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February 21, 2007 12:03 AM

Broken: Wegman's cake text

CakeFrom LiveJournal user Nonumnos:

Wegmans is a large and growing grocery chain originating out of Rochester, NY.

Apparently, you can email an order to the Wegman's bakery for cakes - including what message you want on the cake.

The cake above was supposed to be a mix of English and Italian, but the staff apparently knew no Italian. The problem? Wegman's email system also apparently did not recognize some of the proprietary Microsoft HTML extensions!

The email likely feeds directly into their computer that runs the food-grade equivalent of an inkjet printer to place the message on the cake, so it is possible that the message made it onto the cake because someone did not check it on the computer first.

Link to story.


[!-- First --]

[!-- I love how this is broken. You'd think that the person icing the cake would notice that something wasn't right. It seems like so many things have failed here: Microsoft, for using crappy HTML in normal everyday emails, the printer, for not understanding and outputting the crappy HTML, and the baker, who didn't notice that this wasn't quite right. --]

Posted by: Chris at February 21, 2007 02:03 AM

I would actually keep the cake this way, but my friends and I are nerds like that. Here, the fault would be with whoever is supposed to check that the cake text matches the request. Why would a baker, who only makes the cake and may not be familiar with HTTP, be expected to know that the "error"-looking text wasn't intentional? A computer prints the edible text, so there should be a "final check" person.

Posted by: klew at February 21, 2007 02:09 AM

This is the epitome of broken. I am in awe.

Posted by: tartan at February 21, 2007 09:03 AM

Two things broken: That they didn't check it before printing (but maybe they did and thought it was supposed to be that way? I can see myself ordering something like that), and that Microsoft decided to break e-Mail.

Posted by: LKM at February 21, 2007 09:08 AM

I am always setting my Outlook program to use plain text in emails, but somehow it manages to find its way back to 'Rich Text' for unknown reasons. Why does Micro$oft think that this is better?

Posted by: gedstrom at February 21, 2007 12:22 PM

Textbook example of why standards compliance is important and proprietary "extensions," particularly as implemented by MS, are broken. I mean, these are empty tags...there's nothing between the opening and closing brackets. This is why MS FrontPage was famous for turning a small text-only page into a bloated monstrosity and Dreamweaver (a competing software package from another maker) had a command specifically for FrontPage documents to thin down all the empty and redundant code that didn't actually do anything. When your competitors make money on fixing what you've broken, I'd say that's a pretty strong indication that you've lost your way. Of course, so is a birthday cake decorated with your "extensions."

Posted by: Erich at February 21, 2007 05:33 PM

When I saw the picture, I laughed so hard. A cake with HTML code on it! This one really takes the cake. Was this actually delivered to the customer?

Ya know what, they ought to market this. I'm now thinking of getting a cake covered with Visual Basic delivered to my programmer buddy. He'd get a kick out of it.

Posted by: KarmaBaby at February 21, 2007 09:05 PM

I like how you guys take every possible opportunity to bash Microsoft.

This is 100% the fault of the printer and nothing else.

If I fail to notice that my break fluid is low and get into an accident, is it GM's fault for using a nonstandard warning light?

Posted by: TIBE4ME at February 21, 2007 09:26 PM

Yes, it's GM's fault. Their cars suck.

Posted by: KarmaBaby at February 21, 2007 09:38 PM

I want to buy a cake from them now, just to have a cake like that. That is hilarious.

Posted by: EricJ2190 at February 21, 2007 10:00 PM

TIBE4ME> "If I fail to notice that my break fluid is low and get into an accident, is it GM's fault for using a nonstandard warning light?"

Uh...yeah, it is, actually. Volvo got sued over their non-standard icons almost thirty years ago because folks who were used to standardized warning lights in American cars had no idea what some of them meant. I don't recall if they actually lost, but they sure did change their lights.

I'm really stymied, though, about how this is supposed to be the fault of the printer. The printer is dutifully printing the text fed to it. These aren't printer codes that the printer is failing to parse but code extensions that don't mean anything to anything but MS software.

Posted by: Erich at February 21, 2007 10:12 PM

The cake's browser wasn't working!!! LOL!

Posted by: goUseIt at February 22, 2007 11:08 AM

Please correct me if I'm wrong with this:

When I said "it is the fault of the printer", I meant the person doing the printing. If the printing is on an automatic cycle with no human interaction, then it is the fault of the person who set up the automated program.

Try opening an email sent with a Microsoft program and clicking the "print" button. Does your document contain empty HTML tags all over it? No. By default, an email program does not print raw HTML code. To do so, you must turn on a "print source code" option somewhere. The person who did the printing must have turned that option on for something and forgot to turn it off again.

