As is often the case, an email message in my inbox had a calendar appointment attached to it. I dutifully clicked the attachment so that Outlook (which I use only for calendaring purposes) would ingest it. This time, however, it refused to do so.

Clearly in need of help, I clicked the "Show Help" button.

As you might have surmised, that doesn't help at all. I don't know how to "set the appointment option" either in general or in this specific case. Clearly in need of more help, I clicked the hyperlink "More information about this error message online" and hoped to get more information.

Strictly speaking, I guess I got "more" information--mainly some useless metadata about the error.

Is it any wonder that I don't entrust my actual email to Outlook too?

Posted by jzawodn at October 16, 2006 12:44 PM

Reader Comments
# Joseph Hunkins said:

Ha - You've probably heard the Microsoft Building Helicopter Joke:

I think all you needed to do here was adapt the keyboard to recognize Microsoft's Gregorian Rokuyou markup language, download the GRML plugin, and learn to write in Japanese.

Sheesh - ya call yourself an engineer?

on October 16, 2006 01:00 PM
# Sam said:

That error is usually something to do with dates and timezones being something it doesn't understand.

on October 16, 2006 02:28 PM
# Lisa said:

You don't entrust Outlook because of this? Come on. You don't entrust Outlook because it is made by a competitor. Skip the smarmy stuff in the future. It's not like anyone is going to 'come to their senses' about Outlook because of this stuff.

on October 16, 2006 02:45 PM
# Ryan said:

Hey, at least that's a better error message than "You Suck and That Makes Me Sad." but not quite as funny.

I don't even wanna start on everything that's wrong with outlook..


on October 16, 2006 02:49 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


Nice try. Actually, I lost faith in Outlook (and Novell Groupwise, for that matter) before I ever worked at a Microsoft competitor.

on October 16, 2006 03:01 PM
# Adam Trachtenberg said:

Is that message from Evite? If so, you're not the only one:

on October 16, 2006 04:27 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


Nope. It's a from a guy named Fergus. Not even close.

I'm starting to wonder if I shouldn't schedule a lunar appointment. It's been ages since man has set foot on the moon. It's time we fixed that.

on October 16, 2006 04:30 PM
# Malcolm Tredinnick said:

You don't mention that the error message doesn't appear to make a lot of sense, either. It's complaining about not be able to *import* something and then directs you to the *save* options (for what appears to be the same product as is importing the file).

The problem seems to violate the principle of not letting you do something wrong, rather than telling you about it. If Office can't load recurring lunar appointments, then it should be clearly labelled "not suitable for werewolves" (there's a tort case waiting to happen) and shouldn't let you save such a case. Waiting until the wings fall off your plane before clearly stating "you are now screwed" seems like bad design.

on October 16, 2006 05:18 PM
# Ryan said:

what's this principle of not letting you do something wrong? I don't like that theory.

To quote a college professor of mine who used to work at adobe:

"My theory of software is like this: I give you a knife. You can butter your bread or stab yourself in the foot. Either way, it's not my problem what you do with the knife."

I know we can argue this.. but I like the "here's a tool use it how you see fit" approach better.

on October 16, 2006 05:58 PM
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