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Ridiculous Software Bug Workarounds? 655

theodp writes "Ever get a workaround for a bug from a vendor that's so rigoddamndiculous that there has to be a clueless MBA or an ornery developer behind it? For example, Microsoft once instructed users to wiggle their mouse continuously for several minutes if they wanted to see their Oracle data make it into Excel (yes, it worked!). And more recently, frustrated HP customers were instructed to use non-HP printers as their default printer if they don't want Microsoft Office 2007 to crash (was this demoed in The Mojave Experiment?). Any other candidates for the Lame Workaround Hall of Fame?"
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Ridiculous Software Bug Workarounds?

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  • Run Windoze much?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by VorlonFog ( 948943 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:11AM (#28081807) Homepage Journal

    HP and Microsoft repeatedly suggest re-installing the operating system to cure a network configuration issue.

    • Re:Run Linux much? (Score:5, Informative)

      by TaoPhoenix ( 980487 ) <> on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:31AM (#28081927) Journal

      Funny, I've had people tell me to reinstall the new Linux(here, uBuntu) updated set instead of updating it.

      Maybe I'm a bad luck magnet, but last time I tried to update it pulverized X.

      With apologies to Staples:
      "That Was Fun!"

      • Re:Run Linux much? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Jurily ( 900488 ) <jurily@g m a i l . com> on Monday May 25, 2009 @10:15AM (#28082901)

        Maybe I'm a bad luck magnet, but last time I tried to update it pulverized X.

        Hence the recommendation to reinstall.

        Linux isn't really designed to handle big updates. Small and frequent, yes, but don't even think about lagging more than 3 versions behind on any given package. Before you flame me, I've had this experience on many different distros over the last five years, and GoboLinux was just about the only one shielded from the breakage by cleanly separating versions, and keeping the old one.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hedwards ( 940851 )

        It's better to just reinstall, but it's not something that is technically required. I personally reinstall just so that I don't have to worry about inconsistencies popping up latter because I changed a few settings.

        Well, that and the fact that an upgrade is a good time to dispose of software that's just sitting there, and a lot less work than trying to track down unused dependencies after you remove said programs.

    • Microsoft recommends increasing your system stability by leaving your scanners not plugged in. []

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Big Nothing ( 229456 )

      I remember back in the Windows days, there were various stability and malware problems that could only be fixed by installing Linux, *BSD or some other high-quality OS. Ridiculous, I know, but true nonetheless. As a bonus though, the TCO was significantly reduced, so basically it was a win-win situation.

  • by Nyall ( 646782 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:13AM (#28081817) Homepage

    urban dictionary = idiots making up words.
    At 27 years old I am now an old fart.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:19AM (#28081855)

      John Wayne made it up:

    • by cerberusss ( 660701 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:30AM (#28081921) Homepage Journal

      urban dictionary = idiots making up words.
      At 27 years old I am now an old fart.

      UUuuh hello??! Rigoddamndiculous is a perfectly cromulent word!

  • RE (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:14AM (#28081821)
    Biggest work around? I'd say having to use windows to do my job.
    • Re:RE (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 25, 2009 @09:11AM (#28082241)

      Biggest work around? I'd say having to use windows to try to do my job.

      There, fixed that for you.

    • Re:RE (Score:5, Insightful)

      by chrish ( 4714 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @09:13AM (#28082253) Homepage

      There should be a +1, Sad But True.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mcvos ( 645701 )

      Biggest work around? I'd say having to use windows to do my job.

      Fortunately I don't have to use Windows for my job, but I do like playing games at home. Games that have only been written for Windows.

      My options for work-arounds are:

      • Install an OS I don't want and reboot to a different OS if I want to play a game, or
      • Try to get it working in Wine, Cedega or PoL

      All of these workarounds are cumbersome and stupid, and none of them are particularly appealing.

  • Profiling? (Score:5, Informative)

    by tal_mud ( 303383 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:15AM (#28081825)

    A profiler was crashing when I tried to find bottlenecks in my code. The support rep. told me I should turn off optimization.

  • by VShael ( 62735 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:18AM (#28081845) Journal

    but it was back in the days of Windows 95. I was working in software Localisation for a Lotus Notes product. We had several machines working in the test lab based on ghost images, so they were all pretty much identical.

    One of the machines kept dying on us during the test phase, but none of the others did. Very confusing, for about a day. Until we realised that the machine which was crashing had an audio CD in the drive. (Not playing, not in Explorer. Just present in the drive.)