I can see another possible explanation for this incident: the computer doing the printing was using a non-Microsoft email program that didn't recognize Microsoft's tags as HTML. In that case, who's fault it it? Microsoft for adding additional capabilities to their program? Or the other email program for not supporting the applications used by the majority of businesses and users?

I'm not saying Microsoft is perfect. I'm not saying they are without problems. I'm just saying that their HTML code not being recognized by another (probably nonstandard) program is not an example of how broken Microsoft is. There may be other examples that do show how broken Microsoft is. This, however, is not one of them.

Posted by: TIBE4ME at February 22, 2007 04:14 PM

This is a test to see if TIB recognizes HTML code.

Posted by: TIBE4ME at February 22, 2007 04:16 PM

Hmm, it seems that TIB didn't understand the HTML code that I used in my pervious post ("not" was supposed to be in bold). I guess HTML is broken.

Posted by: TIBE4ME at February 22, 2007 04:17 PM

>In that case, who's fault it

>it? Microsoft for adding

>additional capabilities to

>their program?

Of course it's Microsoft's fault. Do you realize that there are standards for things like HTML and e-Mail? If Microsoft decides to send crappy, broken data, it's no wonder that the end result is also crappy and broken.

Posted by: LKM at February 23, 2007 04:06 AM

TIB>“I can see another possible explanation for this incident: the computer doing the printing was using a non-Microsoft email program that didn't recognize Microsoft's tags as HTML. In that case, who's fault is it?”

Standards exist for a reason. One of them is to prevent problems exactly like this. Standards also benefit consumers by allowing them more product choices and reducing incompatibility fears. They allow one email product to send mail to any other competing product. They allow HTML to render properly in any browser.

The problem is, competition is the reason why Microsoft views standards as a threat. Adhering to standards sometimes conflicts with Microsoft’s business models. Which is to lock users into their products, and lock competitors out by increasing users’ switching costs. Microsoft does this by taking an established standard (HTML, XML, SQL, Java, you name it), and extending (corrupting?) it just enough so that if you use their proprietary extensions, you become locked into that “enhanced” version of the standard, and also into using Microsoft’s other “companion” products. Then you can’t easily switch to a competitor’s product without rewriting your code and replacing other Microsoft’s components (Web server software, databases, etc).

Some of you techie’s might remember that Microsoft was once sued by Sun Microsystems for adding proprietary extensions to the Java language in an attempt to bastardize and kill the Java standard. Any new systems built with the Java extensions would then only work with Microsoft products, forcing people to buy other Microsoft products, and making the extension the new standard. Nice strategy. Except that Microsoft lost the case and pulled their Java extensions from their products.

Posted by: KarmaBaby at February 23, 2007 04:21 PM

Okay, I see your point.

Adding new functionality is not something I would equate with "corrupting" standards, however. Many standards such as HTML are very old. I can see reasons other than money why Microsoft would want to update them. In that case, perhaps it would be a better idea to give the user a choice to either use the extensions or stick with the old standard?

I agree now that automatically sticking nonstandard code into something (such as an email) is broken. Giving the user the option of using additional extensions can't do any harm, however.

Also, I wouldn't say that Microsoft hates standards. In fact, Microsoft makes standards. They made DirectX, Visual Basic, Windows, Office, and many other standards that are almost universally used today. What Microsoft doesn't like is adhereing to other standards that don't allow them to do what they want to do.

With regards to Microsoft's standards, although they used to totally suck, most (thought not all) of the recent ones are, in my opinion, very good. I think Windows (XP and higher; repeat, XP and higher) is better than Mac OS, and Office 2007 has way more functionality than Open Office (and they seem to have finally gotten the UI right, too). As a programmer with a beginning-level understanding of both C++ and Visual Basic, I prefer Visual Basic. Perhaps this opinion will change when my programming skills become more advanced, but right now, I think Visual Basic is a language that makes much more sense.

I agree that Microsoft has a few problems. I don't like to blame every computer problem on them, however.

Posted by: TIBE4ME at February 23, 2007 06:45 PM

Adding new features to a standard *is* corrupting the standard. If you want new features, there's a process which Microsoft can use to get them in the standard. Microsoft is even part of the standard bodies involved in deciding on HTML.

Posted by: LKM at February 26, 2007 03:03 AM

Oh, and if you think that DirectX, VB, Windows or Office are standards, you quite simply don't understand the meaning of the word "standard." These are not standards, they are just widely used products.

Posted by: LKM at February 26, 2007 03:04 AM

Who wants a slice of HTML'd cake?XD

Posted by: DaL33T at February 26, 2007 05:14 PM

People, people, people. Those are HTML comments. Sure, it's ugly and redundant and slightly peposterous, but it's still valid HTML. This is clearly a broken email client. (although it's pretty broken not to notice that the output is wrong as well!)

Posted by: nevyn at March 3, 2007 02:34 PM

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