found a Klingon TTF, us engineers geeks enjoyed passing docs around with English text set to 'Klingon', and with the font embedded in the doc, We loved it...managers hated it as they generally didn't know enough to change the font back..

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Know your audience.

        I actually bought him a couple beers to compensate for the public dressing down (he and I both got yelled at by the above mentioned CEO). Gave him a well above average review, too. Good coder, nice guy, lived down the street from me for awhile. Last I heard he had founder's stock in a software company borged by alphagoo and has supposedly retired to a house out on the Sonoma coast. I should probably try to find him, he's a relative neighbor again.

  4. ShadowSystems Silver badge

    Just a quick question.

    If your product is not already available in a language, why did you let the marketing cockwomble survive long enough to complete the sale?

    It's a non trivial task to do a proper translation. It costs serious time, money, & employee hours of making sure every last bit of text/graphics have been properly translated lest a mistake cause the client to come after you with a hammer & a very bad attitude.

    A previous employer had asked me to do a quick & dirty English>German translation for them. I refused. They promised I'd not get in trouble. I flat out dug in my heels & said hell no. So they got someone else in the company to do it rather than pay for a professional job.

    Guess what? The German speaking customer the translation had been for found a few inappropriate translations, was _seriously_ not amused, and threatened to sue for libel. Why? Because the German words for some things is only a letter or two off other words that are slang for some very NSFW sexual acts with animals. Want to guess what the customer saw in screens that would have been their-customer-facing? Not. Good.

    The employee that did the translation got thrown under the bus. I felt bad for them because of that fact, but then I also told them not to do it unless they got that promise in writing first.

    If the sales turd sold the product with a promise that it would be made available in a different language, either take the cost of that professional translation out of said sales shit's pay, or publicly stand them up against a wall & shoot them with squirt guns filled with skunk stink. One way or the other, the dipshit needs to be made *painfully* aware never to do such shite ever again. =-|

    1. My-Handle Silver badge

      Re: Just a quick question.

      I used to work for a large multi-national company who sold websites alongside their main business. It was all highly templated stuff without many bells or whistles, the better to mass-produce them. Of course, said company also had an absolutely huge sales team, a few of which appeared to have no kind of respect for, or understanding of what a template was.

      So despite the fact that the whizziest feature we could offer was a slide show on the Home page (and nowhere else), the sales team were promising all kinds of things like user accounts, custom image upload galleries, the works. And whenever the back office couldn't fulfil said ludicrous promises, the customer's wrath always came down on us. Senior management didn't bother to reprimand the sales team, because "they were the ones making the money".

      I quickly arrived at the opinion that said company's name rhymed with "Hell" for a very good reason.

      1. Sam Liddicott

        Re: Just a quick question.

        > "they were the ones making the money"

        "Why do you need us then?"

    2. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge

      Re: Just a quick question.

      Nobody knows a foreign language well enough to do a proper translation, except trained professional translators.

      It's one thing to speak <insert language> with english words if you are at a conference or somewhere else; but it's an entirely different thing to do translation.

      My significant other is a professional translator, and the things that the non-translator people come up with when they translate themselves are at best hilarious at worst cringy and wrong.

      "The component X has been foreseen to do Y".

      False friends are not your friends, when it comes to translating languages.

      1. GlenP Silver badge

        Re: Just a quick question.

        As a multi-national we have various native language speakers on our staff but still generally use professional translators for anything important (either internal or external).

        1. Vincent Ballard

          Re: Just a quick question.

          I added a build step to spell-check the texts in our l10n files and produce a report on any words which weren't recognised. That's how I learnt that my Italian colleague consistently bodged the accent on più (more).

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Just a quick question.

        We must have all seen it on the instruction manuals that come with cheap electronic devices from far away.

        "When folding, please fold back the Show arms and then folded in front of the arm, Expand the opposite!"

        This from Eachine E58 folding drone quadcopter.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Just a quick question.

          I've been in an hotel that had the "in case of fire" notice on the back of the door clearly translated via Google. Where the English had "leave the hotel", the French corresponded to "do not take the hotel with you".

          1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

            Re: Just a quick question.

            And in Russian: "do not take the tractor with you"

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: Just a quick question.

          After putting together a power supply, in order to install it into the chassis I was once enjoined by the instructions to "offer up the assembly".

          Then there was the copy of the IBM assembly language manual for DOS that came with an early Japanese PC clone. It had obviously been translated from the original IBM version of English into Japanese and then back into supposedly standard English. It was fun to read (if you're into that kind of thing, and can grasp the humo(u)r), but from a technical point of view it was much less than worthless.

          1. peter_dtm

            Offer up a comment

            To offer a sub assembly up (to the location to which it will be attached) is correct (engineering) (right pondian) English.

          2. MrReynolds2U

            Re: Just a quick question.

            It might sound strange but the whole "offer up" thing is used quite extensively in UK lingo when assembling stuff.

          3. Potty Professor Bronze badge
            Boffin

            Re: Just a quick question.

            I used to translate German into (UK) English. I was asked to translate an instruction manual for a piece of recording equipment that originated in Italy. The German manual was almost unreadable, made very little sense, so it had obviously been translated from the original Italian version by a non-German speaker. I had to track down an original Italian manual and use that as the source material, and incorporate some of the German translation as well. I had my relative, who is an electronic engineer, look over the circuit diagrams, and he found a couple of mistakes in the Italian original that had been carried over to the German version, so we put them right in the final document. He also came up with a list of modern valves to replace the original obsolete ones. The (American) customer was well pleased with the result, and the equipment is now installed and working at a museum in Seattle.

      3. BOFH in Training Bronze badge

        Re: Just a quick question.

