Comes A Time… (The Social Media Computer Programmers Had It Coming). Musings on Shortcomings.

When I Want Your Help….


I was going to address another topic then on my ‘page’ was this insipidly coloured phrase ‘What is the one thing you would change about yourself?’. Were it not for the unhappy experiences of one of my good friends ‘Scottie’ at Scottie’s Playtime  I would have been having a WTE (What The Earth- THE polite version- We must strive to keep an All Ages profile) interlude. But apparently, according to one of those hapless souls who work under the burden of being termed a ‘Happiness Engineer’, and I quote:

“The idea behind the feature was to help people with inspiration for writing blog posts”

To be brief, the day I need help from any WP programme to write my blogs is the day I know I have nothing left to say, and thus will shut down said blogs and watch Netflix, negotiate with the garden and plants on how they want things done, and playing board games (military and RPG).  

This is also an insult to the blogging community in general as someone in WP has assumed that there are hordes of well-meaning folk who want to have a blog but have not the wit to write anything and need to be guided into various topics. If ‘What is the one thing you would change about yourself?’. is an example this tactic is as much use as a paper tissue party hat in a rainstorm. Bloggers and readers of blogs know it is a competitive world out in the Planet Blog and you had better come up with something original or catching, and not the invitation to an existentialist musing which has already been written from all directions, serious, and comical. 

Or maybe on reflection I am being a bit too harsh, perhaps there is inspiration from these unwelcome, variable, inane comments. But maybe the folk at WP do not want to read the results.

Wait. I am not done yet 

If the previous incident was not incendiary enough to send most respectable writers and bloggers reaching for allegorical pitchforks and burning brands, then as we all know there is vast range of combustible cyber material on there. Consider this one which has made itself known to a vast number of users…

Something Went Wrong
If you have not yet encountered it, then steel yourself.

There you are trying to access something, or are half way through something when all goes down and you get this message. No indication as to what went wrong, no hint as to the user, other than to ‘try again’ you are left there devoid of assistance or direction, quite aware ‘something went wrong’ Once you have calmed down and spared your innocent machine from a ruinous demise, it is time to muse on the business. Here we are in the 21st century on the cusp of quantum mechanics and physics being any everyday tool in computer work, and yet when there is an error all that the progammers can come up with is ‘That Something Went Wrong’. They have created these systems, evolved them, and yet obviously do not have the control we expect. We are left to conclude that the age of incomprehensible computer speak with numbers obscure abbreviations and a proliferation of full stops when there is a problem has gone. In their rush to supply speed and a galactic number of apps, programmers have lost control, and we are left with…

‘Something Went Wrong’

I cringe, shudder and weep at the thought of this message being used to the more physical aspects of the world, somebody, somewhere looks at the damage, shrugs and says ‘Something Went Wrong’

I conclude this, rather satisfied that I did not resort to virulent sarcasm, and very, very bad words; let me not be tempted to push my luck.

For there is worse out there.

In the Name of Merciful Gods or Reason. Or What-Have-You.

I do not know if you have encountered this one. It may be a quirk of Microsoft Edge alone. However; there you are typing out a familiar address or clicking onto a favourite and suddenly up pops an insipidly coloured page with a message that start with ‘Hmmm….’, I have never absorbed the details beyond that because an incandescent red mist descends. I am faced with a failure in the communications network and am given a message with ‘Hmmm.’ suggesting the problem is nothing to do with anyone at Microsoft, it is something I have done wrong and they are treating me with the gentle distain of a visiting uncle looking over a child’s shoulder at their homework. (unless that is computer homework, it which the uncle had best stay out of it)

I would suggest that the person or persons who thought up this one have never had to deal face to face with an irate member of the public. I would venture to suggest further that if they did treat a member of the public like this and were assaulted, then in the subsequent legal proceedings that despite the best efforts of any Microsoft Legal team the judge and jury would look leniently upon the said member of the public, even to the extent of awarding them damages.

I would suggest for the long-term safety and well being of whoever these remote folk might be they should consider replacing ‘Hmmm.’ with ‘Sorry’ for I am sure Micrsoft lose a number of customers this way (this is a restrained comment).


Anyone who works in a specialist field (and these days it would seem most of us), will be swift to approach criticism on our task with one variation or another on the lines of ‘Yes. But what the public don’t realise….’ .And I daresay computer folk have whole libraries of responses. However, and there always is an However. Computers invade all aspects of our lives in work, leisure, well-being and so forth. Thus saying.. ‘Yes but…

Guys, it does not cut it….

Do better.

Finally, for the next time I get one of these irritants from you I shall restrict my responses to a mature and seasonally gentrified Big Raspberry


22 thoughts on “Comes A Time… (The Social Media Computer Programmers Had It Coming). Musings on Shortcomings.

