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errors--gone in a blink

Something just happened to one of my boxes in the lab that made me want to mention this little tip:

If you're going to present the user with an error message which explains something meaningful about the nature/source of a malfunction, the error message should remain visible (assuming a sighted user at a visual display) either long enough for them to read it, or should require user interaction to dismiss it.

The basic situation giving rise to this was some sort of registry failure (I think -- it went by too fast) that prevented the machine in question from completing its boot process. An error message appeared very briefly on the screen before it winked out and the next step in the ever-failing boot process occurred.

After quite a few attempts at restarting the box, watching intensely for the error message to appear, I gave up -- it just went by too fast to see anything much more than 'regi...', leading me to assume it might be a registry problem.

Something to keep in mind, folks -- if your software is going to tell the user something bad just happened, please give them enough time to catch the message, if you can. Ideally, also provide some way to preserve the message, though I suppose this may not always be possible with a machine in the midst of its death-throws.


Monday, September 15, 2003

log it.

Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, September 15, 2003

Just Sir -

yes, logging it is better than nothing, and if it proves possible to get into the drive (either on the original box or after moving it to a different box and setting it up as a slave), I may try to see what I can find out from any of the carnage left over.

Monday, September 15, 2003

I had the same problem a while ago. What I did was take out my digital camcorder and film the boot process.
Then I rewound and viewed the movie picture by picture until the error occurred and I could read it at my leasure.
Still, you're right that all this shouldn't be necessary at all.

Eric Hop
Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Just press "break" when it appears. If you  have enough time to read "reg" you have the time to press it.

. . .
Tuesday, September 16, 2003

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