        I had a client, during my website days who wanted a mandarin version of their English site. Although they were mandarin speakers, they were not all that great with the formal variety.

        So we had to get an external translator, who claimed to be able to translate the site. After a week we got back a response and supposedly looked like a google translate job (according to the client). We had to get a second translator who seemed to have done a better job, as the client accepted that.

        Luckily I was not anywhere near the translation bit of the job.

        1. DougMac

          Re: Just a quick question.

          Google translate of english -> mandarin is horrible.

          Chinese teachers cringe when seeing it, and tell classes to avoid it at all costs.

      4. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Just a quick question.

        I worked for an international company. I simply put all the text in a DB table with a language column. The I created some stored procedures to read the text from the DB in the chosen language, defaulting to English if the chosen language wasn't there. A procedure to show them which text wasn't there in their language and a user that had the rights to modify their language comments.This of course worked in English too so the salesbods didnt have to get on my back every time they came up with something stupid. Did the same with CSS for their view of the site for the webs stuff.

        No professional translators required - everyone got control of their stuff and I didnt get woken up at first Adhan in Istanbul. Giving people responsibility for their part of the business has many many benefits.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just a quick question.

        I remember from school being told that you can't always do a straight word for word translation, you just had to get the idea or information across.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Just a quick question.

          General rule for me has been to get translations *into* the translator’s native language when critical, although nowadays English is frequently well understood by most people involved with international business (at least for those supplying the English-speaking world).

      6. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
        Holmes

        Lost in translation

        Many years ago, some of the Japanese semiconductor vendors would provide (translated) datasheets in English.

        Those suffered (in an amusing way, although it could be frustrating) from precisely this effect; one that comes to mind is NJR (now part of Nisshinbo apparently).

        I think they now employ properly trained translators.

      7. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just a quick question.

        > Nobody knows a foreign language well enough to do a proper translation

        Well that's not true. Lots of multilingual people with multilingual experience in a particular domain will be able to translate very adequately and usually better than a professional translator with poor subject domain knowledge.

        But agreed, in the general case you would want a professional translator working in close cooperation with your team (which is what I do)

        1. vogon00

          Re: Just a quick question.

          Back in the day, I was more-or-less bi-lingual in English and French*, including the argot, and so got to deal with the support calls from French customers. During a 'to board level fault diagnosis' call, and knowing the person on the other end of the phone well, I was able to substitute the word 'défectueux' with 'foutu' successfully....far more so than a non-French speaking, eavesdropping, colleague who thought they could get away with it in a later call...to someone more senior.

          Bonus points if, when in a crowded English restaurant, you can get someone with a strong Parisian accent to shout the name of the dog in 'The Magic Roundabout' as it was in the original French.

          [*] No longer it's seems...I'm sadly out of practice.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Just a quick question.

            Le Manège enchanté. if you name your servers after stars.

            The dog was actually a British character.

            1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

              Re: Just a quick question.

              tournicoti, tournicoton...

              (to be said in a bouncing voice of course)

      8. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: Just a quick question.

        "Nobody knows a foreign language well enough to do a proper translation, except trained professional translators."

        That's a slight misconception. Even if you don't speak a language well, you can produce decent translations with enough research, looking up every word in a dictionary, checking which synonym is actually appropriate, etc. Slow, painstaking work without good language-knowledge, but not impossible.

        The problem is more, as mentioned, when people who think they speak a language quite well decide to do approximate translations without putting the work in.

        Even professional translators, IME, spend a lot of time and effort making sure they have the right word for a given context.

        Generally, people seem to confuse interpreters and translators. The former need to know both languages well, but aren't expected to translate every nuance. The latter need to get it right.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Just a quick question.

          Even if you don't speak a language well, you can produce decent translations with enough research, looking up every word in a dictionary, checking which synonym is actually appropriate, etc.

          This might be good enough to produce something which can be literally understood, but it's going to fall down the moment you hit an idiom (see what I did there).

          The thing that most people who only speak a single language don't realise is that a language is not only a literal way to represent thoughts and ideas, but that a language, in its very structure, affects those thoughts and ideas, such that certain concepts are very peculiar to the language in which they are stated and don't have a direct translation. In other words, a language can't be separated from the culture to which it belongs. This extends even to different cultures that share a common language, such as the UK and US. Try asking to "bum a fag off someone" in the US and see how bruised you get.

          To get a good translation, the requirement is very simple. You need someone who is fluent in both languages, and who knows the subject matter. There's little point in trying to get a translation of a technical engineering paper by someone who doesn't understand engineering terms, for example. Terms like "work", "energy", "tolerance", "stress", and so on, with very specific technical meanings, are going to get mistranslated.

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: Just a quick question.

            a language can't be separated from the culture to which it belongs

            Very true. It's interesting to compare French and Canadian French, for example. The Candian variety tends to use more active constructions (like English), French French is often more passive.

            In a similar vein, the farewell recording on the Eurotunnel trains says "We hope you had a pleasant journey" in English, but in French it's "We hope your journey was pleasant". A small difference, but glaringly "unconventional" to a native speaker if you get the wrong one.

            1. phuzz Silver badge

              Re: Just a quick question.

              According to my French friends, the Canadians can't actually speak French.

              One friend even pretended to be Spanish, so that she wouldn't get dragged into conversations in 'French'.

              They do love being snobby about their language :)

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Just a quick question.

                According to my French friends, the Canadians can't actually speak French.

                They're probably right, Canadian programs shown on French TV are often subtitled in 'proper' French.

          2. Outski Silver badge

            Re: Just a quick question.