  1. I applaud your restraint, my friend! I could not have done it nearly as well. When the ‘Happiness Engineers’ responded to Scottie, they gave him two ways to ‘turn off’ the writing prompts they so uselessly provide each day. Neither of their suggestions work. Another of those little annoyances we just have to live with, I suppose. Like you, if I need someone to suggest such a stupid topic as “what would you change about yourself” or “what are you wearing”, then I would have no reason to waste my time blogging, and readers would not waste their time reading such mindless drivel.

    I haven’t encountered “Hmmmmm” yet, so perhaps it is a product of MS Edge, a product I refuse to use despite MicroSoft’s numerous attempts to shove it down my throat! As I say at least once per day, “Ain’t technology grand (when it works right)?”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Y’know Jill I never noticed them until Scottie mentioned the stupidity, my office instincts might have been blocking them out.
      I think a just response would be from time to time to write a sarcastic, sardonic comment.
      If this approach catches on, WP might be obliged to withdraw the thing in shame.
      Technical flaw with technical messages are one thing, they happen y’know?
      But these puerile attempts at humour, or social blathering? These guys have never met real public. Am I right?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, glitches are one thing, but unfortunately, while almost all technology was created with the intention of improving people’s lives in one way or another, con artists have highjacked much of it for their own purposes and we’re never quite sure anymore. One example … I use a really good adblocker and I don’t remove it for these sites that insist I can only view their content if I remove my adblocker. I figure if I have to be exposed to annoying ads, then whatever their content was I can find it elsewhere. But of late, I’m seeing ads that have somehow found their way around my adblocker. Some techies apparently prefer to spend more time trying to annoy people than help them! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Yes, my friend, you are right!

        Liked by 1 person

      • One aspect these guys are missing out on is the strategy of The Soft Sell, which is the more subtle ‘flanking move’.
        One classic example is a the Irish Brewery ‘Guinness’

        Although it has to be admitted some ‘in your face’ intrusive adverts can have beneficial unintended consequences: 😏


  2. Back when I was an IT consultant, and faced with a foul-up on the system, my preferred approach was to tell the customer “You’re ######, but I’ll have it fixed by Friday*”. It turned out that at least some of them appreciated the direct approach.

    Back in the even dimmer past when I was still a working scientist, and Microsoft had just invented the annoying paperclip helper (or it’s equally annoying playmate, the dog), the air turned blue in the office as the new version was rolled out and my colleagues met the infuriating help system. I got a round of cheers as the first one to learn how to turn it off. That piece of good news travelled with speed. 🙂

    * Or other appropriate day of the week.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Folk definitely appreciate the direct and honest approach.
      Well done you for fighting back against someone’s lack of insight into how to be helpful.👏👏👏
      ‘Happiness Engineers’????
      A colleague of mine who had some experience with systems used to say programmes should be tested in ‘practice live’ conditions and ‘not in some quiet office at the testers’ own pace’
      In my office career in the UK civil service, we would often get the message ‘There will be no working this week-end as there would be a new roll-out’ The experienced staff would groan some of us would explain to the new staff that on Monday the system would have crashed and they would be relying on pen and paper (blank stares from the very young ones)…
      We were very rarely wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, stress-testing code monkeys…

        My last job was financial IT – when the system went live, or was going through any sort of upgrade, it happened over a weekend, and would take pretty much the whole weekend, day and night. For all those involved (both ourselves and the customer), everything was scheduled, including when you could sleep (not entirely joking there), with “sign-off” points and “roll-back” points if anything went wrong, culminating in me (as the tech expert) babysitting the “normal” overnight processing through Sunday night/Monday morning, which I initially did for three months solid when it first went live and threw a few surprise glitches under full operational load.

        It probably helped that functionally the team was split into two groups – the core developers, who didn’t get out much 🙂 , and the implementation team who built the customisation layer for the client, talked to the client, got angry phone calls from the client, got to stand on the main trading floor at the client’s London HQ assuring them that the fault X that they were reporting could not happen just as two of the traders demonstrated fault X right before their eyes…

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s an interesting and informative perspective from the other side of the situation.

        I worked my entire life in the UK Civil Service. Both in then then H.M.I.T and in my latter years in the Benefits agency.

        The problem being Civil Service clerical systems were actually built up by experience and precedence to evolve into being robust to handle changes in government and /or policy. A lot unofficially depending on the inventiveness, intuitions and if the region had it a determination, to get the job down. Pen and paper being a very flexible tool in the hands of skilled (albeit sometimes cynical) operators at middle and lower management level ‘on the ground’.

