Which stupid error message is your favorite?

by Volker Weber

Chris was amused by an overflow message. Time to remember some of the stupidest and most unintuitive messages ever. Clear winner:

os/2 boot error

This happened when you left a floppy formatted by OS/2 in the drive and rebooted your computer. Windows would tell you that you should open that drive and restart. But not OS/2. OS/2 was to be completely internationalized. The boot record contained only the error codes, and it was to use a string table to look up the correct text:

OS/2 !! SYS01475 - boot record not found
OS/2 !! SYS02027 - boot error

The only problem was: without being able to boot, there was no string table. So the boot loader could only throw both errors. And the user would be left scratching their heads. Broken by design. Instead of risking a confusion by a foreign language, IBM made sure nobody would ever understand the error message.

It was also a great marketing drive. Users all over the world who would have a floppy from a visiting friend in their drive quickly leanred: "OS/2 broke my computer. It does not work anymore."

Comments

Well, there's this, though it's more funny than stupid.

Chris Linfoot, 2007-08-30

Anyone remember OS/2 & Binkley? :)

Gabor Ivanyi, 2007-08-31

Oh I love OS/2. I have recently set up a virtual OS/2 box in a MS Virtual PC environment. It was so realistic that a virtual crash corrupted the virtual hard drive.

Michael Adams, 2007-08-31

@Gabor: Nah, switched to Cantaloup pretty fast.

Stefan Rubner, 2007-08-31

My favorite Notes application error was : "Error. No error". It was happening with a Notes helpdesk application (Help!) we used at the ISP call center I worked in. We even made t-shirts with that dialog box.

Eric Garneau, 2007-08-31

Although I do love and remember that OS/2 one, I'd have to vote for this one: Please give me NO clues about how to solve

Craig Wiseman, 2007-08-31

But to be fair, the idea that every error message has a unique error code and the text comes from a table is good and there is only a problem in this special case. But think how often you have no clue how to search for a solution with a translated error message if the knowledgebase of the product is only in english. So i prefer to search for SYS01475 in the knowledge base than for the error message "Fehler beim starten".

Ralf M Petter, 2007-08-31

And there are useless but beautifull error messages too.

http://a248.e.akamai.net/7/248/51/1062271121180590/www.info.apple.com/images/kbase/106227/106227_3.jpg

You have no clue what happened, and what you can do to avoid the problem, but looks very nice.

Ralf M Petter, 2007-08-31

My favorite is Unexpected exception in Websphere Application Server...

Hans-Peter Kuessner, 2007-08-31

"Keyboard not found. Press F1 to continue." (Keep in mind that hot-plugging hardware was not supported in back in the day.)

Stan Rogers, 2007-08-31

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.

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