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One of the few satisfactions available in the grim and boring work of constructing software is writing error messages: those little profoundly confusing things that pop up on a userís screen and explain not only that she has failed in what she wanted to

One of the few satisfactions available in the grim and boring work of constructing software is writing error messages: those little profoundly confusing things that pop up on a userís screen and explain not only that she has failed in what she wanted to do, but that the reasons for her failure are both pathetically simple and far too complicated for her to grasp. The trouble is that all the best ones were written years ago by Douglas Adams, long before personal computers. He also wrote the best answer: "Do what I want, now, or I will reprogram your memory banks with a large axe." Some machines will pretend not to understand this message. My advice is to hit them with an axe anyway. If they were fooling, it will teach them better. If they didnít understand, think of your action as a hint to evolution.

The other candidate for axe-murder are the programmers who try to improve on Douglas Adams. My aged mother just rang in a state of utter confusion because she had received an email that read: " Hi. This is the qmail-send program at monsoon.dial.pipex.net. I'm afraid I wasn't able to deliver your message to the following addresses. This is a permanent error; I've given up. Sorry it didn't work out." From this she is supposed to deduce that she mistyped an email address.

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