Saturday, May 14, 2016

Microsoft Hates My Name (Not Me, Just My Name)

In order to debug nanomsg problems on Windows, I recently installed a copy of Windows 8.1 in a VMWare guest VM, along with Visual Studio 14 and CMake 3.5.2.  (Yes, I've entered a special plane of Hell, reserved for just for people who try to maintain cross-platform open source software.  I think this one might be the tenth plane, that Dante skipped because it was just too damned horrible.)

Every time I tried to build, I got bizarre errors from the CMake / build process ... like this:

Cannot evaluate the item metadata "%(FullPath)

Turns out that when I created my account, using the "easy" installation in VMWare, it created my Windows account using my full name.  "Garrett D'Amore".  Turns out that the software is buggy, and can't cope with the apostrophe in my full name, when it appears in a filesystem path. 

Moving the project directory to C:\Projects\nanomsg solved the problem.

Really Microsoft?  This is 2016.  I expected programs to struggle and for me to find bugs in programs (often root exploits  -- all hackers should try using punctuation in their login and personal names) with the apostrophe in my name back in the 1990s.  Not in this decade.

Not only that, but the error message was so incredibly cryptic that it took a Google search to figure out that it was a problem with the path.  (Other people encountered this problem with paths > 260 characters.  I knew that wasn't my problem, but I hypothesized, and proved, that it was my name.)  I have no idea how to file a bug on Visual Studio to Microsoft.  I'm not a paying user of it, so maybe I shouldn't complain, and I really have no recourse.  Still, they need to fix this.

Normally, I'd never intentionally create a path with an apostrophe in it, but in this case I was being lazy and just accepted some defaults.  I staunchly refuse to change my name because some software is too stupid to cope with it -- this is a pet peeve for me. 

We're in the new millennium, and have been for a decade and half.  Large numbers of folks with heritage from countries like Italy, France, and Ireland have this character in their surname.  (And more recently -- since like the 1960s! -- the African-American community has been using this character in their first names too!)  If your software can't accommodate this common character in names, then it's broken, and you need to fix it.  There are literally millions of us that are angered by this sort of brokenness every day; do us all a favor and make your software just a little less rage inducing by letting us use the names we were born with please.