    We verified it by swapping the audio cd into other machines, and running the same tests. Invariably, the machine with the CD in, crashed when we tried to perform task "x" in Lotus Notes.

    It was escalated up, as I recall. And we eventually got a note back saying "Don't put CD's in the CD-Rom drives."

    I still remember it (as a recent graduate) as my first exposure to management-style thinking.

  • by cyber-vandal ( 148830 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:20AM (#28081861) Homepage

    Double click on a document. Word sits there for what seems like hours saying something like "Connecting to default printer. Press ESC to stop" so you give up and press ESC and start editing the document. Word promptly crashes. The workaround - set the default printer to Microsoft XPS and select the printer manually when you need it and wait the eternity it takes to communicate with the network printer. And sometimes it crashes again. WTF?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by anss123 ( 985305 )
      I had an older version of Word and I wanted to make an A3 document - but my printer only supported A4. I was forced to find a machine with an A3 printer and create an A3 document there then take that back to my machine.... Fortunately Office 2007 has at least fixed that idiotic issue.
    • by orangesquid ( 79734 ) <> on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:58AM (#28082137) Homepage Journal

      WinXP has issues connecting to Win98 SMB printers via TCP or NetBEUI when connected to a DOS6 network running LANtastic. It would take about 15 minutes to find the printer and about 10 minutes to send a small document. There was no problem browsing the network, though.

      LANtastic had some suggested workarounds (changes to how broadcast packets are routed by LANtastic nodes and changes to the TCP and SMB configs in Win98, mostly involving registry hacks), but it turns out the only reliable workaround I found was to install an lpd emulator on Win98 that connected locally to the printer, and then have WinXP connected to lpd. It worked quite reliably and was quicker at connecting than I'd ever seen an SMB printer be. That wasn't an official workaround, though, just something I tried on a hunch.

      I remember in the early days of libtool... depending on what version of automake tools were included in a package, what version of the automake tools you had elsewhere on your system, your version of libc, the version of bash you used, the versions of make and gcc you had installed, and the veerssion of text-utils and sh-utils you had, sometimes libtool would generate very long command strings with hundreds of redundant arguments, and then call itself to "simplify" the arguments but actually recurse with an even longer string, until bash segfaulted and your login session crashed.

      There was never really a workaround for ttha... just "try different veersison of thinggs, you might needto downgrade automake, or mix and match different veersison of auttoocnf, automake, and libtool." Quite wonderful, I tell you.

      gcc2.7.2.3 (the really stable version you had to compile the linux kernel with for quite some time) had some weird bug that didn't really have an official workaround, either. Somehow if you did pointer calculations on the function argument list (like varargs or stdarg) andn the called another function, the last local variable of the called function couldn't be written until it was read. I remember having to do something like printf("", a); before a statement like a=4; would work. Of course, then you'd get a warning about using an uninitialized variable, but... The funny thing was, I seem to recall that only would happen when optimizations were turned *off*. Turning them on made the bug go away, which made it really frustrating to track down. It ended up being something like gcc subtracting the wrong multiple of 4 from the stack pointer (under all the aforementioned conditions) in the block of asm that set up the stack frame. Of course, gcc2.81 and 2.95.2 had their own issues, and egcs wasn't much better... It wasn't until gcc3.2 where I didn't need multiple versions of gcc (one for the kernel, one for the program I was working on, and one that compiled c++ code correctly!!)

      I remember MatlabR11 having broken CSV-file-parsing routines. The workaround? Write your own. The Matlab compiler was also moving to a new system (MEX), but there were lots of things that didn't work yet, and the previous compiler system was officially deprecated. Then, the next release of Matlab required 92MiB of DLLs to be installed as a Matlab runtime if you wanted to distribute anything you compiled with the Matlab compiler... and much of that runtime was broken Java libraries. A lot of the official suggestions for working with structured data that involved strings required many layers of nested cell objects, which had their own compilation issues. Again, the workaround was to convert string tables into padded numeric matrices of UInts. Of course, most of the matrix manipulation functions only worked with Real numbers, so you had to convert back and forth, and be careful about what type of rounding/flooring/ceilinging you were doing...

      VB6 had a broken val() that returned the wrong values for ASCII characters in the range 160 through 184 (I think),, butthere wasn't realalyy n conssitent pattern. MSDN and the Microsoft KB gavee th official workaround: write your own val().

