If I was a proper programmer...

… I’d write a decent synchronisation solution. For God’s sake, what kind of an error message for end-users is this?


This is from mark/space’s Missing Sync application but to be honest, could have come from anything: they’re all crap!


  1. You can't ever be a proper programmer. You started with @formulas on non-relational files. :-)Volker Weber#
  2. Did not! I started with BASIC in 1980 :-D Ben Poole#
  3. Yeah. That sounds better. :-D Volker Weber#
  4. Can't help but mention what Edsger Dijkstra said about BASIC programmers: It is practically impossible to teach good programming to students that have had a prior exposure to BASIC: as potential programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of regeneration.

    But he was a cranky old coot :)Bob Congdon#
  5. Hey, I didn’t say a knowledge of BASIC was a good thing, and I’ve already laid out my (lack of) qualifications in the opening sentence of this post ;-)

    I will say this however: whilst Dijkstra was no doubt a very clever man, his propensity for hype-tastic paper titles, combined with his general attitude (“mentally mutilated”—give me a break!) left a lot to be desired.Ben Poole#
  6. It's a pretty famous quote, I will hand that to Bob. But it does not go much beyond "real programmers don't use …". We should see it as my first comment: a futile attempt of being humorous.Volker Weber#
  7. You of all people should know that you can’t be humorous about anything to do with Lotus Notes, Volker: doing so will mark your card! :-D Ben Poole#
  8. Yup. It's serious business.Volker Weber#
  9. Is there hope for people who started on COBOL?
    :-) stwStephan H. Wissel#
  10. Yeah, there's hope for Cobolists! Here's one too! (In fact my first programming experiences were with Algol-60…)LN#
  11. While you are absolutely correct that the error message is too cryptic for most users, it actually does mean something to our support or engineering groups and can help us figure out remotely what went wrong.

    The error messages we expect to display are typically written in nicer language, but some of the unexpected ones haven't been translated. The alternative is a generic "Error reading from device" message, which is even more annoying to everyone involved.

    We are discussing alternatives, such as displaying more end-user friendly messages by default and then more technical/geeky ones optionally.

    Mark/Space Engineering

  12. Thanks for dropping by Eric! I’m sure the error does mean something to support. I’m just moaning because I see errors like this pretty much every time I do a sync, even when I tell Missing Sync to overwrite everything on the BlackBerry. PocketMac was even worse.

    I’m of the opinion that the only error messages that should be displayed are ones which the user can actually do something about—anything else has to be hidden—logged by all means, but hidden.

    Anyway, I’m not out to pick on Mark/Space; to be honest, I find most synchronisation apps are really bad at this e.g. Lotus EasySync and the worst offender of all time SAP MOBILE ENGINE (that app is just foul, and should not exist).Ben Poole#

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