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Ridiculous Software Bug Workarounds?

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the holding-your-mouth-right dept.

Bug 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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Run Windoze much?? (5, Insightful)

VorlonFog (948943) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081807)

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

Re:Run Linux much? (5, Informative)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081927)

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!"

Don't plug in your scanner! (3, Funny)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081981)

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

Re:Run Windoze much?? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28082059)

You're a jew.

Re:Run Windoze much?? (1)

reset_button (903303) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082081)


"Get A Mac" (-1, Flamebait)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081809)

The old "Get A Mac" because Windows is broken argument. Although, to be fair, it's the same as with "Use Linux." Except that using a linux distro is probably much more awesome than using a Mac.

Why do both (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28081813)

... involve microsoft office?

rigoddamndiculous ? (4, Insightful)

Nyall (646782) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081817)

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

Re:rigoddamndiculous ? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28081855)

John Wayne made it up:

Re:rigoddamndiculous ? (1, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081869)

Only 'cos Chuck Norris told him to.

Re:rigoddamndiculous ? (1)

Nyall (646782) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081979)

I was expressing a generic sentiment.

But on the specifics of 'rigoddamndiculous' it is an impromptu word. It is self documenting and shouldn't have a definition for the same reason we don't write up definitions for every word with 'fuck' inserted. fan-fucking-tastic for example.

Re:rigoddamndiculous ? (5, Funny)

dna_(c)(tm)(r) (618003) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082129)

[...] self documenting and shouldn't have a definition [...] fan-fucking-tastic for example.

I understand what 'fan-fucking' means and 'tastic' is probably related to 'elastic' in some way, but the sexual perversities they invent these days...

Re:rigoddamndiculous ? (1)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082131)

Well, that doesn't make it any less refuckingtarded

Re:rigoddamndiculous ? (5, Funny)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081921)

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:rigoddamndiculous ? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28082221)

Stop trying to embiggen your ego.

RE (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28081821)

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

Profiling? (5, Informative)

tal_mud (303383) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081825)

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

Re:Profiling? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28081971)

Very kind of him. You should either be sent back to college or to a mental asylum for profiling with the optimization flags enabled.

Profiling /= Debugging (5, Insightful)

krischik (781389) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082035)

Profiling has to be done with same flags enabled as for the production code. Otherwise the result will be meaningless.

Re:Profiling /= Debugging (4, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082079)

"Then don't optimize your production code."

Ticket closed.

Ok, (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28081827)

Whomever invented that term (rigoddamndiculous) deserves to be ruthlessly beaten in public. Sure it sounds inhumane, but we do need to set an example.

Re:Ok, (1)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081899)

good luck beating john "the duke" wayne in public...

Re:Ok, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28081945)

Actually it should be pretty easy once you dig him up. Where is he buried again?

Re:Ok, (5, Funny)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081983)

John Wayne's not dead - he's frozen! And when we find a cure for cancer, we're gonna thaw out the Duke and he's gonna be pretty pissed off. You know why? You ever taken a cold shower? Well, multiply that by 15 million times. That's how pissed off the Duke's gonna be.

Re:Ok, (1)

TheVidiot (549995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082063)

Hehe... never a more opportune time to use that! If I had some points...

Re:Ok, (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081915)

John Wayne [] . You quite sure you wanna do that?

Re:Ok, (4, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081973)

I agree with you we should kill them. Language, the English language anyway, is so widely used that correctness is usually defined as an use such that audience is not distracted from the intended message. That means there is lots of flexibility to get creative with spelling in certain situations. It may on occasion be acceptable or even appropriate to make up new words or use existing words in very unconventional fashion with alternate meanings implied. These things are all ok to do provided that you know your audience will pickup on it without extra effort on their part.

Due to all of the above its a simple fact there is going to be some symbol creep, from time to time new words will be created. Its also true others will fall into disuse although more gradually due to their appearance in print. I am no language snob that is insisting we should all run around talking and writing the way Jane Austin did 160 years ago or even Fitzgerald did eighty years ago. Its ok to make up some words with your pals because they share enough experience with you they will know them.