            Not just English, Malay and Java, which are really closely related, have some differences as well, for instance pusing which in Malay means "turn" but in Java can mean "dizzy" or "headache" as you give me a fucking headache [0]

            Also, some words that just don't translate, which was just as well when a four year old Outskette mentioned her bawak on the monorail in KL (goggle translate doesn't have a definition for it but it means fanny (en-gb) in Java)

            [0] Any excuse to post a video of the amazing Oly Oktavia

        2. Sam Liddicott

          Re: Just a quick question.

          The difficulty with the process you describe is that the non-expert can't tell when they have put enough work in to not embarrass themselves and others.

          Responding with "if you had just put more work in then you would have a got a good result" is just hand-waving.

      9. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Just a quick question.

        Nobody knows a foreign language well enough to do a proper translation, except trained professional translators.

        It's one thing to speak <insert language> with english words if you are at a conference or somewhere else; but it's an entirely different thing to do translation.

        There are some exceptions, experts on their subject and multilinguals come to mind. And for general and IT cases, I am a pretty competent translator (and interpreter) for English-Dutch and Dutch-English. Unfortunately, my German isn't at that level anymore due to lack of practice, but I once did a pretty fair job of translating the UI and help text of some software into German (rough draft translation to give a professional translator a good idea what it was all about, was returned with a compliments and a reduced fee).

      10. Zed 2

        Re: Just a quick question.

        At one point in time, I happened to come across a book that was clearly machine translated many times.

        The phrase "Don't sweat the small stuff" came out as "Don't perspiration the small fill tightly" was one of the best.

        1. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge

          Re: Just a quick question.

          I once came across a book, that was similarly either machine translated or translated by a bad translator.

          The phrase "Jesus, it's hot in here" or something to that tune was translated literally into my native language.

          Nobody starts an exclamation with "Jesus, <insert stuff>" in my language.

      11. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Just a quick question.

        the worst thing being to have to translate from en-US to en-GB...

      12. swm Silver badge

        Re: Just a quick question.

        At Xerox there was a natural language understanding project. They built a small database of airline schedules and let people try it out:

        "Book me a flight from San Diego to San Francisco."

        "I have a flight leaving at 12:00."

        "I'd like one a little closer to 6:00."

        "I have one at 12:01"

        [There was a flight at 6:00 but the customer specified "a little closer." He meant a lot closer.]

    3. Jason Bloomberg

      Re: Just a quick question.

      It's a non trivial task to do a proper translation.

      It often seems simple enough; replace literal strings in printf with a variable and load that for whichever language is used. A potentially large but straightforward task. Job done.

      Then comes the realisation that 'adjective then noun' rules and the like are not the same across languages, and can vary on the adjective or noun themselves. That printf then needs replacing and a more complicated and dynamic output constructor is required. And that's not as simple as it first appears.

      Those who promised it will swear the client will accept whatever they get. The client inevitably sees things differently. Sales will have moved on in search of the next bonus while the developers are bogged down in the minutiae of detail they don't themselves understand.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just a quick question.

      I worked on a design project with a Japanese company implementing a new generation ofone of their exisitng products. All the specification documentation had been translated from Japanese into English (and someone had dutifully applied a rubber stamped confidentially warning on every page!). I remember a day where we had a long design meeting trying to work out how to implement efficiently one particular corner of the specification where it said that if a specific operation failed with an exception then various items of state which ordinarily would have been modified in steps before the exception condition was detected (which was the case in the implementation) were required to be preserved. After some discussion of this one of the Japanese team members present suggested that we adjourn the discussions for a day while he checked something. Next day he came in and explained he'd checked the original japanese spec and discovered that the translators had missed out an important word from the translation ... the word was "not"

    5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Just a quick question.

      "why did you let the marketing cockwomble survive long enough to complete the sale?"

      The operative word here is "let". Short of terminating them with or without extreme prejudice before hand the sale would have been completed before anyone else even know about it. The salesman's mode of operation is sell first, tell afterwards and never ask.

      1. Chloe Cresswell

        Re: Just a quick question.

        Wasn't it just the other day someone here related a story of a sales weasels not just selling something that was outside the spec, but also not possible under the laws of physics?

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Just a quick question.

          Absolutely, 100%, par for the course.

          If only the fuckers stayed on the golf course, where they can't cause any real damage.

          1. Korev Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Just a quick question.

            And they can always be "introduced" to the club

          2. deep_enigma

            Re: Just a quick question.

            Oh hell no.

            The golf course is where they make all their biggest, bestest, most headache-inducing sales.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Just a quick question.

          NI protocol?

    6. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Just a quick question.

      Seems to be a non-trivial task writing English as well. "non" is not a word.

      1. Irony Deficient Silver badge

        “non” is not a word.

        “Non” is in the OED, so it’s an English word, albeit a Latin import with obsolete meanings:

        non (nɒn). [L. = not.]

        1. The first word in a large number of Latin phrases, chiefly legal, some of which have been in more or less frequent use in English contexts. The most important are entered as Main words.

        2. as sb. A negation or prohibition.

        3. Short for NON PLACET. Also attrib. in non-party.

        (The word “non-party” had its hyphen at the end of a line, and there isn’t a separate entry for the word, so my guess is that the hyphen would still have been used even if it weren’t at the end of a line. In this case, it does not represent the usual meaning of the English prefix “non-”, which has a different [and much longer] entry.)

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Just a quick question.

        Of course it's not a word in English, silly!

        It's a non-word unit of the language known as a "prefix". Has been since the days of Middle English, dating back to at least the mid 1300s.

        The hyphen is suggested, but not necessary, depending on which style guide you choose to adhere to.

        HTH, HAND

    7. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Just a quick question.

      If your product is not already available in a language, why did you let the marketing cockwomble survive long enough to complete the sale?

      Spot on.

