July 26th, 2007 • 10:41 am
Yet another Microsoft-sponsored WTF moment… I mean, here I am, having to do a translation of an English document that is a table in an Excel file. It’s mostly text, but it’s a table, so I guess Excel was deemed an appropriate tool for authoring this particular document. I don’t know—I am just the translator.
So I am typing away in Excel table cells, constantly cursing Microsoft engineers for having invented these two incompatible editing modes where common keyboard shortcuts involving the cursor keys have different behaviours depending on which mode you are in—and of course there are no consistent visual clues regarding the mode you are currently in. But anyway, that’s another story…
Most of the cells contain a few lines of text, so on top of it all I have to deal with the ugliness of Excel trying to cope with vertical alignment issues… Not a pretty sight.
And then all of a sudden, I type a few lines of text and I press Return to go to the next cell, and I get this:
Can you believe this? I have absolutely no idea where this comes from. I am not aware of anyone ever having imposed restrictions on the number of characters you can enter in table cell. And even if it were possible, I am entirely sure that the author of the document that I am translating has not imposed any such restrictions anywhere in his document.
Of course, the error message is not even true. If I hit “Retry” and try again, I get the same error message. If I hit “Cancel,” Excel erases the entire contents of the cell. But if I type the same text elsewhere, then cut and paste it into the same cell, Excel doesn’t make a peep, and the text is indeed there in full, non-truncated, over-100-chars glory.
Microsoft’s products are really the only Mac software that is so crappy that it still unexpectedly, randomly comes up with such absurd error messages which seem to result from weird computer code time warps. I mean, I suppose there might have been a time, circa 1983, where it was indeed impossible to enter more than 100 characters in an Excel table cell. This error message must have come from somewhere.
But that it would surface now, in 2007, while I am editing a table in Excel 2004 under Mac OS X 10.4, in a document and an application which obviously do not suffer from such restrictions, is simply beyond belief.
And it’s so bad that the single-sentence message is not even written properly. Check out the capital “C” on “Characters” and the missing period at the end. It’s mind-boggling.
I really do believe that this particular error message must be in a piece of code that is left over from the 1980s. There is no other possible explanation.
As for identifying the actual behaviour that is causing this particular bug/message to surface, don’t even get me started… Microsoft also specializes in bugs that are impossible to reproduce reliably, so that they don’t even have to fix them.
Yet, you know, I didn’t invent this dialog box. It really did appear on my machine this very morning, i.e. on July 26, 2007 at 10:30 am AST.
As I said—it’s unbelievable.