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The most amazing "bug" EVER

The company I work for has thousands of employees in offices nationwide.

A bug report came in early this week that on occasion, when using an application that's been in production for months, the user will be redirected to

Some inquiries revealed this was a fairly well-known issue (outside the IT office).

A flail followed, with one developer not helping by insisting it must be a network/server issue "because it couldn't be the code"

Final result: if a user tried to access a page and didn't have sufficient privileges, they were sent to an asp page that redirected to

Can anyone top *that* for incredible developer stupidity coupled with monumental process failure (i.e. "how did this make it through testing?") ?


Thursday, March 27, 2003

Well, I did find an easter egg once in some production DB front end, that if you went through a very long set of specific actions, you would get an image of the guy who programmed it floating naked across the screen.

As far as I know, no one had ever triggered it though.

I left it in the code. ;-)

Steve Barbour
Thursday, March 27, 2003

I just made an odd one some minutes ago.  There's this function I have that checks type(o).  I cut & pasted it, without changing the parameter o.  Literally, it was a "typo."

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Actually - I didn't program that one - but I did do EXACTLY the same thing when I was up against a nasty deadline a week or two ago! If no auth - goto disney... Mitigating circumstances - in mine the only way to trigger it is if the user purposely tried to access someting they shouldn't, and also - it's not in anything mission critical, or even someting which is ever likely to be used and triggered...

Moral - give programmers enough time to produce good solutions - or they do amazingly silly things...

Andrew Cherry
Thursday, March 27, 2003

Actually, the moral of such stories is: Don't put anything frivolous in code at your job, because it WILL come back to haunt you.  (If it hasn't yet, that's only because it's waiting for the moment of greatest impact.)

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Profane debug messages shouldnt go into production code either, but it does at times. I've put in a few, to vent frustration when fixing bugs. Even if its unlikely that an error condition triggering the message will occur, it have happened.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

When working on a Point-of-sale system for a very large fast-food chain, I had a coworker show me the 'easter egg' he'd put in a few years back.

No matter how many times you pressed the recept button, it wouldn't start printing a second copy until the first copy was printed (to save printing multiple when they got impatient and just kept hitting the button). He'd put in logic so that if the button was pressed 100 times while it was printing a message would appear on the screen that said "What the F*** are you doing?" (or something similar, but with the 'F' word).

It's been almost 10 years, but it wouldn't suprise me if the code is still there...

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Well, there was that day that the CTO's mail box started filling up with messages: "These are not the droids you're looking for."

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Worked for a software co. that was hired to write an app that printed legal documents.  The company that hired us appointed a liason to oversee the project.  Basically, his job consisted of testing the software and being thoroughly irritating.

One day he comes to a co-worker and asks for a script to delete all the data from the tables so he can get together a demo for a prestigious law firm in the area.

A few days later, we get an irate phone call from the guy, letting us know that the script missed a table.

Apparently during his test data consisted had of:
F*ckhead lawyers
All lawyers are dipsh*ts
and so on ....

Oopsie daisy
Friday, March 28, 2003

In the interface hall of shame (which seems to have disappeared) they had a mention of AutoCAD at some error condition popping out an alert box stating the user to be a f*$#ing moron (or something like that). In a production version. If I recall correctly, the programmer who wrote the message was released quite quickly afterwards.

Friday, March 28, 2003

A friend told me of a problem where the parameter of an rm -f command could sometimes be empty.  The result was rm -f / since the app was running as root it would erase the entire system drive.  He had to rebuild the system afterwards until he finally found the bug.

John McQuilling
Friday, March 28, 2003

"Apparently during his test data consisted had of:
F*ckhead lawyers
All lawyers are dipsh*ts
and so on .... "

If I found any programmer in my team using test data of that nature, they would not be given time to pack.

<g> actually, thats not entirely true.  Given all the laws involved today what Id probably do is move them into an empty office and ask them to stay there for 3 months until we had worked through all the warnings etc that are required.
But frankly, any programmer sufficiently stupid to use data of that nature and not realise its potential for causing problems would not last 10 mins in a professional enviornment.

I couldn't help myself....Id fire him *so* quickly
Friday, March 28, 2003

Had some bugs but I always wipe my memory after a project and move the code to the repo.

When I used to work at an ISP I did have one guy call up and tell me he thought he had "squirrels in his box". Whatever that meant I'm still not sure but he was a constant caller and made our top ten lists of people to either avoid or have some fun with, depending on our moods.

Oh and the one that insisted on be called "The Bee Lady" when we talked to her on the phone. Wierd.

Ian Stallings
Friday, March 28, 2003

The case of the 500-mile email story is a good one, nothing to do with me, just like the story.

Don Vince
Friday, March 28, 2003

My colleagues and I once inserted an easter egg into a client's contact management system.

They had an IT employee, a really nice guy. Sadly, he died in a car crash one night after visiting some other employees at their home. The company was pretty broken up about it.

Now the contact management system had a way of dialing the desk phone for you. There was a way to type in an "ad hoc" number (this way it would log the call for you).

