ph33r m4d ski11z

It's just baffling to me that someone would be capable of downloading a source package, running a compiler... and then think that the sensible thing to do when there's a compilation error is to email me a 1280x1024 TIFF screenshot of the text in their maximized terminal window.

I asked the guy, "are you mad?"

He said, "I just thought it would be good if you saw exactly what I am seeing."

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Current Music: Vast -- Blue ♬

34 Responses:

  1. greyhame says:

    Perhaps he imagined that if he simply sent the text of the compiler errors you would disregard it, on the grounds that (it simply being plain ASCII) he could easily have falsified those error messages, whereas with a screenshot it would be clear that he really and truly had experienced them.

    • jwz says:

      Yes, I'm sure that was it exactly.

      • greyhame says:

        Well, it's absurd, of course. But I have rarely found it possible to overestimate the heights of absurdity to which people will, in general, ascend if given half a chance.

    • dingodonkey says:

      Uhm, I'm going to have to lean toward the ignorance factor. It sounds like he really meant well, but doesn't (yet?) know better.

      But... man, TIFF? They need image format public awareness programs.

      • jfpoole says:

        Mac OS X saves screen and window captures as TIFF files (I'm guessing that's the OS the guy was using since xscreensaver doesn't build for Mac OS X out of the box). Plus, if the guy's worked for a Mac software developer, he's probably used to sending screenshots of problems and it didn't occur to him to just send text.

        • jwz says:

          The guy was on Solaris, actually.

        • jtl says:

          As of 10.2, Mac OS X's native screenshot format is...PDF. Yes, PDF. And it's not configurable.

            • jtl says:

              Mind you, I should have said "no longer configurable". In 10.1, you could set it to at lesat JPEG and TIFF.

              The Window Manager (or Finder? I don't really understand that part of the system) actually calls out to /sbin/screencapture, so at least there's an obvious place to shoehorn-in a fix.

          • jfpoole says:

            Oh, right, I'd forgotten about that. It's probably because Quartz uses PDF for its drawing model (much like NeXT used Display PostScript). still produces TIFFs, though, which is what I use since I can never remember the built-in key combos.

  2. neschek says:

    No, it's perfectly reasonable. Perhaps his choice of xterm color or font size was responsible for his compilation error. You really should make sure that any programs you release are compile stress tested against various flavors of xterm. How could you be so careless? I mean really.

  3. mattlazycat says:

    ... in glorious retardovision.

  4. I once asked an admin for the IP address of a mailserver on his network, and he sent me a 1600x1200 24-bit BMP of the relevant Exchange dialog, and, what is worse, he attached it twice.

  5. thesliver says:

    Be grateful then that he didn't image his hard drive onto several DVDs for you to reproduce his system exactly (along with a signed photocopy of his motherboard in case that was relevant).

    Before the days of email and immediate access I can remember receiving photocopies of 3.5" disks, folded up 5.25" floppies (folded so they fit into the envelope), floppies stapled, making sure it punctured the cookie (the first second generation of the term cookie that is, not the third web abortion one), to their letter of complaint and a request for a box of new needles for the disk drive.

    • You have heard of the apocryphal anecdotes? Or do you literally mean people did that stuff?

      • thesliver says:

        Yes people literally did that and I've received all of them. The 'box of new needles' was for the Sirius (Victor 9000 in the US) and it had a variable speed drive which changed in pitch as it moved in and out, there were even attempts to get them to play a tune. This person's drive had started developing read faults and as floppies are quite like records (in that pre CD age), it wasn't that silly a thing to think in isolation.

  6. naturalborn says:

    At least he sent you something with the relevant information in it. I routinely get mail saying nothing but 'my download doesn't work'.

  7. g_na says:

    "I just thought it would be good if you saw exactly what I am seeing."

    "It certainly would. Next time, please rip your eyeballs out of their sockets and sent them over."

  8. cyeh says:

    I could rant all day on the idiocy of all things build related, so I'll keep it brief.

    It never ceases to amaze me how paid, commercial developers can be so stupid about the simplest things. I have received many a message from engineers saying "my build is broken" without attaching so much as an error to work with. When you ask them to give you some of the console output, you either get a single gmake error line, or you 45 pages of crap, or you worse yet, you get a redirected log where they neglected to redirect stderr.

    So don't limit this to the script kiddies. People that should know better do this kind of crap all the time.

    And don't get me started on the Win32/Java programmers who are helpless without an IDE.

  9. m4dh4tt3r says:

    I can't help myself. I have to laugh uncontrollably.

  10. altamira16 says:

    I had problems trying to install that XScreensaver thing. I will come do an interpretive dance of the situation so that you may better understand my problem.

  11. stega says:

    I had to chime in as two weeks ago a "network engineer" sent me a screen capture of his traceroute results. I thought I was the only to experience such it's nice to know it seems to hit everyone. Solidarity in exasperation I guess.

  12. bitbucket says:

    I downloaded this tgz file, how do I run it in windows? Can I send you my monitor and hard drive so you can help fix it?

  13. babysimon says:

    I once asked someone (who was supposedly a sysadmin... OK, a Windows sysadmin) to "View Source" and email me the results. I got back an Excel spreadsheet containing a screenshot of a Notepad window showing the first 10% of the HTML I'd asked for.

    I've also received truncated, blurred, illegible Java stack traces, printed out and faxed.

  14. klarfax says:

    did he have some reason to think you wouldn't believe him if he just put the text in?

  15. devpreed says:

    Ok... so where can we get a copy of this now-infamous screenshot?

    Come on Jamie... you know you want to...

  16. vxo says:

    Here's one I have to deal with from various members of my family all the time...

    I'm sitting at home, or elsewhere, and get a phone call.

    "Hi, my computer has an error. It says, "Windows - A fatal exception 0E has occured at..."
    "I see. Have you tried rebooting it?"
    "0xDEADBEEF in module FNORD..."
    "Yes... does this happen often?"
    "The current application will be termina..."
    "*insert shitload of hex garbage here*"
    "That's not important. Just reboot..."
    "Yes, but I just wanted to make sure nothing was going to break if I rebooted..."
    "Just... reboot."
    "But, I was just reading my e-mail and..."
    "Does this happen often?"
    "Well, no..."
    "Then everything should be fine. Just reboot."
    "Are you sure? You know what, you should [drop everything you're doing, as I don't give a damn about YOUR activities or sleep], come over here now and look at it..."
    *sound of me banging head on wall*