Discussion:
On the subject of unhelpful error messages
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Sylvia Else
2018-05-04 03:09:56 UTC
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https://www.ato.gov.au/taxadvice/

Put in a phone number with spaces, press enter, and hover over the
field, and you get the error message "Non-negative whole number (required)".

Hopefully only those with computer science backgrounds will have tax
queries, because I can't imagine what the man in the street would make
of such an error message.

Sylvia.
Huge
2018-05-04 09:37:25 UTC
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Post by Sylvia Else
https://www.ato.gov.au/taxadvice/
Put in a phone number with spaces, press enter, and hover over the
field, and you get the error message "Non-negative whole number (required)".
Hopefully only those with computer science backgrounds will have tax
queries, because I can't imagine what the man in the street would make
of such an error message.
Before I retired, I was engaged in a major rewrite of $(MEGABANK)'s
standards for application development. I gave up on validation of
telephone numbers, since there's no way to write a global standard,
and no management-friendly way to say "Don't be a dick". It appears
the developer in your example fails the latter test.
--
Today is Prickle-Prickle, the 51st day of Discord in the YOLD 3184
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.
Rich
2018-05-04 13:05:01 UTC
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Post by Huge
Post by Sylvia Else
https://www.ato.gov.au/taxadvice/
Put in a phone number with spaces, press enter, and hover over the
field, and you get the error message "Non-negative whole number (required)".
Hopefully only those with computer science backgrounds will have tax
queries, because I can't imagine what the man in the street would
make of such an error message.
Before I retired, I was engaged in a major rewrite of $(MEGABANK)'s
standards for application development. I gave up on validation of
telephone numbers, since there's no way to write a global standard,
and no management-friendly way to say "Don't be a dick". It appears
the developer in your example fails the latter test.
Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Phone Numbers

https://github.com/googlei18n/libphonenumber/blob/master/FALSEHOODS.md
Huge
2018-05-04 13:14:52 UTC
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Post by Rich
Post by Huge
Post by Sylvia Else
https://www.ato.gov.au/taxadvice/
Put in a phone number with spaces, press enter, and hover over the
field, and you get the error message "Non-negative whole number (required)".
Hopefully only those with computer science backgrounds will have tax
queries, because I can't imagine what the man in the street would
make of such an error message.
Before I retired, I was engaged in a major rewrite of $(MEGABANK)'s
standards for application development. I gave up on validation of
telephone numbers, since there's no way to write a global standard,
and no management-friendly way to say "Don't be a dick". It appears
the developer in your example fails the latter test.
Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Phone Numbers
https://github.com/googlei18n/libphonenumber/blob/master/FALSEHOODS.md
I almost posted that. The "Falsehoods ..." series should be mandatory
reading for all developers.
--
Today is Prickle-Prickle, the 51st day of Discord in the YOLD 3184
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.
Rich
2018-05-04 13:27:13 UTC
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Post by Huge
Post by Rich
Post by Huge
Post by Sylvia Else
https://www.ato.gov.au/taxadvice/
Put in a phone number with spaces, press enter, and hover over the
field, and you get the error message "Non-negative whole number (required)".
Hopefully only those with computer science backgrounds will have tax
queries, because I can't imagine what the man in the street would
make of such an error message.
Before I retired, I was engaged in a major rewrite of $(MEGABANK)'s
standards for application development. I gave up on validation of
telephone numbers, since there's no way to write a global standard,
and no management-friendly way to say "Don't be a dick". It appears
the developer in your example fails the latter test.
Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Phone Numbers
https://github.com/googlei18n/libphonenumber/blob/master/FALSEHOODS.md
I almost posted that. The "Falsehoods ..." series should be mandatory
reading for all developers.
All too true. It would "open their eyes".

But unless it was also mandatory reading for the managers too, we'd
still get manager X demanding that something impossible be done about
the phone number mess (or one of the other falsehoods).
Theo
2018-05-12 16:29:52 UTC
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Post by Rich
Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Phone Numbers
https://github.com/googlei18n/libphonenumber/blob/master/FALSEHOODS.md
In which I discover the phone number 1-800-MICROSOFT also works
as 1-800-MICROSO~1

Theo

Stefan Ram
2018-05-08 14:45:08 UTC
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Post by Sylvia Else
Put in a phone number with spaces, press enter, and hover over the
field, and you get the error message "Non-negative whole number (required)".
Hopefully only those with computer science backgrounds will have tax
queries, because I can't imagine what the man in the street would make
of such an error message.
For those /with/ a computer science background it also does
not make sense since what is required really is a /numeral/
and not a /number/.

