A few bugs in the system?

I’m guessing GoComics accidentally posted a prelim version of this comic, and then because it was Sunday didn’t replace it. But if anyone wants to fill in some dialogue, feel free!

As I write this (2/20, 11:30am) it still hasn’t been fixed, although the author commented yesterday that GoComics had been contacted. Update: fixed as of 2/21, 5pm.

Oddly enough, it seems that they’ve also retroactively messed up the previous two Sundays (because there are no comments on that one indicating anything is missing, and I remember reading these previously).


  1. Arcamax has been having a similar problem with the Sunday Macanudo strips for several weeks. There’s no way to figure out where the image transfer process is broken, but apparently nobody cares enough to get it fixed.

  2. @Kilby, I don’t see the connection with the Doonsbury strip. What phrase do you mean, and how is it related to this thread?

    Did you post it in the wrong place?

  3. “Bugs in the system” goes way back. There was a report in the late 1870’s about continuing development of Edison’s phonograph, saying that the engineers were working to get the “bugs” out of it. It must have been common jargon among engineers.

    Computers are extremely complex and always have bugs during development. But when Grace Hopper and other engineers were working on the Harvard Mark II computer in the late 1940’s, one of the relays wasn’t working, and an engineer found a dead moth in the relay. Grace Hopper taped it into the log book and wrote “First actual case of bug being found.”

    By the time of the Doonesbury comic, computer folklore was everywhere. Remember “I am a human being. Please do not fold, spindle or mutilate.”? I.e. don’t treat me like you treat an IBM punch card. A joke about an automated aircraft piloting system had the system making its own announcement to the passengers about its perfection: “Nothing can possibly go wrong … (click) go wrong … (click) … go wrong (click) …”

  4. A few weeks back, the Sunday “Dick Tracy” had a similar problem. It was fixed later. In that case the version on Comics Kingdom was all right.

  5. I really enjoyed seeing Grace Hopper speak, when she was doing lecture tours. She filled Mandel Hall, our big auditorium. I don’t actually remember if she told this “real bug” story then (as I’ve read about it several times). I do remember she displayed a ruler which she said was a light-nanosecond she liked to take around with her.

  6. A number of people erroneously believe that Hopper coined the term, but as noted above it was clear that it was the first case she’d seen of an insect causing a bug. She had the corpse taped into her notebook.

  7. @ Brian – Although I really dislike the Comics Kingdom website and its miserly paywall, the only solution that I have been able to find for the Sunday Macanudo strips was to add a CK link to my weekly (but not daily) links.

  8. “Computers are very complex, and always have bugs.” There, fixed that for you. I, also, was privileged to attend a lecture by Grace Hopper. Not only did she have her ruler, but passed out approx. 12” strips of wire so everyone could take their own light-nanosecond home with them.

  9. To avoid the CK paywall, you can use the alternate server that provides comics for newspaper websites. Not only can you read all the strips you want, you can go back arbitrarily far. You will also find some strips that run on GoComics that aren’t normally on the CK site. However, when the new comment system was rolled out, this server didn’t change to it. So if comments are important, you can still read them from the regular CK site.

    Here is the Sally Forth strip for today. Sometimes it works without the “widget” but it is reliable with it.


  10. @ Brian – Thanks for documenting that alternate link (again), but especially for the “widget” tip. It appears that the magnitude of “arbitrarily far” depends on the strip, some work farther back than others. I wasn’t able to find the ancient “Zippy” strip that I have been looking for, but at least I can read the Sunday Macanudo strips in color, without fear of overstepping the capricious paywall limits.

  11. The few spot checks I had made went back a few years, but it was far from exhaustive. I was just surprised when it exceeded the 30-day archive.

  12. This seems to me to be a color separation issue. The black (K) color wasn’t added. In the old days this would a print issue with the black omitted. Now it’s a reproduction issue with the black part omitted somewhere along their production process. I’ve seen it off and on in various strips. The missing dialog was added by someone in the comments section who found it on a different site.

    And don’t get me started on the word “bug”. I’m a computer nerd, the use of the word “bug” for a problem goes way way back before computers.

    Although I worked at the company as Commodore Hopper, alas, I never got to meet her, or get one of her famous “nanoseconds” (a section of wire as long light would travel in a nanosecond about 11.8 inches, which may or may not as far as electricity travels in a nanosecond, it gets complicated).

    I am lucky enough to bridge the print age to the electronic age and know just enough of each to get in plenty of trouble.

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