      Early versions of t

      • Good heavens! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Petersko ( 564140 )
        "WinXP has issues connecting to Win98 SMB printers via TCP or NetBEUI when connected to a DOS6 network running LANtastic. It would take about 15 minutes to find the printer and about 10 minutes to send a small document. There was no problem browsing the network, though."

        So what, in the end, did the one person to ever have this problem do about it? Sorry! Couldn't help myself.
  • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:21AM (#28081865)
    IIRC, a few GNU encryption programs do the same thing while collecting entropy, and yell at you if you don't wiggle enough.
  • Google Docs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cerberusss ( 660701 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:24AM (#28081871) Homepage Journal

    In March, the Google Docs team introduced the Drawings feature. Now you can create drawings, schematics etc. in your Google Docs document. Now when you want to print your doc, or export it to some other format than HTML, then you get a nice error message [].

    If you want to export or print, the workaround for the last three months has been... not to use drawings in your documents! Great feature!

  • by Linker3000 ( 626634 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:28AM (#28081907) Journal

    Oh yes:

    We run a database-oriented app in a number of branches. It's so flaky that runtime errors are a daily occurrence.

    The devs' response to reports of errors is usually:

    a) Defrag the disk.
    b) Stop the users typing so fast.


    • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:40AM (#28082011) Homepage Journal
      20 years ago I worked with an application on VMS. It used some form based UI tool which you get with the OS. (was it ACMS? I can't remember now) anyway you could set a timeout on a form which kicked you back to another screen if you didn't complete it within a specified time. One form with 20 fields or something had a timeout of ten seconds. There was something strange about the guy who wrote that...
    • by Aero ( 98829 ) <erwin71m@gmail. c o m> on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:42AM (#28082031)

      b) Stop the users typing so fast.

      Typing too fast caused people to die, in one case: []

      Specifically, go down to near the bottom of the entry where it mentions that: [t]he equipment control task did not properly synchronize with the operator interface task, so that race conditions occurred if the operator changed the setup too quickly. This was missed during testing, since it took some practice before operators were able to work quickly enough for the problem to occur.

      • by RDW ( 41497 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @09:05AM (#28082197)

        The Therac-25 incident also includes a great example of a ridiculous workaround for a serious (fatal!) software bug, the race condition triggered by this fast typing, or using an unexpected sequence of keys. The manufacturer's initial suggested fix was:

        "Effective immediately, and until further notice, the key used for moving the cursor back through the prescription sequence (i.e., cursor "UP" inscribed with an upward pointing arrow) must not be used for editing or any other purpose.

        To avoid accidental use of this key, the key cap must be removed and the switch contacts fixed in the open position with electrical tape or other insulating material. For assistance with the latter you should contact your local AECL service representative."

        Quite rightly, the FDA concluded this was completely inadequate: []

        Start here for the whole sorry story: []

  • PHP's == operator (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:31AM (#28081925)
    Yesterday a friend was frustrated with some ways PHP casts and compares values. Such as PHP would compare hexadecimal numbers in strings, but can cast only decimal, "0" == false, and apparently nan == nan on some compilers, and so on. His solution? A 150-line equals() method which uses the casting rules of Python and the coercion rules of JavaScript. At first he said it's just a joke experiment, but today when I asked him he said he might use it...
  • by scdeimos ( 632778 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:35AM (#28081959)
    Lotus Domino server installations (circa 2000) would complete at about four to five times their "normal" speed if someone just sat there moving the mouse around whilst the install wizard was copying files. Go figure.
  • I'd suggest trying the hates-software website at, but the software crapped out over a year ago and the guy running the site can't be arsed tracking down the no doubt obscure bug in Mariachi and fixing it. Since all of the users are too busy hating software they have to work with to fix software they're not actually responsible for, it's probably never going to get fixed, which is hateful but somehow satisfying, in a kind of Zen way.

  • by gilgongo ( 57446 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:35AM (#28081965) Homepage Journal

    I quite like the workaround that's always given for content management systems that can't strip out the humongous amount of invisible HTML cruft that comes with text that's copied to the clipboard from MS Word or Outlook.

    Content editor: "Hey, why is the formatting of this page completely borked? And why can't I use the CMS's editor to fix the borkage?"

    Me: "Where did you get the original text from?"

