Begin feeling

A few years ago, the gas station near Microsoft's main campus (the one which had been run by my colleague in a previous stage of his career) appeared to have suffered some problems with the LCD unit on one of its pumps. Instead of "Please insert card", it said "@leace incebd cabd". As a geek, I quickly determined that bit 4 got wiped out in the ASCII codes for the characters in the message. Undaunted, I set about going through the usual steps for purchasing gasoline, though it took a little longer than normal because I first had to decode the corrupted strings. And then after I thought I had finished all the necessary preliminaries, the panel said, "Begin Feeling".

Comments (20)
  1. Falcon says:

    The Daily WTF commenters would have had a field day with that one!

  2. JS Bangs says:

    That's some slick inference there. It would have taken me a lot longer to figure out what was causing the strings to be garbled in just that way.

  3. David Crowell says:

    @JS Bangs:

    That just proves Raymond can do "psychic debugging".  

  4. Joshua Ganes says:

    If more electronic devices generated a "Begin Feeling" message, the world would be a better place to live.

  5. CrazyDave says:

    I welcome our new Robot overlords…I now feel…

  6. Tanveer Badar says:

    You didn't do "that" with the panel, did you?

  7. Adam Rosenfield says:

    Oh hey, we finally got back links to individual comments.  Is that a New Year's gift from the blog overlords, or have I just been unobservant lately?

  8. Aryeh Gregor says:

    For those who were initially confused: Raymond is counting bits from the most significant side, not the least significant.  It's & ~0x10, not & ~0x08 as I initially assumed he meant.

    For those who didn't immediately get what turned into "Begin Feeling": 'e' is 0x65, while 'u' is 0x75.  Presumably it was "Begin Fueling".

    For Raymond: kudos, I'd have never figured that out.

    Now, what kind of bug would cause the fourth-most-significant bit to be cleared . . . ?  I'm just not creative enough to figure it out.

  9. Phil says:

    @Aryeh Gregor:

    No, Raymond is counting bits from the least significant, but he starts counting from bit 0, as any self-respecting geek would do, not bit 1.

  10. Mark says:

    Aryeh Gregor: a physical one.

  11. Jeff says:

    It's probably a hardware error. Like, a piece of ice in the register.

  12. Chris says:

    A broken ribbon cable between the lcd panel and the main control board seems plausible.  The ribbon cable would bend every time the front panel was opened to add receipt paper, and one of the data lines could eventually sever.

  13. Bramster says:

    Raymond ascii'd the write question.  Sorry 'bout that

  14. Cheong says:

    @Tanveer: You message makes me to have horrible thought that the message somehow refer to the gasoline gun and the car… :O

  15. Ben Cooke says:

    Reminds me of the time I was handed an old PC to see if I could make it useful again.

    When I turned it on, it said "DICK BOOD FAILEBE". On this occasion I recommended disposing of it since it was clearly hardware-sick as well as software-sick.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Dhic incibed me do gbide dhic chobdbogbam do check ioeb gobk.  Id'c fen!

    #include <stdio.h>

    int main()


      int c;

      while ((c=fgetc(stdin)) != EOF)


         putc(c & ~(1<<4), stdout);


      return 0;


  17. Joy Fielding says:

    Pics or it didn't happen

  18. George says:

    He's a real geek, all right. Anybody else would have moved to a different pump.

  19. MatusHorvath says:

    @George: Maybe he hoped the sum paid will also have bit 4 cleared :)

  20. Tanveer Badar says:


    Was that German? :D


    Further exploits of my imaginative mind will make Raymond delete them.

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