My Favorite Windows Error Messages

Programs running on real operating systems print out error messages as plain text, which can be copied, pasted, archived, searched, etc. GUI-based applications throw up alert boxes instead -- and the programmers who wrote MacOS and Windows never thought that people would need to copy text from an error message into any other application. So when one of my Windows applications goes belly-up and I need help from tech support, I fire up Paint Shop Pro, take a screen shot of the window with the error message, and attach the clipping to my plea. Some of these messages say more about the programmers who wrote them than the users who invoked them....

Windows NT security error

Oh, yes, I see exactly what I did wrong.

Microsoft Data Access 2.1 Setup

Quick! Where's "the large button"?

WinZip setup

If SUPPORT.WRI is such an important document, why doesn't the installation program "copy to a safe location"?

Opening Mail Attachment -- message.txt

I suppose there's a first time for everything -- Microsoft is trying too hard to protect users against viruses. Fnord.

Visio warning

This came up in my attempt to learn how to use Visio, which deserves a rant unto itself.

For more exemplars of bad software design, of course, you must visit the Interface Hall of Shame. Also, some old-timers have contributed to a canonical list of error messages from UNIX, TEX, PL/I, and other classics.

Seth Gordon -- -- June 2000 -- comments?