      Its not just the language, there could be any number of things required in Italy not factored in to the code.

      Siesta breaks , mafia payoffs , anything .

    8. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: Just a quick question.

      Er... The story says it all ended fine. So that's why you'd do that. Revenue that increases by more than the costs.

      Obviously looking only at increased revenue without costs is daft, but so is looking only at increased costs without taking revenue into account.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Just a quick question.

        Did the translation costs outweigh the expected profits? One thing you can rely on would be the salesdroid not figuring that into the cost.

        1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

          Re: Just a quick question.

          I think I covered that.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just a quick question.

      If your product is not already available in a language, why did you let the marketing cockwomble survive long enough to complete the sale?

      You've clearly never met anyone who works in sales.

      We recently had to do some "internal training", which is a box-ticking exercise for the company to continue to be allowed to operate, or somesuch. This included "fraud and corruption training" (how not to, although the "course" name may be misleading).

      One of the items here describes in detail how it would be a criminal act of fraud to sell something to a client on false pretences. Apart from the obvious observation that this course, whilst mandatory for all employees, is clearly aimed at sales people, I can think of at least one instance, in the last couple of years, where this is exactly what the salesman has done, creating a whole world of ball-ache for everyone else in the organisation.

      Anon, for obvious reasons, although I suspect this tale is so commonplace, I could be anybody.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Just a quick question.

        I got caught with that one once. On joining the company I got given responsibility for a product which had been a director's first venture into C from Cobol which wasn't a good start. What made it worse was that the implementation wasn't fit to be sold as it stood. It had been developed in conjunction with a client who was obviously happy to let any one in any part of the organisation see the entire data set, not just the parts applicable to their job.

        In trying to straighten that out I ran into the director's abuse of the C pre-processor to create macros that were a bit Cobolish - let's call them Cobollocks. That would have been OK if I hadn't needed to change some instances; in the end I ran the whole lot through cpp and made that my starting point.

        Then, while I was starting to unpick the rest of the spaghetti in order to partition user access, sales promised a new customer that it would be more or less a drop-in for their existing application. Looking at that application I could see that our database design wasn't that close a match to the way it did things. Fortunately I managed to escape after a few weeks.

    10. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Just a quick question.

      Even Microsoft have made horrible NSFW errors with translations.

      It's an area fraught with peril and any non-native speaker who insists they know best is in for a world of pain - as are many native speakers. Neutral idiom is everything

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just a quick question.

        Even Microsoft have made horrible NSFW errors

        Too fucking true: Vista, Office, Skype, Clippy, XP, Active X, Windows Mobile, ....

        They've a long list of trainwrecks that are NSFW.

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Just a quick question.

          Audi e-tron in French speaking countries...

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Just a quick question.

        "Even Microsoft have made horrible NSFW errors with translations."

        This surprises you‽‽‽

        Have you not noticed that Redmond tends to fuck up everything it touches?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Just a quick question.

          I just want to point out that the German translation of "Microsoft Windows" is not "Microsoft Fenstern".

    11. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just a quick question.

      > The German speaking customer the translation had been for found a few inappropriate translations, was _seriously_ not amused, and threatened to sue for libel.

      I have great difficulty believing that story.

      The customer would have been aware that it was not a professional translation, if it was done by a non native. You would probably point out that the translation needs work and ask for it to be fixed (or a big discount) but that would be the end of the story.

      If it was done by a native, regional variations can sometimes be an issue, as expressions that are quite innocent in one place can be vulgar or have unintended connotations in others (more so than in English), but you normally spot what's going on straight away.

      The last option is that your translation was done by someone who knew feel well what they were doing, in a passive aggressive sort of way.

      1. jake Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Just a quick question.

        Saved me from typing it. Ta.

        Have a cold one.

      2. WhereAmI?

        Re: Just a quick question.

        "If it was done by a native, regional variations can sometimes be an issue, as expressions that are quite innocent in one place can be vulgar or have unintended connotations in others (more so than in English), but you normally spot what's going on straight away"

        I've lived in Northern Ireland for almost three decades. Prior to that I lived in England, mostly down in the West Country. I have an invisible language changeover switch in the middle of the Irish Sea that I have no control over and for which I'm quite grateful because much of the dialect in one place has absolutely no counterpart in the other. I've frequently found myself in the position of translating the conversation between my wife (Irish) and friends (English) because the idioms are just so different.

        1. H in The Hague Silver badge

          Re: Just a quick question.

          "... expressions that are quite innocent in one place can be vulgar or have unintended connotations in others .."

          I have a hazy collection that one of my process engineering books or dictionaries claims that the European Spanish word for 'heat exchanger' means 'brothel keeper' in South American Spanish (or the other way round, can't find the book right now).

          Any hispanophone Commentards out there who can help?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Just a quick question.

            Nope, that's not true.

            There are a few examples such as the verb coger, which in Iberian Spanish means to take (something) whereas in South America it refers to the coital act, or “correrse”, an intransitive verb meaning “to step aside” in Latin America and to ejaculate (or orgasm) in Spain.

            But a heat exchanger is just a great exchanger everywhere.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oops

    i was once explaining to a vague acquaintance of my wife's the size of the village in which I was living at the time, emphasizing how tiny it was by means of the illustration "Its so small the vicars wife has to double as the village hooker". With grinding predicatbility, the acquaintance smiled and calmly announced that her husband was indeed a vicar. I hid under a rock.

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Oops

      I'd like to think that I'd have had the presence of mind to follow that with "...and elsewhere on the women's rugby team the postmistress doubles as the scrum half..."

      1. ghp

        Re: Oops

        I'm not getting this one. Mind explaining?

