Software

A gallery of goofy error messages

You're so not worthy.

"An Oracle Forms app of mine spits out this error message  when unauthorized users attempt to delete something they aren't allowed to."

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

73 comments
cbgeorge
cbgeorge

Well these error messages appear at Techrepublic on an all too frequent basis and the only benefit is the humour from the comments of people who've never see it before and so proceed to tell us their fine stories.

As for the webpage formatting comments I have to agree, the reason being I cannot even get any of the links to work. I don't know much but I'm looking at this on Firefox and nothing happens if I click on any link, picture, text ...nada. Except for the login link which takes me back to the top of the page! 

So I thought I'd look at it on Chrome and everything works, and hence I can now comment. I dunno, I thought these days a web page should just work, regardless of browser, skill level of operator, computer device being used etc.. 

Stargzer
Stargzer

Back in the Windows for Workgroups days, I used Wallpaper that was a reproduction of the Agima Guru Meditation Error, complete with a memory location ending in 0ICU912.  There were also two error boxes in Amiga Orange and White with the messages "Error:  Intel Processor Detected.  Abort / Retry"  and "Error:  WinDoze Detected.  Abort. Retry."  (Amigas ran on the Motorola 68000 series, not the Intel series and ran on AmigaDOS)  I was an early user of WFW, and when we moved to a new building the Agency was instlling it on the rest of the PCs.  When the hired drones who where following a written script tried to bring up my machine to install WFW, they kept trying to click the Abort box and getting the File Manager, which is what you got when you double-clicked on an empty part of the screen in WFW.  They called the lead guy, who looked at the name on the cube and said they'd work on it later.  As I was walking out of the building he saw me and asked if there was some special software he had to load on my system.  I said no.  He said, "We keep getting these AmigaDOS errors and I know you have an Amiga at home.?  I said, "Chris, that's my wallpaper."  "SH*T!" he said as he slapped himself in the forehead with an audible smack; "Wallpaper!"  "Just checking you guys out," I said.

Stargzer
Stargzer

A friend's wife worked for a major trucking company on Maryland's Eastern Shore and created a message that said, "I have made a terrible mistake.   Please call Joan on x-1234."  She later retired to raise a family, and one day got a call from the company's IT staff when that error message popped up.  She knew exactly what had happened and told them how to fix it.

On IBM mainframes in the 70s and 80s there were User Errors that could be set with the letter "U" followed by a 3-digit number.  A popular one for particulary dumb user errors was "U812."

StephenMollett
StephenMollett

The most memorable one I've had occurred a decade or so ago when my printer decided to die spectacularly with a power supply failure heralded by a loud bang and much smoke.

Appropriately enough, the Linux kernel messages reported: "lp0 on fire!"

jolisadillard
jolisadillard

My favorite of all time "Quick fix it before someone sees it".  From those wonderful Dr. Pepper programmers.

sgamby_joejr
sgamby_joejr

HR Error when inputting profile and the "Gender" field was left Null: Employee Sex is Invalid.

tailithskywalker
tailithskywalker

I had no problems, using the arrows didn't reload the whole page for me. I am using a Samsung Galaxy Note II. Mobile Internet surfing must finally be improving.

nicki.baxter
nicki.baxter

Error found whilst acceptance testing new software:  Error, cannot delete own userid.  Please contact the Samaritans.

whitewolf60
whitewolf60

Best ever, of my own construction, but have yet to have an opportunity to put into production:

WINDOWS HAS EXPERIENCED SOME WEED AND NEEDS TO CRASH

geekdad1
geekdad1

In the long gone politically incorrect days Data General had a system directory called sys.dr (pronounced sysdir)  If you messed up any files in there the error message you got was

Help somebody raped my sys.dr

EhOne
EhOne

FIDONET, ECHOMAIL, and random taglines:


Computer - A device designed to speed and automate errors

Password: The nonsense word taped to your terminal 

Enter any 11-digit prime number to continue

 System Error: (A)bort (R)etry (C)onsume Chocolate.

 Backup not found: (A)bort (R)etry (P)anic

 Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.

rm -rf \*.* means never having the chance to say you're sorry

.

josmyth
josmyth

My favorite (messing with the operator): Two system bugs detected in main copulation unit - followed by - Numerous system bugs detected leaving main copulation unit.

graham.tebby
graham.tebby

The BBC machine had space limitations, and 'Silly' was used for an input that was so unrecognisable, it didn't know where to start. The space limitations were bad - the original response was 'Silly!', but we claimed the extra byte back.

sboverie
sboverie

This was an acronym produced under certain problems on a Burrough's peripheral that had an "Exact match dictionary". When the peripheral stopped working the tech would enter a special program that would produce a result code that could then be looked up in an exact match dictionary for the problem circuit. If the result code was GLUB that decoded into "Good luck U bastard", meaning that there were several things failing at once.

jquinnjr
jquinnjr

Back in the bad old days, at least 40% of all system errors on MVS mainframes said "Consult your Systems Programmer." This really annoyed me, since I WAS the systems programmer and I often had no idea what was causing the error!

