Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Out of Cheese Error

Computer programming can be a very rewarding activity - there is nothing quite like the feeling of writing a few lines of code and seeing them work first time. Well, there is actually, it's called 'smugness'. But most of the time the stuff you write will be flawed, and you have to tinker with it a bit to coax it into action. And some of the time you can spend hours or even days on something only to find that you have a comma in the wrong place, or you've uploaded your files to the wrong folder (yes, even rocket scientists do it).

I was taught the rudiments of programming by my buddy Mark. He's a great fan of Pterry Pratchett (moi aussi) and a bit of a nutter.

In some of the early Pratchett books there's a bunch of young wizards who think they are developing some kind of a computer (actually it is developing itself). The computer is called Hex. It is powered by ants, and has a label on it that says 'anthill inside'. There are mice involved also.

When Hex gets stuck, it prints out a message - Out of Cheese Error - +++ Redo From Start +++. The mice need cheese, I guess. The young wizards have no idea who Redo is nor do they know the location of Start.

There was a time when Mark was helping me out with a bit of programming. He used to put these stupid error messages into the software. Things like 'out of cheese', 'redo from cucumber', stuff like that. It kept us amused during the development process, and we knew that a quick search and replace would get rid of the stupidity when the product was ready to roll.

So imagine my mortification a few months after this product was done and dusted, and I had a call from someone who was using it - 'it says it's out of cheese, what do I do?'.