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Dear pupils trying to download Minecraft

After the 4th time in 2 minutes that the antivirus program blocks your Minecraft.exe download from a dodgy third-party site, you should perhaps take the hint that:

  1. that isn’t a legit copy of Minecraft, and
  2. that isn’t what you should be doing in an English lesson anyway.

The antivirus emails me when it blocks a threat. So I’ve had a few emails. Don’t be surprised if I remote view your screen, take some screenshots, and forward them to your teacher.

Dear School Trip Leader

When I tell you not to copy photos of children from the residential trip onto your personal laptop, it’s not just because there is a school policy forbidding it.

It’s not just to protect you from unwarranted accusations of impropriety regarding the photos of children you are storing.

And it’s not just because it’s a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.

It’s also because your personal computer is a MacBook, and every time I have to spend an hour unpicking the vague error messages that iPhoto spits out when trying to export those photos, it makes me want to smash that MacBook over your head repeatedly.

Love and kisses,

Dear Windows team

I know the Sound Recorder program  in Windows 7 isn’t something you probably spent much time on, but here’s a tip: flooding the Event log with 18 messages per second due to an invalid pointer exception you couldn’t be bothered to handle properly is not very helpful when I’m trying to troubleshoot.

Sound Recorder 0x80004003

Please learn to use exception handling properly, and while you’re at it, build in a counter check to make sure you aren’t writing 79,000 messages to the event log in a single session.

Love and kisses,

Dear iWork users

Stop sending your stupid Pages files to people via email.

Some of us use computers for actual work and not just dicking around, so we have Windows computers. Even those die-hard Mac users who actually do work on them tend to install OpenOffice or buy Office for Mac, rather than use iWork.

I’m tired of trying to convert your documents for you because our staff have no idea what to do with them, so either sort your Mac out with a proper office suite or BUY A REAL COMPUTER.

Love and kisses,

Dear Facebook. About these Ads…

You know I work in a school. You know I’m married. You know these things because I dutifully filled them in on my profile so you could sell my data to advertisers.

So, when you show me dating ads entitled “Meet Your Girlfriend” with a picture of a girl who looks suspiciously under-age, this is not just badly targeted or inappropriate, it is actually downright offensive.



Edit: This page used to contain a screenshot of the ad in question, but this was removed following receipt of a DMCA takedown notice on 2nd April 2013. See the below comment for more information.

Dear Dell

What kind of booze-addled lunatic designs a server BIOS update that resets the configuration of the SATA controller, rendering the server unbootable?

What’s more, which moron on your technical author staff managed to completely omit even a mere mention of this idiocy from the installation instructions or the Readme?

Love and kisses (and a little bit of despair),

(For anyone else planning a BIOS update of a Dell PowerEdge R410, the 1.5.3 version added support for AHCI to the BIOS, and switches to this mode by default after the update. You’ll need to switch it back to RAID in the BIOS if you want your server to boot. You will be warned that “data loss will occur” but the RAID configuration should still be intact.)

Dear Year 7

Changing your fellow students’ desktop background to My Little Pony without their knowledge is only amusing in exactly one circumstance.

That circumstance is “when I do it.” *

If you decide to ‘borrow’ their password, log on in the Library when no-ones looking, and muck around with their account, that is what people in the real world like to call “an offence under section 1 of the Computer Misuse Act 1990”.

Stop it.

(And while you’re here, enough with the Wikipedia vandalism already.)

Love and kisses,

* as a friendly reminder when they forget to log off.

Dear Granada Learning

After many years of deliberation, I have concluded that you are incapable of producing software with any regard to the technical requirements of modern computing systems. Demanding local administrator rights might have been acceptable 10 years ago, but it sure as hell isn’t today. MSI deployment? Forget it. Run from the network? Only with a mapped drive. Activation? Go round to every machine.

Every piece of software I’ve ever had to install from you has been awkward and bug-ridden. It disgusts me that you are still in business. Every time I think “maybe they’ve got this one right,” and every time, I’m wrong.

The simple fact is that you are not good at this. I realise that after this long it’s too much to ask that you will wither and die, so please just find something else to produce, and someone else to annoy.

Love and kisses,

Dear Flickr

When I linked my Facebook account to Flickr, I did so because the built-in Flickr publishing that Facebook provides is slow to recognise when I’ve uploaded new photos. I thought you could do a better job. Then I uploaded 23 photos to my photostream, and found that you had sent 23 separate updates to Facebook saying I had uploaded 1 new photo, instead of 1 update saying I’d uploaded 23 photos. You literally took over my wall. It was horrific, and it left me wondering one thing.


Seriously, what led your designers to think this was in any way a good idea? This is the exact same BS you used to pull with LiveJournal updates, and it shows that you clearly haven’t learned how people use social media. You’re the foremost photo sharing website in the world, and yet you seem to have no concept whatsoever of how people want to share content outside your own site. Please get your act together. Some of us actually pay for your service, and this really needs to be better.

Love and kisses,

Dear Microsoft

I’m not sure if Microsoft Query is actually part of Windows or part of Office, but whichever is responsible for it, neither Office 2010 nor Windows 7 should contain software with an interface this cumbersome and ugly:

Even Word 95 on Windows 7 looks better than this. I know, because I’ve tried it. It works better too. Anything more complicated than the simple relationship I’ve shown here is almost impossible to work with. I was trying to import some SQL Server data into Excel 2010 last week, and I spent half an hour with this damned thing trying to correctly tie only 4 criteria together, and I was only using AND and OR. I gave up and edited the SQL manually.

I know you can do better than this, because I frequently work with complex queries in SQL Management Studio, and the query designer in that is a thing of beauty. Microsoft Query, on the other hand, is a beast. A monstrosity. An embarrassment to modern computing. Hold on, my phone is ringing… oh hey, it’s for you; it’s 1992 and they want their user interface design back.

Love and kisses,