2200: Unreachable State
Title text: ERROR: We've reached an unreachable state. Anything is possible. The limits were in our heads all along. Follow your dreams.
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When writing a computer program, developers often need to make assumptions about what state the system could potentially be in at the time the program is executed. For example, a program designed to fetch data from a database requires that the database be accessible at the time it tries to fetch data; if it is not, then the program needs to know how to handle that state, or it might simply hang or crash the system. A good developer will have accounted for this possibility and may give the program a way to fail gracefully; often, this is done by outputting an error message to the user, to tell them what is wrong.
Sometimes, cautious developers will identify states that, in theory, should never be reachable at all - if they were, it would imply that something has gone fundamentally wrong. A paranoid developer might still decide to handle this case anyway, perhaps including a note that the situation should theoretically never happen, but they aren't confident enough to state with absolute certainty that it cannot.
This comic shows Cueball reading (or possibly writing) just such an error message from a program he is using. The developer has evidently written this text while tired (possibly from overwork), and did not trust themself enough to be sure that the state is truly unreachable. The hopeless tone of the message supports this lack of confidence in their work.
The title text refers to the common trope of a character being given a "magic" item and winning something because of it, then being told that the item was not actually magic and that the magic was inside them all along. It is often used as a fable to tell people to follow their dreams. The title text puts the fable in a place where it doesn't belong, saying that finding the "unreachable state" that is the error code implies that the finder can do anything.
- [Cueball, sitting on an office chair at his desk with his hands over his laptop computer. There is an error message on the screen which is displayed above him with a zigzag line from the screen to the text. The exclamation mark at the top is shown in white on a black triangle.]
- ! Error
- If you're seeing this, the code is in what I thought was an unreachable state.
- I could give you advice for what to do. But honestly, why should you trust me? I clearly screwed this up. I'm writing a message that should never appear, yet I know it will probably appear someday.
- On a deep level, I know I'm not up to this task. I'm so sorry.
- [Caption below the panel:]
- Never write error messages tired.
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