MyopicOne
MyopicOne

My personal fave was getting a CPU panic on a 1-CPU Sun box actively running several databases in Production use - I was mystified for a while before I found out about the microkernel. Nobody had noticed, I found it in a random scan of the syslog. And I agree regarding the formatting...

mmorris
mmorris

"Shut 'er down Clancy She's pumping mud!" after it ran out of paper printing a very large tax return.

TNT
TNT

"Administrator does not have Administrator privileges" "You do not have permission to press this key" "Please wait... This is a Microsoft Window." "Catastrophic failure" "Do you want to report this really bad error?"

ICan2
ICan2

Slow day, Huh?

aureolin
aureolin

My fav error message comes from the MS ODBC driver: "You have been selected as the deadlock victim" Note the direct, personal nature of the message, and then try to explain this to data entry clerks who already feel victimized ....

epearson
epearson

This came up after trying to bring up our new HP-3000 back in the early 90's, with boot drive file corrupted: "Cannot find boot sys. Bad magic." Leftover BCSD code written by stoner grad students in the middle of an all night binge on Twinkies and Jolt Cola.

jgeorge12001
jgeorge12001

"Bad in the FAT." My sister got this years ago, and as she'd been on a reasonably successful diet, she took great umbrage at what seemed to be an unnecessarily personal remark.

Fuzzilla
Fuzzilla

I think that pretty much sums it up. This coulda been cool as text, but as pictures it's daft.

joehef06
joehef06

I agree it is ridiculous to have to click through these mostly unfunny errors. But isn't Tech Republic just trying to have us spend more time on their site and view the advertising? My browser is showing an ad for an LG 3D TV right now. 3D TV, now that is funny.

skipper747
skipper747

On the 747 Flight management system if you type, "Define Buggery" it replies "Invalid Entry". Agree with all the complaints about the line by line presentation too

abdullah.tayyab
abdullah.tayyab

Stupid way of putting over 50 pieces of text as a slideshow...

rduncan
rduncan

the computer has preformed an illegal operation and will go straight to jail- it will not pass go- it will not collect $200. -at least that's what it read when I modified it. Article sucked BTW

Becca Alice
Becca Alice

...today is the day of repetitive complaints and no sense of humor. Yes, I'd like to see this as a one-pager. But personally I needed this today, and am delighted with the error comments too. I'll be giggling over "An Internal Error broke out"/"An Internal Error is on the lam" for a while... ^_^

nemo_8080
nemo_8080

Don't you think that this new kind of webpage formating (flash, xhtml, dhtml, etcaetera) are wasting our time? Simple subjects presented in Star Trek manner when we are in The Bronze Era... Guess that simple line text formating is enough for ancient error messages... write straight, what do you hold in hands?

DvT-Hex
DvT-Hex

...I got tired of "waiting for www.techrepublic.com..." after each click. Slideshows consisting of nothing but text are amateurish web design, at best, at worst...well, let's not go there.

mongocrush
mongocrush

Even the error messages themselves weren't very funny. Try harder next time.

ballzowt
ballzowt

that "This is a total waste of time!" And I have now added to the waste.

vercan
vercan

If you type (in a linux console) "tar -zcf archive.tar.gz", forgetting to specify what to include in the archive, you get the following error: Cowardly refusing to create an empty archive

wrpjq
wrpjq

It is bad enough that you used this format and a page re-load everytime.....the least you could do is have good response time...and you wonder why Techies have bad reputations!

kleanthisx
kleanthisx

text is text. I can't agree more with the gallery and doors metaphor.

bill
bill

Nice subject but shame about the delivery. Reminds me of the best one I saw from one of my coders " THE PROBLEM IS BETWEEN THE KEYBOARD AND THE CHAIR"

MikeMJ
MikeMJ

In early versions of MS-DOS, typing an unrecognized name at the command prompt returned this simple, but not terribly informative, error message. Of course, it could lead to an interesting dialogue if you typed: "What do you call a platoon of one-legged soldiers?"

mikeault
mikeault

I don't see why some of these are funny. My favorite was on the Midas operating system used by Nuclear data in the 80's: "An impossible error condition has occurred"

cbgeorge
cbgeorge

@geekdad1 I can't see in any time how somebody thought that "Help somebody raped my sister (sys.dr)" would be a witty error message. It certainly wouldn't be for someone whose sister had been raped.

gwardell
gwardell

@EhOne Fidonet, them were the days when networking was new and fun.

JCitizen
JCitizen

GLUB became the catch all word for anything F'd UP!

SHalpern
SHalpern

I agree with the others who can't beleive these are all images that require a page refresh from a slow server. Who has time to scroll all 53 of these?

ballzowt
ballzowt

Have everybody view the page through their 300 baud modem.

afedwin
afedwin

Mike, your're killing me....almost laughed out my lungs!!!

Tayvl
Tayvl

@bhammer @geekdad1  It can if you don't take it seriously... But that's not you, is it...  We're talking about a computer program here, not a family member.

cliff
cliff

Oh, the memories. Commodore 64 + 300 baud modem + BBS = 1980's Internet. And OH how it was slooooow.

cbgeorge
cbgeorge

@Tayvl  I can't see in any time how somebody thought that "Help somebody raped my sister (sys.dr)" would be a witty error message. It certainly wouldn't be for someone whose sister had been raped.