    Content editor: "I copied it from a Word doc that somebody sent me. I just pasted that in. It was just plain text..."

    Me: "I see. Well, delete the page and start again. This time, copy the stuff from Word, then open Notepad, past the text from Word into Notepad, then copy/paste into the CMS from there instead."

    Content editor: "Oooh, voodoo!"

    Me: "Indeed."

    • Gah.

      There's one program I have to use that's got some awesomely evil rules for what HTML is allowed in pasted text. It also uses one of those hacks to let you edit HTML in a text box as rich text. Combining these two features means that whenever you edit text on anything but IE, even if you don't need to use the rich text feature, it won't accept the text because it contains a non-allowed tag.

      What's the tag?


    • Paste formatted (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Chris Pimlott ( 16212 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @09:57AM (#28094469)

      Argh, I hate this. Why is it that so many programs make copying the formatting when pasting the default? In my experience, it's almost never what I want. Now, granted, I'm a programmer, so I'm normally much more concerned with the content of the text than its appearance. But even when I am created a formatted document, 9 out of 10 times I want the pasted text to confirm to the formatting I'm already using, rather than creating an ugly mismatched clash of styles.

      I'm not wholesale against copying formatting, but it shouldn't be the default option. Unfortunately, it's often much more difficult (e.g. 3-4 clicks deep through a menu option) or impossible (falling back to the aforementioned copy-through-notepad hack) to paste without styling.

  • by Anita Coney ( 648748 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:37AM (#28081985) Homepage

    I remember when Microsoft put a crappy 32-bit front-end on MS-DOS 7.0 to make it more useful. It completely sucked. It hogged memory and crashed all the time. Luckily you could boot directly into DOS to avoid the GUI and get real work done.

  • by that's-so-kash ( 1561847 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:38AM (#28081995)
    "Did you turn on terminal services?" a recent eve online patch made the program start up to a black screen.. ..till you turn on terminal services? []
  • by sigxcpu ( 456479 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:41AM (#28082021)

    I used to have a network with windows NT 3.51 box and several 95 workstations.

    Several times an hour I would see on the NT box a log error saying "An unexpected error has occurred on virtual circuit X."

    NT 3.51 came with an online ref book you could use to look up things like that. When looking up the error code the page only said something like:

    "If you expected this error ignore it."

  • by Linker3000 ( 626634 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:43AM (#28082045) Journal

    Just thought of another one:

    Many years back I was working as a freelancer developing the training material for a customer service app.

    The agents input customer details, the app identified the nearest call-out contractor, sent the contractor a text message, started the clock ticking and updated the log.

    Unfortunately, the devs used their own GUI and in the top row the 'submit' button was right next to 'form clear' and call centre staff kept clicking the wrong button, erasing the customer details and having to ask for them all again. This did not go down well with customers who'd called due to a domestic emergency (plumbing etc.)

    I suggested that the workflow through the form meant that the agents would be better served by a submit button at the bottom.

    The response to my submission: "Can't see a need to move the button during this development cycle - agents to be told to stop clicking the wrong button."

    • by Jedi Alec ( 258881 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @09:05AM (#28082201)

      Yeeeears ago, I worked in a callcenter where we had a typical homegrown CRM application for logging calls in.

      This app had a function under the F6 key that allowed an agent to grab all his open cases from the server so he could work on them.

      It also had a function under the F5 key that would grab all cases ever created, melting the server...

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        It also had a function under the F5 key that would grab all cases ever created, melting the server...

        Why would you (in the general sense, not you specifically) code that? I mean, there had to be a better way to auto-kill the server.

  • by ILongForDarkness ( 1134931 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:45AM (#28082057)
    seems like an obvious feature it should have shipped with. A product called Offline Review for a medical imaging device for a cancer treatment system. The problem: it shipped before the "offline" part was implemented. Recommended workaround: have the physician available to review the image during the treatment rather than on his own time. Yeah, because physicians can stop having clinical hours so that they can watch each treatment that therapists' do, and oh yeah patients from the same doc have to be secheduled at different times to allow for this. Nice.
  • by Count Fenring ( 669457 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:47AM (#28082071) Homepage Journal

    The program Solaris Skunk Werks (A Battletech mech-maker program) currently has this annoying bug (or triggers an annoying bug in Java) that makes Drag and Drop functionality not only crash, but lock up X11, to the extent that I have to magic-Sysreq out if I forget and accidentally drag something.

