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Bug of the moment 2006-10-29


A couple of little pre-Hallowe’en horrors for everyone. Starting with my favourite pet hate: inadequate GUIs. I was playing around with Apple’s Mail client, and found that it shipped with a mail rule. I went to take a look at it, and this sheet popped up:

I think this might be what people call a “pathological case”: something so retarded that no-one’s ever going to try doing it (except me of course) and for programmers, not always worth the effort protecting yourself against anyone dumb enough to try it. Such as drawing (attempting to draw!) an infinite-length letter in a handwriting recognition system until it overflows.

But no; straight out of the box, an example of why graphical interfaces need to be built on a proper solid foundation instead of the continual dubious approach of hard-coding every control to pixel co-ordinates and taking complete responsibility of how the interface operates. Had this sheet been based on a proper dynamic window layout then the GUI would have realised there was a problem and put in a scroll bar or two. But no.


But here is something really surreal. I discovered this bug a long time ago but my file system got hosed some time later and I lost the pics. But the bug recurred in another app so I got to take some more pictures. It was about all I could do though:

My intent was to screenshot this menu in BBEdit for Jeni:

Knowing that Carbon has compatibility issues with Snapz Pro (and it was screenshotting a menu in Snak with Snapz Pro last time that caused this crash) I stuck to the built-in screenshot system. Too bad it had the same results! Well, no, because that would have been no fun. This was the first sign of madness:

I …

don’t …

think …

it’s meant to look like this:

The last picture is me using GraphicConverter to save a copy for Jeni (apart from the screen, the system was otherwise fully functional.) Note that menus were no longer visible – I was navigating the menu bar and A-Dock’s menus “blind” to hide and close apps – and the clock had stopped (nothing to do with leaving British Summer Time). Title bars and window borders also would not draw in.

If you want a pathological case of this bug too, there you go. You can see there that the clock isn’t going any more.

The only thing missing is that Snapz Pro briefly inverts the entire screen during a screenshot. With the aforementioned original discovery of this bug, I was left with an inverted screen with just any new updates being redrawn in their correct colours. (Not as fun as permanently switching Mac OS X to inverted video, like, oh, in a store ;)


Posted 29th October 2006 – Comments and questions?