WTF Is An Unknown Error?

Aug 23, 2010

One thing that really cheeses me off is to use some commercial piece of software and get an "unknown error". Did I just discover a new kind of error never before seen during humankind's existence on this planet? Is it an alien message misunderstood by the earthbound software? Is there a micro black hole in my computer?

No of course not, silly. If it was known then it wouldn't be unknown.

Pardon my confusion when I get these unknown errors, they cause unknown cuss words and unknown (or at least unpleasant) behavior.

So what is an unknown error? It's clearly a case of undone QA. Remember Quality Assurance? That under-appreciated, low paying, forgotten department that gets in the way of shipping your quality software by ensuring it is, well, quality software.

Yet every time I see an error message "unknown error" I think of the poor unknown QA person toiling in a miserable 5x5 cube with no lunch break, testing the code, reporting the bugs, and then watching the software fly out of the warehouse or bit dump with nary a fix in sight. Oh woe the poor QA minion who dares to note there is a problem; surely they will be removed from their overly generous 5x5 cube and booted into oblivion where they will wail and gnash their teeth.

Or something like that.

When I try to run my latest iPad project I get "Error from Debugger: Failed to launch simulated application: Unknown Error." This makes me wonder what poor sad minion was canned for daring to ask "should be not provide developers with more information on why their project will not run so that they can fix the damn thing?" I can imagine the little QAer quivering in their boots as the mighty Manager thunders "NO! A thousand times, NO! Developers are not permitted to know such intimate details so therefore we shall only provide 'Unknown Error!' and they shall be happy!".

Sigh.