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Sherlock Holmes is Missing

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I caught sight of myself in the mirror. I was turning Detective. I could see my deerstalker, and wisps of smoke from my pipe. It was at post #13.

The case before me was entitled: "What". What does this mean? What is he trying to say? How can I fill in the missing pieces to help me solve the case. Before me was a garbled paragraph, incomplete sentences, seeming to jump between topics.

I was about to start my investigation. I had some previous posts which were slightly less muddled, a few bits and pieces of code. But gaps. Lots of gaps. My temptation was to print the entire thread. Cut it up, piecing together sentences, mis-placed words, striking-through mis-information. This was a two-pipe case, at least.

What stopped me in my tracks was the statement: "I'm using 'user_id'". Not "I have changed the variable name to.." but "I am using..". Holy pipe-smoke! What you are indicating, but not stating, is that the (limited) code that you have provided is not the code you are using. Have I been wasting my time? Have I been probing for a needle when, all the time, it is sitting at home in a box next to your knitting?

ALWAYS post the exact code that you are currently working with. Don't edit it, or attempt to re-type it from memory. COPY AND PASTE IT. If you are not able to copy and paste it then you have more serious problems than a simple programming error. Once pasted, but before posting, you are welcome to replace passwords, company-names, your PIN-number! You don't have to replace file, folder or server names: what possible use are they to anyone? If you still intend replacing these names, then do so very carefully - don't change anything else.

Back to the plot. I have no ambitions to be a Detective. To modify the simile, I am more like a Judge. Present me with all the facts of the case, in an ordered and accurate manner. No hyperbole, assumptions or interpretation. If I need clarification I will ask it of you, and you will provide it, or risk being in 'Contempt of Court'.

  • Fill in the background for me. What language are you using, what version, what operating system?
  • Tell me what your code should do: What specific input you use and what output you should obtain?
  • Now to the problem. What are the specific circumstances when you run the code? I need to replicate these circumstances. I do not, generally, need to re-create and run your entire application, but I need to have a clear, and accurate, picture in my mind.
  • SHOW ME THE CODE! Not all of it - just relevant code. I'll ask for more if I need it. But, to repeat, THE ACTUAL CODE! Not something that occurred to you while in the bath. Not your vague recollection of the code that is on your computer back at the office.

Andrew's Law:


The accuracy and usefulness of the Answer you receive is in direct proportion to the clarity of your Question.

I am not a Detective, fictional or otherwise. [Well, this is not true. I AM a Detective. But I detect the solution, not the question!]
I do not solve XY Problems, only XX Problems.

2 Comments On This Entry

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laytonsdad Icon

26 June 2013 - 09:35 AM
This is great. This happens more than I would expect. We see posts a lot that are like this. :online2long:

andrewsw Icon

26 June 2013 - 05:34 PM

laytonsdad, on 26 June 2013 - 04:35 PM, said:

This is great. This happens more than I would expect. We see posts a lot that are like this. :online2long:

Thank you laytonsdad.

Yes, twice today I had suspicions that the OP wasn't showing their actual code :censored:. Poorly posed questions are, on the other hand, extremely common.

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