Subject: Error message when I try to save my PowerPoint

When you work at a design company you are surrounded by designers. They are all intelligent, perceptive, have a great sense of humor, and they often indulge in good-natured ribbing. They also have Photoshop skills.

There’s always laughter in the hallways, funny pictures on the walls, and occasionally the funny pictures make it to email. Here’s an amusing exchange that took place on an internal email thread a couple of weeks ago.

One of our smart designers, Golden Krishna, was rebuffed by Microsoft Office with a particularly unhelpful error message. Grabbing a screen image, he clipped it, pasted it into an email, and posted it to his colleagues. Several members of the staff immediately pounced.

Here’s what Golden first posted:
PowerPoint found an error that it can't correct. You should save presentations, quit, and then restart PowerPoint.

He was being sardonic, pointing out just how unhelpful error messages can be. Another smart designer, Glen, responded immediately with this doctored error message:
PowerPoint is a piece of crap. You should stop using PowerPoint.

And that opened the floodgates. Chris suggested a more human approach:
Why don't you try just talking to people for a change? Nobody talks anymore.

Brendan retorted that Golden might want to confine his complaint to the complaint department:
Please feel free to contact your IT department first before contacting the entire company.

Then Glen took another tack entirely, with this 2001: A Space Odyssey reference:
I'm sorry, Golden. I'm afraid I can't do that.

Doug, jumping on the movie reference bandwagon, added his homage to Dirty Harry:
I know what you're thinking, Golden. 'Did it save my file before it crashed?' Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track.
Chris, ignoring the movie thing, went for the anthropomorphic slant:
Can you hold a moment? Thaaanks. So, anyway, Excel, I was sitting there, minding my own business, when Word comes barging in, pretty as you please, talking something about how her sister just HAD to borrow their cousin's car to go on some crazy road trip to...
The attitude of that message generated a petulant response in kind from Doug:
Did something go catastrophically wrong? YES. Am I sorry? YES. Is it going to happen again? Maybe, I don't know, I can't predict the future. You're just going to have to be okay with that. Okay? OKAY?

And in the long-standing, much honored tradition of piling-on, Doug responded to his own petulance with uber-petulance, to wit:
And another thing: I've never pretended to be perfect. There's nothing on the box that say, 'perfect software included.' And speaking of perfect, that presentation you were working on? Was that 'perfect?' Was it? I didn't think so. So let's move on.

That brought the exchange to a close. The first email was posted at 11:18 AM, and the final one was stamped 1:41 PM. Quiet returned to the office. I love working with designers.

Alan Cooper
Alan Cooper

Alan Cooper is the co-founder of Cooper and a pioneer of the modern computing era. He created the programming language Visual Basic and wrote industry-standard books on design practice like “About Face.”

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