        1. thosrtanner

          Re: Oops

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rugby_union#/media/File:Rugby_Union_Formation.svg

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oops

        Now *that* would have been a recovery to be proud of!

  6. Caver_Dave
    Happy

    Text files

    Back in the 1990's I produced a lap timing system (computer, timing beams, radio links, in-car telemetry) primarily for F1, but over the years it filtered down to other formulas and bikes.

    In the computer there was one EPROM with the 64K of assembler code and the other EPROM socket was loaded with the text that would appear on the screen.

    However, the laptops (Epson PX4) had limited screen size and text had to be abbreviated on almost ever screen.

    Everything was fine until a customer insisted that it had to be translated into French. (At their Magnicor site everyone had to speak French all of the time, despite the fact that the majority of the engineers were English.) Now, I could speak a liitle French, but even in those days I had enough sense to get a native French speaker to work out what the abreviations would have to be.

    I never had to have it translated into another language, but I received so much qudos for having the text in the seperate EPROM. I even confessed that it was only there because I had run out of space on the first EPROM and text was the best thing to place in a 'slower to access' second EPROM.

  7. PM from Hell
    Facepalm

    Don't forget to proofread

    I Worked with a Welsh Council many years ago who were sold a Council Tax application.it needed all customer facing documents translating into Welsh.Testing had gone reasonably well especially as the proposed legislation had not been passed before The application was written so changes were required several times a week. It took weeks and weeks to find an English / Welsh Translator willing to take the job on due to the tight timescales and the technical nature of the documents. The translator finished and handed over the translations, it had been a tough job as the text had to fit into the same size text boxes as the original English.

    On handing it over she asked the senior manager who he had engaged to do the proof reading. Needless to say another several weeks were spent finding somebody qualifies to perform the proofreading

    Timescales were incredibly tight as Bills needed to be sent out on time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't forget to proofread

      That perfectly illustrates the problem with Welsh, that even native Welsh people don't speak it as their first language. Hardly anyone can speak it properly. The only reason it still exists as a language is because of government intervention to try and stop it from dying out, by putting it on signposts and documents, and making it compulsory in schools.

      You could probably send out the documents with all kinds of errors in the Welsh text and nobody would ever notice because they will default to reading the English text.

      1. H in The Hague Silver badge

        Re: Don't forget to proofread

        "even native Welsh people don't speak it as their first language"

        Not sure that's correct, I think some of my more distant, youngish in-laws mostly spoke Welsh at home and at school.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't forget to proofread

        There was a story in the news a few years ago about a sign outside a Welsh car park. The council had sent an email with what they wanted translated, and they printed what was sent back.

        Turns out the message that was sent back was something along the line of an out of office message.....

        1. Giles C Silver badge

          Re: Don't forget to proofread

          You mean this one

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

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Don't forget to proofread

            Or this one:

            https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-46328404

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Don't forget to proofread

              I've done something similar on the police forms when I was arrested in Australia. I could put up with being arrested, just not by a bunch of illiterates.

  8. spireite Silver badge

    Alpha demos are usually peppered with sofwtare landmines.... and everyone does know it.

    I remember having a wait box that appeared for an alpha demo, that rather than saying 'Please wait - processing' said....

    'Always look on the briiiiiight side of life, duh, duh....duh,duh,duh, duh, duh duh'

    That certainly lightened up a room....

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      An embedded project I worked on had voice prompts.

      When an illegal request was made, the system responded, "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."

      In the appropriate voice, of course.

      Good for a laugh. Not sure it remained in the final prototype.

      1. Caver_Dave
        Happy

        Voice prompts

        I produced a system many years ago to measue the pH of cat urine (basically, the only simple means of measuring their health!) This was for a company that made cat food and they wanted to test the recipies.

        The cats were trained to urinate in a shower tray and my sensor was under the outflow. The pot had to be emptied and replaced after each filling and so I set up a voice annunciation to inform the staff of this. e.g. "Cat number 23 has urinated".

        It was so 'popular' that I also had to place an example on a button that the staff could press when they were conducting tours!

        1. R Soul

          Re: Voice prompts

          "I produced a system many years ago to measue the pH of cat urine"

          Beats working for TalkTalk. Or Vermin Media or BT or Crapita of Vodafone or...

        2. Gort99
          Joke

          Re: Voice prompts

          "I produced a system many years ago to measue the pH of cat urine"

          Now you really are taking the pee!

      2. Sequin

        I was messing about during my lunch breaks with the Microsoft Agent software and wrote a program that would monitor my email inbox and play a sound, followed by an agent (wizard, robot dog etc) character popping up, who would then read out the subject line of the email.

        One Friday, I forgot to switch it off and some colleagues, who were working over the weekend, were surprised to hear it announcing my emails when they arrived.

        I came in on Monday to find my inbox full of messages with the most disgusting subject lines you have ever seen! They had lots of fun that weekend.

  9. deanb01

    Bodge City

    Worked for a UK based fruit machine manufacturer a few years ago (Barcrest) that was purchased by a US gaming company (IGT). I was the sole developer on a project to put some more interesting aesthetics on their frankly dull one armed bandits. This involved replacing the neon-tube light box above the game with one that had its own CPU. The Barcrest code was a mixture of Forth and 6809, so plenty of voodoo involved.

    Got ushered into my bosses office at a later date with regards to my source code. Apparently the Nevada Gaming Commission took a dim view of some of the comments in my code, for example:

    ; Entering Bodge City in a bus with no brakes

    In my defence, I wasn't told my source code would be submitted.

  10. thosrtanner
    Headmaster

    The original translation reads: "All hope abandon ye who enter here."

    please try and get it right...

    1. Paul Kinsler Silver badge

      The original translation reads

      That might indeed be the original translation, but it doesn't scan as well as the popular version. So the discrepancy is probably just something we have to live with.