The form of a numeral depends on the language to be used,
a language might have numerals with spaces.

The formally correct way to proceed would be to explain the
language to be used and only then require to use it.

A so-called phone "number", however, is not really a number
at all, but a digit sequence that sometimes might also
contain other symbols. Also because of this, it is not
appropriate to ask for a "[n]on-negative whole number".
The Real Bev
2018-05-08 16:07:12 UTC
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The worst I've ever seen: USER DID ERR.
--
Cheers, Bev
Judges are our only protection against a legal system that can
afford lots more prosecution than we can afford defense.
Paul Sture
2018-05-08 17:43:04 UTC
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Post by The Real Bev
The worst I've ever seen: USER DID ERR.
To err is human. For a cockup of gigantic proportions one
needs a computer.

The worst error message I've come across is the Microsoft NET SHARE
command.

Any error at all spits out a generic bit of text and then proceeds to
scroll your command off the top of the screen by issuing the standard
help text for the NET command, not even something specific to the SHARE
variant.

There is no difference in the output between a syntax error or supplying
an invalid value for one of the parameters.
--
Forget "Thinking outside The Box". What we should be doing is thinking
outside the funnel we are being forced into.
The Real Bev
2018-05-08 20:05:06 UTC
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Post by Paul Sture
Post by The Real Bev
The worst I've ever seen: USER DID ERR.
To err is human. For a cockup of gigantic proportions one
needs a computer.
Indeed. That was the ONLY error message. It has sort of a nice
biblical flavor. Judgmental.
Post by Paul Sture
The worst error message I've come across is the Microsoft NET SHARE
command.
Any error at all spits out a generic bit of text and then proceeds to
scroll your command off the top of the screen by issuing the standard
help text for the NET command, not even something specific to the SHARE
variant.
There is no difference in the output between a syntax error or supplying
an invalid value for one of the parameters.
--
Cheers, Bev
"At the core of liberalism is the spoiled child,
miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied,
demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic and useless.
Liberalism is a philosophy of sniveling brats."
PJ O'Rourke
Paul Sture
2018-05-11 06:07:59 UTC
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Post by The Real Bev
Post by Paul Sture
Post by The Real Bev
The worst I've ever seen: USER DID ERR.
To err is human. For a cockup of gigantic proportions one
needs a computer.
Indeed. That was the ONLY error message. It has sort of a nice
biblical flavor. Judgmental.
I wish I could do cartoons. This error message is begging for
a cartoon depicting a large hand delivering a thunderbolt out
of the clouds.
--
Spectacles are unusual things. It is hard to think of another object in
our society which is both a medical device that you don’t want and a
fashion accessory which you do. -- The Guardian 2018-05-10
The Real Bev
2018-05-11 21:30:33 UTC
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Post by Paul Sture
Post by The Real Bev
Post by Paul Sture
Post by The Real Bev
The worst I've ever seen: USER DID ERR.
To err is human. For a cockup of gigantic proportions one
needs a computer.
Indeed. That was the ONLY error message. It has sort of a nice
biblical flavor. Judgmental.
I wish I could do cartoons. This error message is begging for
a cartoon depicting a large hand delivering a thunderbolt out
of the clouds.
The hand would be labeled FORTRAN.
--
Cheers, Bev
"I love deadlines... especially the whooshing sound
they make as they go by." -Douglas Adams
Bob Eager
2018-05-08 18:02:57 UTC
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Post by The Real Bev
The worst I've ever seen: USER DID ERR.
A correct, but (in the context) unhelpful one for me was when I was
learning programming in 1971.

It was a BASIC system, written locally. I had set up to input a number,
and accidentally typed a letter.

Correct, but not very useful bearing in mind the audience on non computer
scientists (or pedants):

ERROR IN NUMERIC DATUM
--
Using UNIX since v6 (1975)...

Use the BIG mirror service in the UK:
http://www.mirrorservice.org
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