    What's worse is, the button for allocating items to slots stays grayed out if there's only one item. So, essentially, I have to either put two of everything on a Mech, or else reboot in Windows just to use a stupid roleplaying accessory.

  • by DikSeaCup ( 767041 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @08:55AM (#28082121) Homepage
    When you used a computer as a time clock (running the client software and using a card swiper, instead of buying the special timeclock hardware), the licensing system on the "server" (which had to be logged in to run, as it wasn't a service but a running process) would lose track of a particular computer's license if more than one computer was running the timeclock client - and issue a new one the next time the client was run.

    So, if you had purchased 15 licenses and were running 2 or more clocks (but less than the 15 you were supposedly allowed), you'd run out of licenses after a couple of days, even with light use.

    After working for a month or so with the company to resolve the issue, what was their long term solution?

    Give us a code that would give us "unlimited" (or somewhere in the area of 32,000 licenses).

    After several years (like 8 or so) and much griping from me to switch to something else, we're still using the software, actually (but with only one swipe station, and only for our student workers in our biggest department), but will supposedly switch to something hosted and web based "soon".
  • by Warlord88 ( 1065794 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @09:03AM (#28082179)
    I guess many would be aware of the case of the 500-mile email. An office was not able to send emails to places which were physically located at a distance greater than 500 miles from the office! Entire story and the logic behind it can be read here - []
  • Old Canon printers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xbasic ( 264551 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @09:03AM (#28082185)

    The worst workaround I got was a while back with old Canon inkjet printers. I think it was with the BJC-250.

    Sometime the printer would got stuck and there was no way to make it print. The led would be orange and even unplugging it would not work.

    We had a whole bunch of these and they were under warranty. When we called tech support. The told us this:

    Please disconnect every wire from the printer. Take the printer over your head and balance it from left to right 4 times. Put back everything ant test.

    And it worked every time we did that ! The printer unstuck and began to print again.

    It was really a hardware bug because we could reproduce it on each of thoses printers !

  • by Shados ( 741919 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @09:04AM (#28082189)

    So, I gave my girlfriend a wacom tablet a few years back, and she notices they have a deal to get an half price upgrade from photoshop element to full photoshop CS4 by using her bundled serial number. That sounds like a good deal, photoshop CS4 for 300$...

    So, go through the registration process, download photoshop from the site, it asks for the serial of the software we're upgrading from. Doesn't work. After going back and forth through support (who keep saying we don't qualify for the upgrade even though we do), they finally give us the "workaround".

    You have to hit a bunch of keys at the same time to make a code pop on the screen, give the code to the support agent, who then give you another code, which you input in the "secret" box, which activates photoshop. And that will have to be done every damn time we reinstall even though we have a legitimate copy we purchased.. Oh yeah, great copy protection you have there, Mr. Adobe.

    Makes me want to pirate the damn thing...

  • Ubisoft DRM fix (Score:5, Interesting)

    by quall ( 1441799 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @09:12AM (#28082247)
    How about Ubisoft and RB6 Vegas? Remember that their fix around a big DRM issue was basically to install a no-cd crack by Reloaded? They just took the crack, renamed it, and then released as an official patch.
  • by kop ( 122772 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @09:20AM (#28082331)

    We labeled 3000 free handout CD roms "Apple Mac only" when we discovered that there was a windows virus on all of them. Clever huh?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 )

      So YOU are responsible for a friend literally tackling me when I tried to insert a Mac CD into my Windows machine because "Mac CDs kill Windows computers"?

      Finally it makes sense!

  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @09:30AM (#28082411) Homepage Journal

    These weren't official ones. I developed them on my own.
    The tape recorder was notoriously difficult to get the data to load right. Some tapes, saved on a different recorder, would require special tricks to get the readout "within specs".

    One, I had to mute audio in the TV set to which the Atari was hooked up. I guess electromagnetic interference from the speaker was a problem.
    On another, I'd have to hold the label with key functions on the recorder. The label was metal and connected to the recorder ground. By holding it, I was providing extra grounding that reduced the noise just enough to get the game to load. Luckily that one took only like 5 minutes to load :)
    The best one was copied from a floppy. The copy was good, but there was no 'loader' program and the game was too big to fit with a copier to copy it to a different tape, and recorded from the beginning of the tape, no room to save the loader. The solution was to take a random different tape with a generic loader, start loading it, then after counting 6 "beeps" QUICKLY remove it and put the right tape in - the timeout tolerance was like 2-3s, so you really had to hurry.