    2. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
      Devil

      Literal translations

      Many years ago I was a member of a Fleet Air Arm squadron (F-4 Phantom II aircraft) and the powers that were wanted to get 'up to date' and have the squadron motto in English rather than latin (as many were at the time).

      The motto was 'Strike Unseen', but the literal translation was 'Lash out blindly'.

      1. Admiral Grace Hopper

        Re: Literal translations

        Tangential, but it reminds me of something my uncle who served in Coastal Command in WWII used to say.

        "When we flew over, the Germans ducked. When the Germans flew over, we ducked. When the Yanks flew over, everybody ducked".

      2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Literal translations

        Apocryphal, most likely, but the Chinese translation for "out of sight, out of mind" is supposedly "invisible idiot"

        1. GlenP Silver badge

          Re: Literal translations

          Google Translate E-J-E gives:

          Invisible, out of my heart

          Which is precisely the problem, each phrase has been translated with no sense of the overall statement.

          1. tiggity Silver badge

            Re: Literal translations

            Indeed - fraught with danger.

            "Translation is easy.

            Ha Ha"

            UK English native speaker would (hopefully!) think the ha ha line conveyed a sarcastic laugh, a literal translator might end up with a description of a ditch and wall construction for keeping sheep off your land (what a "Ha Ha" is as a noun).

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Literal translations

          Arggh, no. Next I'll be hearing it as a failed Welsh translation?

          From the original project to automatically translate Russian to English, and when they realized someone else had an offshoot project to translate English to Russian. Usual short-circuiting attempted.

          (A professor of mine was a German who semi-participated in some defence oriented way...)

          The other more ambitious example was "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak". Became "the wine is good but the meat is rotten"

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Literal translations

        US military? Par for the course!

    3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Is the original Italian also non-idiomatic, then?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Problems with the vernacular crossed with syntax is precisely what people have been talking about all over this comments section.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Indeed, but it doesn't answer my question. The "original translation" is non-idiomatic English, so either it is a bad translation or it is preserving some non-idiomatic quality of the original Italian. I don't speak Italian, so I thought I'd ask someone who does.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            It's not a bad translation. It's a terrible one.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Nope, the original Italian (though it wasn't called Italian back then) is great.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Those old translations were usually quite approximate at best, and that's a good example.

      It simply follows the Italian word order, which works fine in Tuscan and many other romance languages but it completely and unnecessarily murders the more rigid SVO order of English sentences. It doesn't convey the original sense at all.

      1. Trixr

        Yes, totally agree. Just because a translation is older and has "ye" in it, it isn't necessarily any more accurate.

        And while an idiosyncratic word order might be more "poetic" in English sometimes, there's no point doing that if the original doesn't have a distinctive tense or style that you're trying to echo.

        One of my pet peeves is older translations of non-European languages that are full of "thee" and "thou" when the source language never had a distinction between the formal or informal "you". But translators thought it sounded more "exotic", so that's how they rendered it.

  11. MOH

    I worked in the Netherlands years ago, in a company which allowed no external internet access, but had an internal translation dictionary to allow us non-Dutch speaking people to look up words and save us having to ask every five seconds what fields on a screen meant.

    I was making an effort to learn the language and mailed my team lead a reply including a line of pidgin Dutch. He replied slagging my appalling grammar, I used the dictionary to look up the Dutch translation of a very mild insult (I think it may have been something like "fool") in response. I even took the precaution of checking the translation back to English first.

    He arrived at my desk two minutes later looking quite shocked and explaining I could be fired for what I'd just called him, which was one of the worst words I could use in Dutch. Turns out the dictionary was a little too complete and the Dutch side included numerous not-quite-synonyms for each translation which in this case had ranged from the mild to the extremely vulgar, and of course I'd randomly picked the worst. Helpfully the English side seemed to have been sanitised so there was no way of telling that.

    Lesson learned, don't rely on translation apps even if they're the company standard

    1. Flightmode

      Dutch insults and invectives tend to be very body-forward. Either they are disease-related (kanker-[0] is[1] a very common prefix), or they are simply body parts; the scrotum and its contents being very frequently included. These are bounded around quite freely between people.

      Then again, when we moved to Amsterdam in -99, my then-wife asked our relocation consultant what the worst Dutch swear was. After some (clearly uncomfortable) thinking she quietly whispered, "Godverdomme" (lit "Goddamnit"). When we told her it didn't sound too bad she said "it's so bad that when they have to use it in subtitles on TV[2], they just put "GVD" so as not to offend people.

      [0] Meaning cancer, not cankers.

      [1] Well, I say "is" even though I left Amsterdam in 2007. I'm assuming insults don't change that much over time.

      [2] The Dutch subtitle everything rather than dub it. I learned a lot of Dutch from watching episodes of Dawson's Creek, Friends and Melrose Place I'd seen back home a couple weeks earlier before moving.

      1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        Re: GVD

        In my experience, in some European countries the swear-o-meter is particularly sensitive around religiously-themed swears. Years ago I rather horrified a continental acquaintance be referring to someone being a devil to work with. IIRC they suggested that "a f***er to work with" would actually have caused less of an intake of breath.

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

          Re: GVD

          Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries!

        2. Flightmode

          Re: GVD

          You have a point, and while I would expect that in catholic countries around the Mediterranean sea, the Dutch never struck me as a very religious people. Then again, the Nieuwe Kerk (lit. the New Church) in Amsterdam is from the 15th century. (The Oude Kerk, right in the middle of what's now the Red Light District was opened in 1306.)