Here the poster has made a terrible choice and he proves he knows it by virtue of him having referenced it. I should not need a dictionary to read your mostly informal Slashdot post. That is not to say I never will but if I do it should have been something I would have reasonably been expected to know, and therefore could find in my own dictionary rather they Urban. Beyond that the word does not flow well at all. Its hard to speak and hard to read. It adds nothing in particular to the more accepted expression "that's God damn ridiculous" and offers us a savings of only a few syllables. If it actually better conveyed the authors emotional response, or helped to clarify which specific definition he or she wanted us to use it might have value. It does non of these things, its utter rubbish and should never be repeated.

This is how the language is destroyed rather than evolved.

Re:Ok, (2, Insightful)

Count Fenring (669457) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082177)

Melodramatic much?

Honestly, expletives tend to be low-meaning and high-nonsense sections of language, and meaning there was perfectly clear, and would have been if he hadn't referenced it. Mildly annoying is the worst this is.

Now, that's not to say that the youngsters AREN'T destroying the English language. Heck, as a teacher, I SAW it. But "ri-goddamn-diculous" isn't a big deal.

Ridiculous workarounds? (-1, Troll)

MULTICS_$MAN (692936) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081831)

Use Microsoft Windows instead of an operating system. Although it had been supposed to be an operating system in a previous life.

Don't have the details (5, Interesting)

VShael (62735) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081845)

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.

Re:Don't have the details (5, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081885)

Audio CDs have a secret history of screwing up things, and I'm not just talking about Sony audio CDs.

Re:Don't have the details (5, Informative)

/ASCII (86998) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081889)

Depending on what else they did, that might be a good response. A proper IT service desk should do two things in a situation like this:

1. It should find a quick workaround for the incident at hand, which is to recomend all customers to not put an audio CD in the drive of a server running notes.

2. The should perform root cause analysis to determine the underlying problem and remove it permanently.

If the Service desk isn't doing both these things, it's not doing its job properly.

Re:Don't have the details (4, Insightful)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081923)

In practice, step 2. involves sending the request off to the developers where it never gets actioned, ever.

Re:Don't have the details (5, Insightful)

dBLiSS (513375) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082165)

Because you can't sell bug fixes, only new features!!!

Re:Don't have the details (2, Informative)

codegen (103601) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082065)

I went back and read the parent post, and I don't see anything about a server. In fact since it talked about performing a task in Notes and a ghosted image I assumed it was talking about the notes client. Also they may already have had the work around, but telling the bosses secretary that she can't have an audio CD in the drive (it didn't have to be playing) may be a bit counter productive.

Re:Don't have the details (1)

volpe (58112) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082017)

And we eventually got a note back saying "Don't put CD's in the CD-Rom drives."


Re:Don't have the details (1)

DoninIN (115418) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082153)

Just like moving the mouse no Disk in the drive was a standard troubleshooting step for me back in these days. I used to have theories, but I don't remember them. But it seemed to be a common cause of machines failing to boot or crashing during installs. Don't forget the fun of a failed windows 9X install, where halfway through it just decides it's not going to work and the only thing that seems to work is to try again.

Stupid MS Office 2007 bug (5, Interesting)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081861)

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:Stupid MS Office 2007 bug (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28081909)

My cat is super awesome, you should see him playing with this yarn lol. Article Summary? What the fuck is that? I'm trying to post about my cat here, folks.

Re:Stupid MS Office 2007 bug (2, Interesting)

anss123 (985305) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081947)

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.

Re:Stupid MS Office 2007 bug (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28082003)

Yup - your printer crashes, nobody else's does, so it's a bug in Office.

Do try and use your brain.

Re:Stupid MS Office 2007 bug (2, Funny)

DarkIye (875062) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082109)

Yeah, he should have considered the alternative possible cause: the printer responded with evil electrical signals when it was told it was going to be used as the default printer (printers don't like being told that), which caused Word to crash.

Re:Stupid MS Office 2007 bug (4, Interesting)

orangesquid (79734) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082137)

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 the MFC? CString had several functions that sometimes worked and sometimes didn't, and leaked memory like crazy. Official workarounds? Avoid initializing CStringss a local variables, and don't use about 1/3 of the class methods. If you needed those methods, derive a new CString-like class from base classes (of course, this meant writing a lot of the basic string-manipulations function and ddealing with a broken inheritance model in that version of VisStudio), or don't use CString at all (which of course meant there were large portions of the MFC you couldn't use, and since that version of VisStudio (6?) was designed to migrate people to MFC from previous widget sets and direct DLL and Win32 API calls, there were lots of things in VisStudio that were effectively unusable). Template support had issues, so you couldn't use SGI's nice std template library. And, did I mention the dynamic linker had some major issues, some project-build rules would only work right in Debug but not Release (and others, vice versa)?

