A cute hidden message in a image to entertain you while you wait


In one of the internal Microsoft special-interest group mailing lists, someone pointed out that the Windows 10 Mail app contains a cute hidden message:

Hold on while we fetch your email.

Hint: The people who noticed were members of the Ham Radio special-interest group.

Answer: The pattern of long and short dashes that are used to suggest motion spell out, in Morse code, the letters M-A-I-L.

Samuel Morse was born on this day in 1791.

Bonus chatter: Jensen Harris recently wrote about a secret message hidden in the Windows 8 internal wallpapers.

Here's the entire first half on one page.

In the second half, Jensen reveals the answer.

And here's the solution on one page.

Oh, and at the end of this old post, there's a story where I welcome Jensen to nerd celebrity.

Comments (13)
  1. FS says:

    Who actually is “we”? “Hold on while we…”, “We’re setting things up…” (even worse because of the “things”) etc.

    For example, in screenplay writing, it is considered bad style to formulate directions in what I call the “we-style”. I my opinion, the same is true for on-screen messages shown on electronic devices. And while it is a little understandable why you would use “we” in a screenplay (because “we” kind of refers to the audience), there is no such thing in electronics. To whom does “we” refer to here? Capacitors, resistors, and transistors? Algorithms? That doesn’t make any sense at all.

    So, please, use neutral formulations like “Hold on while your email is fetched” or “Apps are being set up”. Using “we” in such messages makes them only sound silly.

    1. Brian says:

      “We” are the little gremlins behind your screen doing the work for you.
      Getting the classic “Please Wait” message right can improve your product’s satisfaction. A (very) long time ago, we (my team), got reports that users were finding our system slow. We changed “Please Wait” to “Working…” (with a “flashing” attribute – the old green screen’s equivalent to an animated spinning donut) and people found the system much more responsive.
      Similarly, anthropomorphizing the system can help make users feel more comfortable with it.

      1. skSdnW says:

        “Shun jargon and acronyms” This is awful when applied to error messages. I have diagnosed several TV DLNA problems where the error message just says “Error, unable to access/play” etc. And what is the cause of the error, who knows. Can’t connect to the server? Forgot to approve sharing to that device in Windows? Unsupported file format?

      2. Joshua says:

        “Application cannot be started. Please contact your vendor.” We’re the vendor and we don’t know what it means. (And of course you don’t either.) I’d rather have good error message content than good error message grammar.

        1. “Hi, something went wrong. Here’s a ton of total nerdy junk that scream ‘PCs are hard to use. You should have gotten a Mac.'” Presumably, the vendor can use a debugger or look in the event logs.

          1. Joshua says:

            “Hi please open event viewer and read us the real error message.”

            “How do I open event viewer?”

            “Windows-R mmc eventvwr.msc”

            “Program not found: mmc”

            Oops, Windows 10 Lean doesn’t have mmc so the real error error went to the bitbucket.

          2. DWalker07 says:

            “Hi. Something went wrong. Please give the following info to a tech person:”

          3. Ben Voigt says:

            Event logs don’t work so great when it’s the storage system throwing errors. Perhaps you need to know who needs to see this? https://superuser.com/q/511111/29943

    2. Indeed, I too feel alienated by the post-2012 style and tone in Microsoft GUIs.

  2. Neil says:

    In case other people are affected, the browsing protection software I use prevents the aggregator from working, so I had to click through to the original Twitter thread.

  3. smf says:

    What we call morse code was invented by Alfred Vail & (at least in modern parlance) it’s a substitution cipher not a code.

    The original scheme invented by Samuel Morse was a code, but it was impractical.

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