Message 2 of 1

Message 2 out of 1 Messages
– My Answering Machine

My answering machine recently told me I was listening to message 2 out of 1. This struck me as an odd numbering scheme. I know it’s been a while since Sesame Street but I’m pretty sure counting just doesn’t work like that.

Counting Correctly Counts

We depend on machines to count things accurately. We suck at math and don’t like to add things up in our heads or on paper. We don’t ask our computers to compose great symphonies or paint masterpieces but we count on them to add up numbers well. Our reliance on the accuracy of computers in doing math is so deep that we are shocked and confused when one fails us.

Not to make a huge issue of this but it’s something that developers should be aware of. Even a seemingly small arithmetic or counting error on a computer screen will hit users hard and undermine their fundamental trust in computers as infallible counting machines. If your numbering schemes are off or show things like “2 out of 1” because you didn’t have sufficient error checks in your code it will undermine trust in the system. That’s a bad thing.

Kevin Hall
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