        This of course ran into problems when operating systems based on computer programmes of initially the 1980s were set into a system some 70 -80 years in the making and staff found they had lost flexibility..
        Also, because governments always like things done on the cheap (at face value) I suspect we never, regularly anyway got the best folk available for the tasks which required making legislation into prgrammes in turn into workable processes for mass processing at a pace.
        This was demonstrated when a new launch would be accompanied by a list of work-throughs, indicating kinks had not been ironed out, ‘but this is the best you are going to have folks’ .
        Sometimes there were good interludes. I was new to one team with no experience of their methods of operations. That Monday the entire revised system they were working with crashed. It was a joy to watch five people bouncing ideas off of each other on how they could keep a service going using old records, bits of the old system still working and the phone. For two days they held a system together with ‘string’. It was a privilege to be part of it (in a 55 year old office boy sort of way).
        It is always the ‘Despite everything. We managed it feeling’ which never grows old.

        (Even if that does mean some policy makers and their acolytes who started the whole mess took the credit for it)

        Good times. Eh 🤔?
        Sort of😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • Good times… let me think about that for a while…

        I suppose the Civil Service taught me cynicism, which has its uses. And it taught me… OK, cynicism.
        I always said they were the one outfit I would never work for…

        Funnily enough, the reason I ended up in IT was that after 11 years in the scientific civil service, I couldn’t stand the frustration of the system any longer. Fortunately, my last job there was heavily focused on analysis and software modelling which gave me a chance to polish my IT skills and leave. 🙂

        One of the the challenges in leaving was that those IT skills were focused on FORTRAN which was not in high demand in the outside world. I was lucky to find an outfit who used an even more obscure language and just wanted generic programming skills.

        My very last job actually hired me *because* of the FORTRAN experience. 🙂
        They were replacing a FORTRAN-based system, like-for-like, and wanted someone who could read the old code.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The UK Civil Service was in its Clerical Day like the Royal Navy, there were tragedies and disasters but the Service prevailed.
        Then ‘They’ (aka Westminster in various forms) brought in ‘Commercial Thinking’. As it was more ‘efficient’
        The basic conflict being ‘Commercial’ thinking is about profit and customer motivation. The Civil Service was about administration of the laws and at its best guiding the public through that process; not making a profit.
        There has been a general decline since ‘Commercial’ was imposed…..I knew something was up the day the Nabobs sitting at the top of HMIT decided there were no longer ‘taxpayers’ but ‘customers’….My years in HIMIT suggested choice with customers, but taxpayers?…nope! The scenario of someone saying ‘I don’t like the way this govt uses my taxes, I’m signing up with (say) Belgium, they’ll give me a better deal’. Just did not work.
        Anyway, all passed now and I may find sanity (it’s taking 10 years of retirement but I’m getting there).

        That’s interesting about FORTRAN. A short while back I read an article suggesting that as computer programming progresses earlier generations of records will become inaccessible as the programmes will not be able to talk to each other.
        Bearing in mind that some articles are slanted to attract readers rather than stick rigidly to the facts, what are your views on that?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I remember being privatised…
        My first boss there (60-going-on-18) quietly let his hair grow in the run-up to the day we were handed over to commercial reality (or rather a weird fantasy-land version of commercial reality) and came in on the big day in a stetson, matching boots, jeans and shirt with string-tie, hair in a pony tail, and explained very loudly to the grade 6 that if we were going to be run by cowboys, he was going to dress like one.

        When I move to the IT section, one of the ongoing tasks (albeit a relatively minor one) was ensuring that old code and old data was still accessible as hardware and systems moved on.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I like your then boss’ style. That shows class.
        The efforts in ensuring accessibility to old code is somewhat comforting. Headlines are not always accurate.
        I recall the stories of ‘computers talking to each other in a secret language’, wondering on the accuracy of that.
        A little way down the line up arose an engineer’s explanation as what actually happened, how and why, in detail. Most of it went over my head, but the theme was ‘It was all a test run’.
        And we blunder on with errors and unexpected consequences- ‘Twas ever thus.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I have no doubt the little electronic devils talk to each other in a secret language. How else would they know just when to fail for the maximum inconvenience? 😠

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s perfect. No killer robots. No ammunition required. Just keep on doing what they’re doing, but ever more frustrating until our heads explode.

        There’s already an emoji for it. 🤯

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, Sir Roger, what is left to say after the post and all its comments.
    “When it works be thankful. When it doesn’t work, get drunk.” Or some such action.
    Unfortunately, I stopped drinking over 40 years ago. Now I cannot even take my own advice. WTE!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah-ha. We both know that ‘Skynet’ out of Terminator, never went away, just found new ways to attempt to destroy humanity. But we fight back!
      Back in ‘The Day’ (aka Collapsalys Now) when working in UK Civil Service I formulated the idea that computers responded to visceral hate and the quiet suggestion (from our third floor office space) that maybe mine would like to check out the law of gravity.
      Fast forward to the present. And the home of two sort of sedate 70+ year olds of 49 years marriage and the easy-going sort of Christian beliefs. Both turn on their laptops, usually within 30 mins the language would do a barracks on any army camp proud.
      It’s our way of dealing with the cyber-fiends!
      Never let them believe we obey.
      Take care out there good friend.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s