If you typed in the company's own phone number and this fellow's old extension, a window would pop up on the screen with his picture, and you would hear his old voice mail message play on the computer.

We did let a few employees in on the easter egg, and we found out later that his friends would trigger it once in a while and drink a toast to his memory.

Reginald Braithwaite-Lee
Friday, March 28, 2003

My favorite bug recently was the guy who called to say our web page had "crashed".

Turned out that he got to a page where he was supposed to select an item by clicking on a link (one for each item in a listing going down the page).  Except he didn't realize the item was "clickable" for some reason (standard link), and so just waited for the website to do something.  After twenty minutes, he emailed to say that his screen was "frozen" and the "application crashed".

As you can imagine, it was quite difficult tracking it down...

Friday, March 28, 2003

"Apparently during his test data consisted had of:
F*ckhead lawyers
All lawyers are dipsh*ts
and so on .... "

Well, actually I've seen this used in other contexts too. Back in college, I used to be a journalist, and I came across this:

"A recent article in Virginia Tech's student newspaper described a prominent administrator as the "Director of Butt Licking" - a title that could cost the paper a small fortune.

A reporter initially interviewed Sharon Yeagle, assistant to the vice president of student affairs, in April 1996 for a story regarding the Virginia Governor's Fellows Program. In the Times' story her name and title appeared correctly; however, in a display quote she was referred to as the "Director of Butt Licking" - a template used by the newspaper to determine space requirements until the correct title is entered.

Although the newspaper apologized publicly after the mistake, the Times did not print a retraction for nearly three months. As a result, Yeagle sued the newspaper for defamation, asking for $850,000. "

Full article here:

(Fortunately, I was told early on in my career that the eye-catching ability of using foul language in debugging doesn't outweigh the risk it'll be left in code.)


Joe Grossberg
Friday, March 28, 2003

I'll have to see what the outcome of that case was (though I sadly think it probably settled). As a defamation case that shouldn't have made it out of the gate - I'd be interested to see if the plaintiff could find a witness who had read the article and honestly believed that was her title or that she licked butts.



Friday, March 28, 2003

When I worked at a low rate, insulting contract a few years ago I put a Beavis & Butthead quote in an unused dialog box resource in a VC++ program. The static text on the dialog read:  "Rod Munch, eh? Heh, heh". A friend working at the place found it three years later.

I was proud, like a piece of my DNA going to the moon... okay, that was a reach.

Friday, March 28, 2003

In the same vein as  "Director of Butt Licking" my college paper printed an article once with a photo of a guy at a computer and the caption said "M*** D****** uses the Internet to stalk 12 year old girls." Don't count on your editor changing something you submitted in jest.

Friday, March 28, 2003

In the CodeWarrior Win32 C/C++ compiler hosted on Windows, since at least our Pro 5.3 release, you can write the line

#pragma gauntlet on

at the top of a C or C++ source file.  This triggers an internal flag that makes the compiler occasionally output sounds like "CodeWarrior needs food badly" during a build.


Ben Combee
Friday, March 28, 2003

Most subtle bug I ever found was:

Application would crash if there was a communication timeout between a <CR> and a <LF>.

How often could that happen? Well, about every third night when the other end of the link was an IBM System/38.

As to putting rude messages into software, we made it a matter of policy.

After giving alpha quality code to an executive as an "internal use only" technology demo we discovered that marketing had shipped it to a client.

Therefore whenever we made an "internal use only" build we set "language = DEMO" which made every menu item, dialog box, or message rude.

Anonymous Coward
Friday, March 28, 2003

I put this one in an About Box Egg along with a picture and a righteous hip tune!

Brad has spent 5 years on the ******* project in the last 2 years and when he is not working, Brad can be found working.

Wasn't taken very well.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

A neat subtle bug --I may have told this here before -- I came across back in about '92 had to do with those 'turbo' buttons PCs used to have to slow them down so they'd run certain legacy software.

I was the office computer 'guru', and a friend of mine asked me to help the folks at his church group with their computers because they'd just spent a fair amount on some new machines (screamin' 25/50 mhz486's), and they were getting strange performance out of them. They thought maybe they needed to send them back or get something fixed, but I was supposed to figure out the problem and tell them.

I sat down at one of the machines and sure enough, observed that the system would sometimes run really slowly, sometimes quickly, without having made any adjustments to the system.

I found they had been hitting the turbo button with their knee when they sat down at the desks and scooted up into working position -- these weren't real 'computer' desks, and they'd just stuck the CPUs on the floor in the leg area.  So with the reduced leg room, their knees just pressed against the turbo button; because it was under the desk and out of site when it happened, they never noticed it.

They thought I was a freakin' genius for finding that. I didn't think so, but it did feel kind of good -- makes me remember never to overlook the possibility that a problem observed may not be in the code, or even the computer, at all!

As to weird data -- one project we delivered about a year ago or so has a bug entered in the bug reporting app to 'scrub the code and remove all inappropriate wording or comments'. The product was going to a very 'protected' audience (i.e. could not be exposed to anything off-color), and the developer had included off-color variable names that appeared in the product's setup files on disk.

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

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