Easter Eggs are hidden bits of code designed to surprise and delight you. I sometimes wonder whether messages from Windows fall into the same category.
Your Recharging Computer Needs to Be Recharged
Last year I reported on the warning from Windows that my notebook computer's battery was low, and that it should be plugged in to recharge -- even as Windows also displayed the lightning bolt icon that indicates the battery being recharged (which it was).
This Temporary Change is Permanent
This week I set up my dad's new 17" Toshiba notebook. He still uses dial-up, and to test his Internet connection, I needed to add a "1" to the phone number to call long distance to his ISP (my dad lives in another city). Windows ME Second Edition (err, Vista) asked if this was a temporary change, and I replied Yes.
The next day my dad called to say that he couldn't connect to the Internet. He drove out to bring over the computer, and I quickly found the problem: Windows had retained the "1" as part of the phone number. Vista: Microsoft's best OS yet!
That bug cost my dad $30: $10 in gas to drive out here, and the $20 he pays me to fix his computer problems.
(As an aside, he had bought the computer at Staples. Before seeing me, he brought the computer back to Staples, but the "techie" there couldn't figure out the problem.)
This Fast USB Port Isn't as Fast as Itself
I plugged my Zen Micro MP3 player into my notebook computer today, and came across another Windows Easter egg (er, message). This particular Compaq notebook has three USB ports, all high-speed USB2.
After a while, a yellow balloon appeared (illustrated below), telling me that the "USB device" is a capable of high-speed data transfer. (Would a neophyte user equate "this USB device" with the music player?)
I clicked the balloon see what would happen. Windows XP displayed a helpful dialog box (illustrated below) listing in boldface the USB port it suggests I use instead.
Can you imagine the confusion experienced by neophyte users?
* Windows XP lists 8 USB ports, but the computer has just 3.
* Only one port is shown in use ("USB Mass Storage Device"), but all three USB ports are in use (by a mouse, an external hard drive, and the Zen Micro).
* The port that Microsoft programmers suggest I use is the one highlighted in boldface, the root hub! How do I plug into a root hub?
* The list of ports has a white background, meaning the items are accessible and changeable by the user; but I cannot. It is merely an information list, and should be shown with a gray background (to indicate read-only).
* No online help for this dialog box, except for the handy Close button.
As it turns out, this is a false error message. I had the Zen Micro hooked up to a special USB cable, and I suspect it fooled Windows. Here's egg on them.