  • by eulernet ( 1132389 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @10:03AM (#28082759)

    Windows 95 and 98 (and probably the first NT/2000 versions) had a famous bug, which was that the computer was unstable after 49.7 days. []

    49.7 days corresponds to 2^32 milliseconds.

    What was recommended was to reboot your computer more frequently, not very bad for uptime records.

    Let's note that I still have similar bugs on my laptop, where IIS tends to be unresponsive when I put the computer in standby mode two or three days consecutively.

  • by notthepainter ( 759494 ) <oblique&alum,mit,edu> on Monday May 25, 2009 @10:20AM (#28082969) Homepage

    Way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, ok not really, but in the late 80s, Sun had a problem with some of their hard drives. When they would park they heads they would stick and you couldn't unpark them. Sun's solution was to tell you to HIT the computer. They even sent us a letter showing you where on the "pizza box" enclosure one would strike.

  • by cobbaut ( 232092 ) <> on Monday May 25, 2009 @10:33AM (#28083179) Homepage Journal

    After upgrading a server, we watched a client verify the server through his daily application. The client entered data and clicked on submit, the next screen appeared instantly. "This is not possible" said the client "it takes about two seconds to submit data to the database"!

    "But the new server is much faster!" we said. It didn't matter, the client refused to believe the data was really submitted.

    We held a meeting about this 'problem'. One developer suggested to add a two second 'do nothing' loop to the submit button.

    So we patched the server and asked the client to verify again. He entered data, clicked 'submit' and was very happy to have his two second delay back! "Now it works..." he said " the data is entering the database!".

    We admitted our fault (knowing very well that all we added was a two second delay).


  • It's not a bug... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nezer ( 92629 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @10:37AM (#28083237) Homepage

    I used to manage Digital UNIX (later called Tru64) systems for a large, now bankrupt, telecom back around the turn of the millennium. The filesystem used, AdvFS, was pretty cool and advanced for the time but under the version of the OS we were running we found that free space would shrink at a faster rate than used space would grow. I had filesystems report full even though a df would show only 60% used.

    It turned out that when small files were deleted all of the space wouldn't become free. My customer wrote thousands upon thousands of 150-200 byte files a day and deleted just as many. The entire team and my customer agreed this was clearly a bug.

    When brought up with Compaq (who had recently aquired Digital) the technical rep investigated and reported "this is not a bug, the code is being executed exactly how it's written." Seriously, this was his response. I would have been more amused if he seriously argued it was a "feature."

    I never could get a definition of what a "bug" really was from him. I became rather infuriated when he reported to me that this issue was "fixed" in the latest major release of the OS. If there was no bug, why was it fixed?

    I never got a straight answer and was left on my own to find my own work-around which involved inserting a new volume into the filesystem thus growing it and then deleting an old volume. When this was done to all volumes in the filesystem, the problem was resolved for a few more months. This was an incredibly labor intensive and, as far as I'm concerned, incredibly risky to move data around like that on a hot system with insane uptime requirements. There was also a massive performance hit while this was happening and my customer's application was already VERY IO intensive.

    I'm still just as angry about that conversation with the rep today as I was back then.

  • by bill_kress ( 99356 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @02:06PM (#28085745)

    I really love my MAC, I've completely switched over after using PCs since early dos days.

    Lately I've been trying to install parallels so I can run a few Windows games.

    Parallels struggles for a while, then says that there are "unmovable files" and that I need to back up my hard disk and re-install OS-X!

    After looking into it, The problem is that the mac drive is fragmented and the mac has no way to defragment some system files (the file in question appears to be the latest OS upgrade which seems to be kept inside it's original file).

    So, I looked around for defragmenting programs, but nearly every reference is either Apple or Apple fanboys telling you that the mac doesn't need defragmenting.

    Well, I guess it's true, the mac does NOT need defragmenting, just the occasional wipe and re-install!

    I'm not really disagreeing with the concepts here--the OS does self-defragment to a degree, the file IS a system file and shouldn't be movable, etc. What I hate is the damn arrogance, every reply to a post on defragmenting was along the lines of "Man are you STUPID, MACs don't need defragmenting! That's so PC" (and yet apple itself recommending a re-install to force a defragment when it is needed).

    Makes me hate this cult I appear to be a member of.

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.