Improving the user experience…

Most bugs that I fix in the DVDMaker UI are fairly benign, but yesterday I fixed one that could have had more severe consequences, as noted in my checkin mail:

Problem Description:


Stanley was in his study that night. He knew that he should be getting some sleep - especially with what he had to do in the morning - but he was playing around on his computer, and came across a program titled "Windows DVD Maker".


His hands trembled as he launched it. A window appeared, and then this message:



DVD burner not found

If you have a DVD burner installed on your computer, make sure that it is connected properly and turned on, and try running Windows DVD Maker again. Learn more about this problem



Stanley peered at the message. He took off and cleaned his tortiseshell Valentino eyeglasses, replaced them, and looked at the message a second time.  The first part of the message made sense. He didn't have a DVD burner. But the second sentence just ended. Was there something else that he needed to know? He sat and pondered the situation...


Sleep came with difficulty that night, and throughout the night he was tormented by the spectre of rogue punctuation.


The next morning, he was met as he came into the office by Nicole, his underhanded and overachieving assistant of the last 3 years. "You look tired. Are you sure you're up to this?"


Stanley nodded, and proceeded to get ready for the procedure. He thought he was okay, but the lack of sleep combined with the mental anguish of the previous night conspired against him, and instead of removing the mole from Mrs Slater's right forearm, he instead removed the one from her right bicep.


Mrs Slater looked down, noticed what Stanley had done, and said, "Yeah, you can do that one, too, as long as your there".




Add the period to the end of the message, okay?

Comments (11)

  1. Drew says:

    I suppose that littering the text with unneeded commas is ok, though? And I think Mrs. Slater really said "you’re".

    Rocks. Glass houses. When will the madness end?

  2. RichB says:

    While you’re at it, remove the comma before ‘and’.

    And I checked Kingsley Amis for correct usage before writing this comment…

  3. Randolpho says:

    What an earth-shattering bug! You’re lucky you caught it before it went to production — folks have lost their jobs over bugs like that 😀

  4. Randolpho says:

    Er…. period intentionally left off that last sentence (and this one), in case anyone was wondering

  5. Nick says:

    If this sort of thing bothers you, then I highly recommend the book <a href="">"Eats, Shoots & Leaves"</a>.

  6. Brycej says:

    While not accompanied with such a great check-in mail, I recently fixed a bug of a similar nature as well.

    Mine was changing from:

      "…this may take few minutes."


      "…this may take a few minutes."

    The amazing part of this bug was that it had passed several years of test iterations!

    FYI: I didn’t check the punctuation or grammer of this message and hope this fact, or my content, doesn’t offend anyone.

  7. Steve-O says:

    I’m not sure I like the tone of the whole "Learn more about this problem" pseudo-sentence.  Are you insisting I learn more about it?  What happens if I don’t learn more about it, am I in trouble?  Will the MS Police come after me?  Why do you think you can order me around?

    "Learn more about this problem" is missing a noun, it’s not even a real sentence.  So if it’s not a sentence, why does it need a period.  I’m aware of the implied "you" in something like "Click here to learn more" but really, has blue coloring and an underline really become grammatically acceptable as a substitute for "Clear here to?"  I think not.

    A simple question mark and "learn more" caption would be better IMO. Or "Click here to learn more" would be even nicer instead of (even with a period) a grammatically incorrect sentence.

  8. John says:

    I promise no more language errors if you promise no more code errors. Deal?

    – your friendly UA writer

  9. Drew says:

    Sorry to pick on you like that, Eric. That was really poor form on my part.

    While everyone including myself surelyagrees that it’s a minor bug at best, when I was still at the world’s biggest software borg I was incredibly embarassed by similar bugs. As an example I offer the bugcheck strings in Vista. Filed a bug about those. I have no doubt that the bug was eventually either ignored or misunderstood. Compared with usability problems with UAC I’m sure that the laughable "English" is a minor problem but I for one still recoiled in horror as I remembered my Strunk and White.  I can’t even imagine the evils that present themselves when strings are localized.

    Microsoft could seriously use more (better?) technical writers.

    – a former tester and would-be tech writer

  10. Maurits says:

    Links traditionally don’t need punctuation.

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