Re:Stupid MS Office 2007 bug (1)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082225)

You connect to a network running on DOS??????? Boy, I'd say you have bigger problems than that!

wiggle their mouse continuously (3, Interesting)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081865)

IIRC, a few GNU encryption programs do the same thing while collecting entropy, and yell at you if you don't wiggle enough.

Re:wiggle their mouse continuously (2, Funny)

laejoh (648921) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081873)

I'm a debian user, you insensitive clod. Do you really have to remind me???

Re:wiggle their mouse continuously (4, Informative)

tpgp (48001) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081883)

IIRC, a few GNU encryption programs do the same thing while collecting entropy, and yell at you if you don't wiggle enough.

Feature. Not a bug.

Do you have any idea how hard random data is to collect?

Re:wiggle their mouse continuously (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081939)

Feature. Not a bug.

I know, I was trying to say that maybe the MS/Oracle thing was a similar case, but they just assumed they'd get enough randomness without telling people (maybe their devs and testers were always fidgety from the mountain dews).

Re:wiggle their mouse continuously (2, Interesting)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081949)

If it interferes with normal use, it's a bug. Most users simply _do not care_ about having high quality randomness sources for their keys.

The lack of good quality randomness _is_ a longstanding problem. Frankly, I wish tha tthe "Trusted Computing Platform" circuitry and development had been thrown out much sooner, and the circuitry instead invested in a thermal diode to provide truly random encryption keys.

Re:wiggle their mouse continuously (3, Informative)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082103)

Quite easy, actually. Creating it with a standard computer is the hard part.

My solution is most of the time pinging some computers around the globe and using the times as salt. They are fairly random, actually.

Re:wiggle their mouse continuously (2, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081897)

Obviously we need an entropy generation program that feeds it the input from simulated mouse waggling. We can use /dev/urandom as the input! Of course, we have to take care to make it more randomer [] .

Re:wiggle their mouse continuously (3, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081969)

Obviously we need an entropy generation program that feeds it the input from simulated mouse waggling. We can use /dev/urandom as the input! Of course, we have to take care to make it more randomer [] .

Don't do that. The extra entropy will feed right back into /dev/urandom before you know it you will have this perpetual entropy generator massively increasing entropy in the universe then it will all be over.

Re:wiggle their mouse continuously (1)

LinuxOverWindows (1549895) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081935)

actually if you just dont wiggle the mouse it will still collect all the encrytion data you need and the fact that the program has you move the mouse is complete different.

What moving the mouse does in the encryption program is generate random hashing keys and using a mouse is a really good method because it's almost impossible for a human to move the mouse exactly between between point y1 and y2.

Re:wiggle their mouse continuously (5, Informative)

KreAture (105311) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081975)

I think this actually had a good reason.
A nice old PS2 mouse generates interrupts when wiggled. This breaks up the boring routines. (Blocking routines actually.) And presto, a little more progress on transfering your data...

This phenomenon is not gone btw.
1. Start notepad in a window, not full screen.
2. Open long text file
3. Mark your text from beginning of document and try to scroll down. When mouse exits window, keep holding but with mouse stationary. Nothing happens?
4. Wiggle mouse outside window and presto it continoues to mark text towards the bottom of your document!!!

Fun and entertainment for the whole family!

Re:wiggle their mouse continuously (1)

DarkIye (875062) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082133)


I don't think that word means what you think it does.

Re:wiggle their mouse continuously (1)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082151)

I honestly thought that was a feature to prevent the text from scrolling directly to the bottom of the page.

Re:wiggle their mouse continuously (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28081987)

Suddenly I now understand why random data made it into my Excel spreadsheet when I imported from Oracle.

Google Docs (4, Interesting)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081871)

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!

ornery? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28081887)

1932 called, They want their word back, it's like the depression, you know.

Re:ornery? (2, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081933)

If they want the depression back, they can have it.

Re:ornery? (1)

Sj0 (472011) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082195)

Jeepers, this complaining is for the birds! 23 skedadle, Jack.

HP Printers and Windows are a No Go (2, Interesting)

LinuxOverWindows (1549895) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081893)

I just spent 2 hours on the weekend getting my Mom's HP Printer to work on Windows Vista. I didn't even try Office yet and I'm guessing the headache will not stop.

