[buug] [OT?] Software Engineering, Microsoft, funny(?)

Chris Miller lordsauronthegreat at gmail.com
Fri Jul 3 21:36:23 PDT 2009

On Jul 3, 2009, at 7:59 AM, Michael Paoli wrote:

> Perhaps/likely mostly semi-/rather/highly? off-topic, but in any case
> ...
> If you were at the BUUG meeting yesterday evening, you may have gotten
> to hear a dramatic reading of ... :-) (unfortunately I don't think  
> quite
> everyone was there at the same time, due to some variability in folks
> arrival/departure schedules ... perhaps also due to holiday weekend  
> and
> such).
> Anyway, ... some wee bits of software engineering points of (rather
> broad and general) note, but, mostly a (somewhat/rather) tongue-in- 
> cheek
> (and hopefully enough trace of humor to help ease the pain a bit)
> commentary upon a too typical example one of many reasons I tend to
> quite dislike Microsoft.
> I'd sent this email to a fair chunk of my coworkers (to a technical
> list/alias, and CCed to a broader, but lower priority semi-random  
> stuff
> type list/alias also).
> So, without (much) further ado (very slightly redacted, and I dropped
> out the not-so-interesting reference at the end to a fair bit of an
> earlier email I'd sent) ...
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Michael Paoli
> Sent: Thursday, July 02, 2009 2:52 PM
> To: <redacted>
> Cc: <redacted>
> Subject: Gotta love Microsoft! <cough, cough>
> Importance: Low
> Well, it would seem most probable that this Blue Screen Of Death  
> (BSOD)
> seen repeatedly upon redocking:
> "
> *** Hardware Malfunction
> Call your hardware vendor for support
> NMI: Parity Check / Memory Parity Error
> *** The system has halted ***
> "
> is the charming manner in which Microsoft uses XP to so graciously,  
> and
> with Microsoft's such uncanny accuracy, inform the user that the VGA
> type video cable attached to the docking station isn't fully and
> properly seated/attached at the monitor end of that cable.

In Microsoft's defense that's probably a video driver issue, or at  
least a problem with how the video card is handling errors internally  
in firmware.

> After struggling repeatedly over two days with severe Wi-Fi
> non-operability issues, issues upon [un]docking (including multiple of
> those subtle charming indicators of issue noted above), and towards  
> the
> tail end of that string of inconveniences, problems getting external
> video to work at all - it was discovered that said video cable
> connection had managed to become loose and the cable was no longer
> properly seated upon the connector.  Upon properly reseating and
> securely attaching the video cable to the monitor, everything started
> working properly again, and has continued to do so thus far quite
> reliably - including running through numerous dock/undock transitions
> and many transitions from wired Ethernet LAN to Wi-Fi and back - many
> repeated cycles now, with no signs of the earlier problems recurring
> (which had been quite frequent/persistent, and repeated).  I think  
> this
> likely also has something to do with Microsoft's marvelous
> Plug-aNd-Play (PNP) technology - how it so nicely automatically  
> detects
> and deals with attaching/removing hardware, and helps gently alert
> users to the fact that something may not be 100% correct with  
> hardware.
> Thank you Microsoft, for continuing to deliver that utmost of
> reliability, robustness, fault tolerance, and highly helpful error
> messages and diagnostics we've all come to love and expect from you.
> footnotes/references/excerpts:
> 1. Paraphrasing myself - as I've repeatedly said for a very long time
>    now:  Error diagnostics are often the least exercised software code
>    - so take what they say with a grain of salt.  E.g. they'll often  
> be
>    somewhat close or related to the issue, but often not precisely  
> spot
>    on.

I find that the system administration logs are thousands of times more  

Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Event Viewer

> 2. In the case of Microsoft, that "grain" of salt should be  
> appropriate
>    sized block, e.g. 50 lb. cattle sized salt lick block or larger,
>    e.g.:
>    http://tinyurl.com/lc9vw5
>    http://tinyurl.com/n84kcb
>    http://tinyurl.com/nx9lqv
>    http://tinyurl.com/n8fo35
>    http://tinyurl.com/nvjxar

Holy crap, those of us here in Mac land just got totally dehydrated  
looking at that.

> 3. Never underestimate the extremes to which Microsoft will go to
>    enhance and create highly memorable user experiences, create  
> software
>    of such remarkable quality, and produce standards of such levels of
>    reliability.

You think that's bad, you should have tried Windows 98.  If you have,  
then the phrase "VXD error" should put you into a state of absolute  

> 4. 3rd party software (e.g. video drivers) may also share in the
>    credit/blame - in such cases Microsoft often likes to play the  
> blame
>    game (and likewise for the 3rd party).  I like how Microsoft
>    operating systems are able to run so well and independently of any
>    such 3rd party software <cough, cough> ... well, ... if you don't
>    need any video output anyway ... or likely also any keyboard or
>    pointing device input, etc., ... or audio or network output or  
> input.

Yes, I love how my $250 NVIDIA graphics card is all but worthless  
because of the drivers.  It freaks out and completely freezes the  
machine from time to time - no matter what OS I'm on (I've tried it  
with Vista, Gentoo, Open SuSE, and Ubuntu).

Then whenever I remove my USB wifi dongle in Vista it creates a new  
wifi device when I re-insert it.  Why I have four wifi adapters and  
only one functional I'll never know!

Registered Linux Addict #431495
For Faith and Family! | John 3:16!

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