The Quantum Pontiff

Graceful Error Handling?

Running a process to fix the utf-8 support on using the unix “screen” command I got the following crash:

Suddenly the Dungeon collapses!! - You die...



  1. #1 Aaron
    June 19, 2008

    For some reason, the screen developers added an alternate “nethack” themed message set, and you appear to have it turned on.

    You can turn it off with “nethack off” in you .screenrc. Not that the real error message is any more useful for this situation…

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    June 19, 2008

    Here is, in at least one bit of source code for ‘screen’, the file that contains at least some of the error messages:

    Other possibilities include:

    You escaped the dungeon

    An alarm sounds through the dungeon…\nThe Keystone Kops are after you!”


    “You regain consciousness.”

  3. #3 NoAstronomer
    June 19, 2008

    I have coded several pieces of software where the catch-all, wtf happened? message was :

    I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.

    (Which I know is a misquote.)

  4. #4 Jeff Darcy
    June 19, 2008

    OK, now you’ve done it. I’ll just have to share a couple of my error-message stories, both from several jobs ago. One customer asked about “about to chunk the butt” which was appearing in his disk-array logs. When asked, the guy who’d written that piece of software said he had no idea why he’d put that in, because he was stoned at the time. He was CTO of my last company, by the way.

    The other was my fault. This was cluster software, and in the case of a partition – or, more precisely, discovering that the cluster *had* been partitioned – it was necessary to “kill” members of one group so they could join the other as individuals. The message we used to do this was DGSP – Die, Gravy Sucking Pig. Needless to say, this started appearing in a log file (which wasn’t even supposed to be enabled in the shipped code) when a customer was having trouble, so they asked. I told the support engineer, but he figured he couldn’t tell the customer what it *really* stood for so he made up “Diagnostic Group Shutdown Partition” instead.

    Somebody please stop me before I explain the Tux capacitor.

  5. #5 NM
    June 19, 2008

    I remember being quite puzzled the first time I read “printer is on fire” in my syslog.

  6. #6 JohnQPublic
    June 19, 2008

    One from my old mainframe assembler days: someone we worked with who was later fired left behind a message in the OS code (I think this was VS1) that would randomly appear put on the console: “A.M.F.!!” Which I was told by someone meant “audios motherf___er!!”

  7. #7 charlene
    June 19, 2008

    awwww! Brought back the many happy hours I spent playing Nethack (and dying) in grad school (Beckman bears the blame; he introduced me!) when I should’ve been working on my thesis…

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