          1. F. Frederick Skitty

            Re: GVD

            Most Italian curses and insults reference religious stuff - "pig f*cking god" is the translation of one of the more common ones.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: GVD

              There are two kinds of expletives in Italian: “parolacce” and “bestemmie”. The former refer to vulgarities, while the latter have an element of blasphemy.

              1. JulieM

                Re: GVD

                It's more or less the same in English! "Effing", obviously named for the F-word, is mostly biological in origin; whereas "blinding" (from "God blind me!", which got corrupted to "cor blimey") is mostly theological in origin.

                "Bloody" -- which you might naïvely think was obviously effing -- is actually an example of blinding, as it is a corruption of "by our lady".

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: GVD

          Umberto Eco wrote about this in, I think, “Dire quasi la stessa cosa” (Experiences in translation, in English, which is a bit meta).

          Romance cultures tend to be far less shy when it comes to religious references compared to Germanic cultures.

          I can attest to this as a speaker of both romance and Germanic languages. A memorable outburst from a Catalan guy I heard once included scatological references to Our Lord's fried testicles and His mother's allegedly unvirtuous occupation. And he was only very mildly annoyed about something trivial.

    2. WanderingHaggis
      Facepalm

      Even going from British to American English I've found that some variance in forcefulness and crudeness. The problem now is I've worked with so many non Queen's English folk that I forget what is acceptable where. There in lies trouble.

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        I picked up 'can I wash my hands' from yanks as a euphemism for needing to use the bathroom. It always amuses when the answer is 'sure, you can use the sink in the break room' or similar.

        1. Zarno

          "I'll be back, need to use the little squirrels room." is one I sometimes use.

          I've also learned that saying someone is "powdering their nose" can mean a totally different thing involving "snow".

          Tends to tell you more about a site when someone makes that connection vs the normal "is using the restroom".

      2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Even going from British to American English I've found that some variance in forcefulness and crudeness. The problem now is I've worked with so many non Queen's English folk that I forget what is acceptable where. There in lies trouble.

        It is quite easy, Americans get offended by colourful language, British (like Europeans) get offended by guns. As far as I am concerned, those Americans are mewling quims ;)

    3. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      I was making an effort to learn the language

      Dutch isn't a language, it is a secret code foreigners aren't supposed to learn, but I think you already discovered that for yourself.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not heard the expression "double Dutch"?

        1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

          Maybe he skipped that

        2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Not heard the expression "double Dutch"?

          That is Greek to me ;)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "...an internal translation dictionary..."

      I would love to know the thought process of whoever considered that including so-offensive-you-could-get-fired swearing in an internal document designed to help foreigners communicate with their local work colleagues was a good idea. What did they think would happen? Why wasn't it marked with "Do Not Use This Word" in big bold letters?

      1. Rob Daglish Bronze badge

        Re: "...an internal translation dictionary..."

        Yes, it did say don't use this word. Except it was in Dutch...

    5. I don't know, stop asking me.

      Now you have me wondering what Dutch swearword you were using.

      As a native Dutch speaker, I really can't come up with any word that would be shocking. Inappropriate in a professional environment yes, but shocking no.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In a previous job - had an app that supported some European major languages (can't remember which ones), and a saleman that promised a Belgium customer that "We can translate it into Belgium for you, no problem!"

    1. Charlie van Becelaere
      Pint

      translate it into Belgium

      "In a previous job - had an app that supported some European major languages (can't remember which ones), and a saleman that promised a Belgium customer that "We can translate it into Belgium for you, no problem!""

      I'll be happy to proofread it for you, for an appropriate fee. (see icon)

    2. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

      for a translated application to work properly in Belgium without risking offending anybody, it would need to be able to detect if the user is Walloon or Flemish before anything is displayed on the screen...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        …or German

  13. msobkow Silver badge

    I've always wondered how accurate "translators" are when you travel. I have a very strong suspicion they candy-coat things the populace is saying for their client tourists.

  14. phy445

    In the spirit of the story...

    Google Translate came up with: Leave all hope, you who enter

    Whilst Bing mangled things into: Leave every hope, you who entertain

    For British English Deepl managed to get: Abandon all hope, ye who enter in

    For US English Deepl went with: Leave ogne hope, ye who enter in

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In the spirit of the story...

      Read somewhere where they were testing translators by translating the same phrase back and forth,

      The sprit is strong, but the flesh is weak.

      becomes

      The vodka is good, but the meat is rancid

      1. thosrtanner

        Re: In the spirit of the story...

        There used to be a game why you put an english phrase into google translate, asked it to translate to japanese. then translate the japanese back to english. repeat until the translation returned the same english phrase twice. You could get quite a lot of iterations with some phrases.

        That was quite fun

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: In the spirit of the story...

          Nowadays the fun is in reading YouTube's machine generated subtitles, especially in languages other than English, such as those spoken north of Hadrian's wall.

          1. vogon00

            Re: In the spirit of the story...

            "fun is in reading YouTube's machine generated subtitles".

            And there was me thinking I was the only one who noticed.

            Part of my aversion to 'AI' or 'ML' is caused by the output of whatever generates these subtitles. You sort of expect errors in translation, and the 'Audio to text' task is hard in the first place, but the audio--> text error rate is far too high for my liking. It's only the odd word missing or mis-translated but this is usually more than enough to skew the text into something a long way from the audio. I guess the 'English Audio to {Other language}' task is harder and more prone to error, especially as us flesh-sacks can't do that properly either!

            It's one thing to argue about translation with a human.....but how do you argue with a machine about it's translation? Personally, I can't wait for someone in the legal community to submit/try to use some machine-translated text and expect it to remain unchallenged.

  15. aregross

    Back in the '80s...

