Reason number 9,999,999 why you don’t ever use humorous elements in a shipping product

I just saw an email go by on one of our self hosting aliases:

Sent: Saturday, April 30, 2011 12:27 PM
Subject: Spelling Mistake for browser in event viewer

Not sure which team to assign this to – please pick up this bug – ‘bowser’ for ‘browser’

And he included a nice screen shot of the event viewer pointing to an event generated by bowser.sys.

The good news is that for once I didn’t have to answer the quesion.  Instead my co-workers answered for me:

FYI: People have been filing bugs for this for years. Larry Osterman wrote a blog post about it. J


From: <Redacted>
Sent: Saturday, April 30, 2011 1:54 PM
To: <Redacted>

Subject: RE: Spelling Mistake for browser in event viewer

The name of the service is (intentionally) bowser and has been so for many releases.

My response:

“many releases”.  That cracks me up.  If I had known that I would literally spend the next 20 years paying for that one joke, I would have reconsidered it.

And yes, bowser.sys has been in the product for 20 years now.


So take this as an object lesson.  Avoid humorous names in your code or you’ll be answering questions about them for the next two decades and beyond.  If I had named the driver “brwsrhlp.sys” (at that point setup limited us to 8.3 file names) instead of “bowser.sys” it would never have raised any questions.  But I chose to go with a slightly cute name and…


PS: After posting this, several people have pointed out that the resources on bowser.sys indicate that it's name should be "browser.sys".  And they're right.  To my knowledge, nobody has noticed that in the past 20 years...

Comments (4)
  1. s/object/abject/

  2. I take that back… apparently both are used

  3. Anonymous says:

    I've never had an "abject lesson", except maybe one or two times in high school. I guess this story could qualify as one, though.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Add one more question to the 20 year count: what's the joke?

    A vague reference to dogs in your original post doesn't explain why you named the service after fuel pumps.

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