Well I agree HP makes nice printers, I just don't see how they make them so hard to install on the Windows platform. Usally you have use there automatic Printer driver installer which takes 2 hours to run, it tries to find the printer N times every time failing and then the 1 time it finds the printer is connected the install freezes.

Well I haven't had any experiance with the bug, I would have to say that maybe HP should be going back to the drawing board with these printers and drivers because there causing enough trouble as it is.


Re:HP Printers and Windows are a No Go (5, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082029)

speaking of HP printers, especially the networked ones, why is it that the network driver is 350 megs in size? I had to download two of those damn things, even after using a custom install option, to remove as much of the cruft as possible I still installed some 700 megs of drivers for two printers, and a scanner.

Guess what happens when the drivers get corrupted. you have to manually uninstall the registry settings and deleted all files manually in order to reinstall the drivers or they won't work.

HP decent printers, Software coded by monkey banging on keyboards.

Re:HP Printers and Windows are a No Go (1)

LinuxOverWindows (1549895) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082087)

I know what you mean, I've downloaded so many HP drivers that I just don't care anymore. And how many times does the printer cable have to be unpluged and pluged in during the install for it to not pick up your printer

Re:HP Printers and Windows are a No Go (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082229)

The first is a problem with windows uninstallers in general, not all of them but quite a few... If you delete or corrupt the uninstall program, or in some cases parts of whatever was installed, then the installer will often refuse to run... Sometimes you can reinstall the app first, and then perform an uninstall, but that wont always work (sometimes it tries to run the uninstaller first, sometimes it doesnt associate the existing files as belonging to it and thus doesnt remove them, sometimes it says its already installed and refuses to install again until you've removed the previous copy - which you cant do!)...

I find the HP drivers for mac just as bad... But at least for printers, OSX will include the drivers already and you don't need all the crappy little utility programs you get with the official driver.

The linux ones are open source and come with your distro's package management so they actually work quite well.

Re:HP Printers and Windows are a No Go (1)

ruckc (111190) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082037)

Well its not as if Microsoft doesn't make writing drivers complicated or anything. How many times has the drivers had to be rewritten to support "Supported" configurations per Microsoft.

Re:HP Printers and Windows are a No Go (2, Informative)

anss123 (985305) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082075)

Well I agree HP makes nice printers, I just don't see how they make them so hard to install on the Windows platform. Usally you have use there automatic Printer driver installer which takes 2 hours to run, it tries to find the printer N times every time failing and then the 1 time it finds the printer is connected the install freezes.

I helped a guy with an HP printer and it seems they install crap to check the ink status and give you "helpful" messages about it. I recommend installing the drivers through the add printer interface, that way you avoid the extra bloatware.

Veterinary Clinic App (5, Funny)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081907)

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.


Re:Veterinary Clinic App (4, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082011)

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...

Re:Veterinary Clinic App (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082051)

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

That's actually funny, not ridiculous!

Re:Veterinary Clinic App (4, Interesting)

Aero (98829) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Veterinary Clinic App (4, Interesting)

RDW (41497) | more than 5 years ago | (#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: []

Re:Veterinary Clinic App (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082067)

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

ZOMFG! Please find some code and put it on The Daily WTF.

Unless the coders are doing it horribly wrong, the observable effect of defragging the disk should only be to speed up disk access. Okay, so things can't be too slow.

Stopping the users from typing too fast---unless you're doing it horribly wrong, this can only be a performance issue.

So things can't be too fast, and can't be too slow, it has to be Just Right? ...

An explanation is that the developers are morons^W incompet^W morons.

Re:Veterinary Clinic App (1)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082145)

Oh yes, the coders are doing it horribly wrong. I suspect they have some race/timing/timeout issues with their code, but I doubt they are skilled enough to resolve the matter.

I have made numerous suggestions about the issues and also suggested how their appalling database schema could be vastly improved, but the devs (and the Company MD) just cannot acknowledge that an outsider may have useful input for them.

I could rant all day about the app - but just one example: the software *sometimes* does not calculate pet ages correctly from their DOB - the devs state that 'date calculations are incredibly complex'!

Re:Veterinary Clinic App (1)

sam0737 (648914) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082183)

b) Stop the users typing so fast.

You should use QWERTY, not Dvorak.

PHP's == operator (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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...

