Improving Wetware

Because technology is never the issue

Not All Error Messages Are Informative

Posted by Pete McBreen 13 Aug 2010 at 18:17

I ran across a really annoying error message from Adobe Acrobat in a corporate setting this week. It was refusing to print anything and the explanation message it gave was

there were no pages selected to print

Nothing much out there on the net was helpful in fixing this, but eventually I discovered that the print queue I was using had been deleted from the print server. So technically there were no pages selected to print because Acrobat could not find the printer so did not know what it was supposed to be printing on.

It would have been much easier and faster to resolve this issue if the developers had considered this as a possible failure mode and rather than put out the not very descriptive “no pages selected to print” they had reported the fact that Acrobat could not contact the printer because it no longer existed on the target print server.

So if I ever see this again I’m going to confirm that the printer queue still exists before trying anything else. Fix in the end was trivial, add the printer again under its new name and delete the old printer.

SPIEGEL Interview with Craig Venter

Posted by Pete McBreen 06 Aug 2010 at 22:00

Craig Venter has an interesting view of the state of the Genome Project.

I am, for example, a fan of the work that was done a short time ago that led to the decoding of the Neanderthal genome. But we don’t need any more Neanderthals on the planet, right? We already have enough of them.

Some serious thoughts as well:

The real problem is that the understanding of science in our society is so shallow. In the future, if we want to have enough water, enough food and enough energy without totally destroying our planet, then we will have to be dependent on good science.

The same could be said about the effects of computing power. Craig Venter managed to decode the human genome by harnessing the power of computers 10 years ago. We still do not appreciate the potential that computers have to change society, and maybe few realize how much computers have already changed society.