Screenshot doesn't suffice

When a picture wasn't worth a thousand words

Screenshot doesn't suffice

New Zealand programmer fish receives a call from another organisation, no less from super-intelligent scientists at one of the Crown Research Institutes. They have been experiencing problems with a scientific application that fish helped develop. Naturally, one of the first steps in resolving a problem is to determine what happened, so fish asks to see the log files, giving clear instructions on how to find the files and which ones he needed to see.

Diligently enough, they sent through an email with a 600KB

attachment. However, the attachment wasn't as useful as the actual log files would have been. What they sent through was a screenshot of Windows Explorer showing the log files, encoded in the highest quality lossless image file format available: a .tif file.

The technological prowess used to capture a screenshot in .tif format was duly admired, but fish did insist that the original text files be sent through for technical, rather than artistic, analysis.

Diagnostics diagnosed

A large computer company is months into a new contract to replace IT equipment at a major government agency, says a pilot fish on the team. But then a problem shows up. "With hundreds of desktops deployed and many hundreds more on order to be shipped, the manager at the configuration centre reports system crashes frequently observed during testing after set-up," fish says. In fact, crashes are happening so often that fish is ordered to implement a complete retrofit plan for the desktops that are already in the field. Thus begins a series of daily phone conferences with a huge number of managers and technical staff. Every day for a week and a half, fish hears the reports: Motherboards from the failed units are sent out for evaluation. Changes are made to the new motherboards to be installed. And the crashes just keep coming. Then, midway through one of the conference calls, the manager of the configuration centre casually mentions that machines tested during the day have had no problems. The only ones that crash are the ones that run their diagnostics overnight. In shock, fish stares across the conference table at his boss and quietly says, "It's the diagnostics." A few heartbeats later, one of the techs on the phone asks, "Has anyone checked the diagnostics?" Reports fish, "Testing quickly revealed that the diagnostic program for the monitor was not completely clearing memory after each test. When left to run overnight, a memory overflow caused a crash."

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