Re:PHP's == operator (3, Informative)

pankkake (877909) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082005)

Ever heard of "==="?

Diablo II (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28081955)

When I used to play Diablo II, I was having continuously video issues which dumped me down to the desktop. When I looked for support in the official site, there was a solution everywhere: defrag your full disk, update your OS to the latest patches, run an antivirus...

Gosh, all that for broken driver issues. And I tried multiple video driver versions. Nah. Defrag the disk, dude.

Dumped both D-II & Blizzard. The game was original; I gave it to another guy. Never knew anything from him.

Mouse wiggling not that unusual, surprisingly (5, Interesting)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

It's almost Zen. (4, Funny)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081963)

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.

Two-stage Pasting (4, Funny)

gilgongo (57446) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081965)

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."

"I'm not making this up, you know." (3, Interesting)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082053)


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?


Re:Two-stage Pasting (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082167)

Notepad to the rescue...

Here's another nice one. When copying an excel document from a sharepoint site mounted as a network drive to a word document (as an icon), I first copy the file to an e-mail, and them from the mail to the word doc.

Re:Two-stage Pasting (1)

QuestorTapes (663783) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082193)

grin ;>

Yeah; right now at work, I often need to put SQL queries copied from the query window in SQL Server into an Outlook mail message; but Outlook doesn't support "Paste As..." so I get horrendously formatted RTF.

I keep a cygwin bash terminal open anyway, so I type:

    getclip | putclip

and then paste into Outlook.

Stupid Windows tricks; gotta love 'em!

MS-DOS 7.0 workaround (4, Funny)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 5 years ago | (#28081985)

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.

Re:MS-DOS 7.0 workaround (3, Funny)

Psyborgue (699890) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082027)

Yeah, but they later removed the workaround without removing the root cause of the problem (Win ME). Of course they called it an "upgrade".

Re:MS-DOS 7.0 workaround (1)

Count Fenring (669457) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082101)

Speaking of Windows Me, I once ran it on seriously under-spec hardware. Since it would show the desktop previous to being able to actually run anything, it APPEARED to boot much faster than 98SE had.

Appeared being the key word, since, if I touched anything for the first three minutes it was at the desktop, it would invariably crash. After that, it would crash variably (god, what a piece of crap OS), but during the first three minutes, it was literally "click anywhere on screen to crash to bluescreen."

The workaround, of course, was change my workflow from "Turn on computer->User computer" to "Turn on computer->Make coffee->Use computer." And then upgrade immediately to the Win2k pre-release.

Continually moving mouse to keep network alive (1)

ketilwaa (1095727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082019)

Back in my Fedora Core 2 or 3 days, I had a Dell Inspiron 9300 (?) with some kind of bug that required me to wiggle my mouse, otherwise the network connection would stop completely. Solution: Install Ubuntu. Haven't looked back much since.

On the fun side, it made me feel like I could physically speed up or slow down my network, but that was only fun for 2 minutes.

Not excactly a workaround (5, Funny)

sigxcpu (456479) | more than 5 years ago | (#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."

Customer Service App (4, Funny)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082045)

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."

Re:Customer Service App (4, Funny)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 5 years ago | (#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...

not really a bug but (4, Funny)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

I'm currently doing this. (2, Interesting)

Count Fenring (669457) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082071)

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.

Nero (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28082073)

One particular version of Nero 6.6, which also was the latest version of that major release for a long time before a final update, had a serious but silly bug in the Audio CD creation dialog. When you tried to shift change the order of tracks via drag & drop, it only switched the position of the selected track and the track before or after that back and forth. So you either had to insert the tracks in the desired order from the start or you had to switch the position between two tracks, then between the next two and so on. Hilarious!

U3 "smart" flash drives (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082115)

Software problem: The autorun feature in Windows only works for CD drives.

Hardware solution: Make a flash drive with an extra partition that presents itself as a CD drive to the OS.

Qqest GoldSuite Timeclock Software ... (4, Interesting)

DikSeaCup (767041) | more than 5 years ago | (#28082121)

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".

The case of the 500-mile email (5, Interesting)

Warlord88 (1065794) | more than 5 years ago | (#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 (3, Interesting)

xbasic (264551) | more than 5 years ago | (#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 !

The absolute worse: Adobe Photoshop (3, Funny)

Shados (741919) | more than 5 years ago | (#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...

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