    ...when the IBM AT was brand new, my first IT job was at a chain that sold IBM exclusively (what else was there!) and the push was on to sell as many units as possible. I was assigned the task of un-boxing and setting up new ATs for customers.

    While formatting the hard drive you were asked to name the volume. Every machine as part of the boot process was to run chkdsk /f in the autoexec.bat which would display the volume name and then the hard drive stats. I decided to name them all "Buying Pays" so when chkdsk would run it would then display "Volume Buying Pays".

    The store manager had a potential customer in to demonstrate the shiny new AT. Of course when it booted up the first line on the screen was "Volume Buying Pays". After the demo I was 'instructed' to never do that again. Don't know why, I thought it was Clever Marketing! He didn't agree....heh

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Back in the '80s...

      He probably wasn't offering volume discounts.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Back in the '80s...

      I knew someone who called his desktop system "elvis", just so he could type "ping elvis" and get the response "elvis is alive".

  16. Greenwich_Stuart

    Tangentially related...

    Once had a client issue with some well-know PPM software - an obscure crash with meaningless/generic exception message when certain input criteria were met.

    As I was considered to be the 'one-eyed man', I was tasked with tracing the problem. Time passed as I installed the appropriate coding/debugging tools (I wasn't/am not a developer), downloaded the code packages and de-compiled the code ('Support' weren't).

    Days passed as I slowly (a) learn't the debug tools, (b) learn't the coding language (did I say I am not a developer?) and traced a path through the code. Finally, there it was, in plain sight in the code, just where the clients unusual input criteria had taken me - the developers comment 'We should never get here'

  17. BatMansOtherHalf

    Its a much larger job than you think

    Worked for a firm that wrote applications for banks. We had sold a application to numerous foreign customers and they were happy to have it in English as all the users needed to use English in their jobs. Until we got a French customer who wanted it translated to French. It was agreed that we should ensure that all strings/UI components were in translatable resources and then the customer would do the translation and we'd build the app with their translated resources. So not an insignificant amount of work later we had the resource files and set them to the customer. After a few weeks the customer saw the size of the task and decided their users would use the English version just like everyone else.

  18. trevorde Silver badge

    If only our app supported...

    Worked on a desktop app many years ago with a *lot* of fancy UI. We localised it into the usual languages (English, French, German & Italian) and some not so usual ones (Polish).

    About every 18 months, sales would come in and say:

    "If it only it supported Arabic, we could sell thousands of licenses and make the company loadsa dosh!"

    Arabic is a RTL (right to left) language which *really* messes up the UI. Supporting this is non-trivial.

    We would then spend a lot of effort, translating all the UI strings, testing, finding and fixing all the bugs.

    Number of additional sales: zero

  19. Sequin

    My boss asked a client what the syetm should do if somebody tried to access an area they were not supposed to. "it should tell them to bugger off!" was the reply.

    When demonstrated, the system (running on MSDOS before the days of GUIs) scrolled up a message in ASCII block characters which said "BUGGER OFF!" in red (my involvement was to have it play the Monty Python theme through the PC speaker while scrolling - all written in Assembler)

    For some reason the client's boss was not happy!

  20. Zarno

    I have a utility that dumps "Something went haywire." to shell when it gets a dirty exit/unhandled input.

    I've also left a "Hello Tim, what do you want me to do today?' (Tim being the project lead.) screen popup easter egg in a system once, that triggered whenever someone plugged in the programming cable after partially disassembling the machine to get at the port.

    I figure if their name wasn't Tim, they didn't need to be in there, or know how to get there, so they would never see it, and if they did, they'd wonder who Tim was.

  21. Jason Bloomberg
    Headmaster

    American -> British

    I wish Disney, perhaps others, would stop announcing "All films and promotions may not be available in all territories" for their previews.

    It's not good for my blood pressure.

    1. nintendoeats Silver badge

      Re: American -> British

      What's wrong with that?

      The following will return true.

      bool CheckDisney'sClaim()

      {

      bool Result = true;

      for (auto Thing : AllFilmsAndPromotions)

      {

      if( ! Thing.MayNotBeAvailableInAllTerritories)

      {Result = false; break;}

      }

      return Result;

      }

      EDIT: Sorry, the comments section ate my whitespace.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: American -> British

        Not all films and promotions may be available in all territories.

  22. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Does

    testing out our new engraving software with engraving something with "FOR DESTRUCTIVE TESTING ONLY" and "FOR FEKS SAKE DONT PUT THIS ON AN AIRCRAFT" on the other side count?

    Guess where we got a phone call from..... after our customer had assembled the fitting using that plate and then sent it on to their customer...

    Also they complained about the lack of labeling on the part for destructive testing and the fact they were 1 plate short.....

    And my boss wonders why I sit in my car outside sobbing sometimes......

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Does

      Attempting to idiot-proof something only results in more imaginative idiots.

      // points for engraving both sides, though.

  23. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    People have funny ideas about Salespeople. Personally, I try and avoid dealing with them.

    At work, a few years back, one of our lecturers was talking to me about how I go about finding which equipment to recommend. I said that when I'm given a task that needs a given piece of equipment, I read up in any relevant magazines, and look on relevant website to determine the best piece of equipment.

    He told me I was wrong to do this, as magazines and websites can be bought. I need to go direct to the company sales people. To which I pointed out that the only reason they can't be bought is because they are the ones who would be doing the buying.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re translation

    My experience as a programmer ( Native speaking English ), working in a French company was it was better to

    improve my French to read original French Documents rather than wait 6 months for a badly translated technical

    document ( Badly translated as original document was deeply technical so a lot of field specific information was

    'Lost in Translation' ).

  25. heyrick Silver badge

    a couple of salespeople, one of whom was entirely pointless

    Only one?

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