NETWORK WORLD NEWSLETTER: GIBBS & BRADNER 04/13/04
Today's focus: Anomalous things
By Mark Gibbs
Anomalous Message: "An unexpected error has occurred." - An
unexpected message unexpectedly produced by Microsoft Word.
The error message I quote above fascinates me in a strange and
unwholesome way because it raises all sorts of questions: If the
error is unexpected are there errors that are expected? And if there
is such a thing as an expected error, couldn't someone prevent it
Moreover, when an unexpected error happens how do you know it is
actually an error rather than being perhaps an unexpected feature .
. . because if it is unexpected, how can you know if it is an error
This reminds me of my previous favorite error message: "Error: No
error," which Windows used to occasionally show and is available for
your pleasure on various other platforms (go to Weird Error Messages
- <http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?WeirdErrorMessages> - for an explanation
of the Windows version). But I digress . . .
What really gets me is that despite searching the 'Net, I can find
no reference to this exact message from Word because the text "An
unexpected error has occurred" wasn't accompanied by any other
explanations for my error (or should that be "non-error"). There was
no status code, no supporting explanation - simply that lean and
hungry-looking, Zen-like, philosophically challenging, totally
unhelpful text that preceded Word disappearing along with my
document rather like your drinking buddies disappearing when that
huge bar bill appears.
Anomalous Relationship: "We are both big developers of intellectual
property. We both own lots of patents." - Microsoft CEO Steve
Ballmer referring to a commonality between his company and Sun that
really doesn't explain their new accord (
<http://www.nwfusion.com/news/2004/0402sunsettl.html> ) unless you
understand the subtext.
The day after April Fool's Day we saw a fine exhibition of the old
Italian saying, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,"
as Ballmer and Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun, hugged each other, swapped
Red Wings jerseys and declared, "We do both believe in intellectual
Let me rephrase that statement: "We do both believe that open source
in general and Linux in particular are real threats to our
So to settle Sun's outstanding law suit against Microsoft over the
latter's fast and loose ways with Java, Microsoft shook $1.2 billion
out of its coffee fund and Sun suddenly had a new best friend.
In the light of McNealy having dressed up as a penguin way back in
2002 ( <http://www.nwfusion.com/nlgibrad32> ), the newfound
friendship reeks of desperation and opportunism on Sun's part and
business as usual at Microsoft. Might Microsoft buy Sun? Hmm.
Anomalous Legalities: "IBM's untimely responses to discovery have
hindered orderly prosecution of the case." - The SCO Group's
lawyers trying to make the company's case against Big Blue sound
like normal business - which might well be how it actually is for
SCO, in its ongoing efforts to tick off as many people as possible
for as long as possible, is trying to drag out its case against IBM
by asking the judge to slide the trial from the currently scheduled
April 2005 to September 2005. SCO says IBM isn't cooperating with
the discovery process, while IBM says SCO is being unreasonable in
asking for every version of Unix it ever had anything to do with.
The fact that after all this time SCO refuses to substantiate its
claims of copyright infringement in Linux (the company first sued
IBM more than a year ago) continues to make SCO look like Mafia
hoods trying to shake down neighborhood business owners.