Most famous software bugs

Software bugs concern all of us. I'm a developper, so I create them. You're a software user, so you're a victim of them. Most bugs are at most annoying, but in these cases, proof is given that some of them can be devastating. The most famous one I recall is the failure of one of the NASA Mars probes, that crashed into the red planet, because different units were used by different teams.

The Excellent Prismatic Spray

I was browsing Proxis, just to discover they had nearly nothing available in Dutch of my two favourite writers, Jack Vance and Stephen Donaldson. I ended up ordering Rhialto, the Marvellous. Nice to see that Proxis decided again not to charge anything for shipping.

Anyway, Rhialto is a part of the Tales of the Dying Earth rogue series, a very amusing set of books which tell the tale of Cugel, who tries to survive by his wit and luck - with varying results. I especially recommend The Eyes of the Overworld; pick it up if you find it in your local library. is a site about a RPG based upon these novels. On the site, you'll find different amusing PDF files explaining the scenery in which the game takes place, and provide an excellent introduction to get you in the mood. Part one and three of these PDF files, called The Excellent Prismatic Spray, are free for download, and nicely illustrated.

Tales from the Helldesk

Helpdesks (or as I call them, HellDesks) stories are the most funniest stories for computer people. Tales of luser programs borken, mouse problems etc are generally a trip down to luser incompetence of working with computers. Even worse is a job where you're a technician, and have to deal with this kind of stuff yourself.

The Chronicles of George is a collection of helpdesk tickets gleaned from the support database. The author was employed there for twenty months, and during that time he had the misfortune of encountering an individual who he will call George.

George is, quite simply, the worst helpdesk technician ever.


While struggling my way through documentation of 3DES encryption, I found a site explaining in detail about the Enigma, a typewriter like machine, used by the Nazi''s in World War II to encrypt military messages. This article is a lengthy piece which appeared originaly in Nautical Brass magazine, and reads like a book :

The Enigma could have been unbreakable, at least with the methods available at the time, had the machine been used properly. The biggest mistake the Germans made was their blind belief in the invincibility of Enigma. Procedural errors in using the machine, combined with occasional operator laziness, allowed the Poles and, subsequently the British, to crack the "unbreakable" codes.

The Found Magazine

The Found Magazine is a website about the lost and found objects people find on the street : love letters, birthday cards, kids' homework, to-do lists, ... - anything that gives a glimpse into someone else's life.