Four decades later, the same bugs keep popping up

Retired programmer pilot fish gets an email from his doctor's office offering a way to save time at his next appointment: Fill in a form online to speed up the check-in process.

And fish likes the idea.

"I'm now 75 years old, and my handwriting suffers quite a lot from age and illness," he says. "I clicked on the link and entered the required data in all the applicable fields. But when I clicked the 'Submit' button, I got an error message that said there was invalid data in a field."

OK, fish thinks, maybe I hit a wrong key. He goes over the form and doesn't see any problems, but he re-enters some data just in case.

Result: the same error message—with no indication of which field contains bad data.

Time for a second opinion, fish thinks. He calls in his wife, a retired teacher who's five years younger than he is. She looks over the form and says everything looks right to her.

Then she asks a question: "Was anything already filled in before you began work on the form?"

Sure enough, two fields at the top of the form are prefilled with fish's first and last names—and because fish has the same name as his father, his name also includes "Junior" at the end.

"So the two fields looked like this: [FIRSTNAME] [LASTNAME, JR ], with a comma in the second field. That comma was what the form was rejecting," sighs fish.

"The only way to fix the data such that the form would be accepted was for me to become my father."

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