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When all else fails ... uh, you can, too?

After you punch the orange F with a virtual hand, a progress bar appears along with the words "Debugger loading." A blue line slowly begins filling a white box, while a timer underneath estimates that it will take 999,999,999 minutes. But in no more than the time it takes for you to roll your eyes it jumps to 99% complete, and the estimate jumps down to 2 seconds. Naturally, it takes a full minute for those "two seconds" to pass. Then the bar kicks into motion ... sliding backwards of all things. Eventually it does kick forward again, shooting to the end and then beyond the bounds of the white box, zipping somewhere far off screen.

Moments later the whole mess is replaced by the image of some sort of futuristic pub--half Mos Eisley cantina and half Quark's, with a burble of wandering puppets and Ferengi in the background. Gee, wonder where the programmers got their inspiration? A vaguely familiar human bartender leans up against the counter and addresses you. "Welcome to The Progress Bar. Looks like you could use a nice tall glass of debugging. What's your order?"

Confusing. The bartender looks at you expectantly. Apparently he's a quirky metaphor for the computer interface, and you're supposed to tell him what you want to do. Knowing the programmers, it probably only recognizes one word commands.

Ask for help



  • Occurs when you choose "Fail" on Shall We Play A Game? (A.R.F.)
  • The result depends on the word entered.
  • The result is case-insensitive, and presented below in lowercase.
  • Anything after a space is ignored.
  • The result always starts with a heading which is the word selected, with one exception: selecting "20" results in the heading "Bufferoverflow".


Making one of these choices results in a fight:

Word Result
bat, bin, exe, load, run, zip Fight data police or General Protection Fault or Green Horseshoe of Death.
bug, debug, mule, trojan, virus, worm You plug in the debugging data, and are brought directly to the nearest bug.
Fight Anatolian mule or D-bug or Silk Worm.
connect, dial, ftp, http, link, net, phone, port, slashdot, spider, telnet, twitter, web, www You try <command>, hoping to make some kind of connection. Sadly, the connection fails, in a most spectacular and confrontational fashion.
Fight drat cat or no carrier or Spider Crawler.
open Fight Red Ring of Death.


  • Making one of these choices results in a special text, followed by:

After a little more fiddling you get some part of the game working and manage to explore for a little while. You gain X XP.

  • X is between 8*Level and 11*Level, capped at 300.
Word Result
 ?, help, hint, man I'm sorry, but I can't help you. Contact your system administrator. If you are the system administrator, sorry.
20, buffer, overflow Your FLP overflows into your KBUF.

There's nothing like a computer error written in the present tense to make even the most incomprehensible message that much more confounding.

badge We don't need no stinkin' -- ah, fuhgeddaboudit.
beer You're going to have to go on a murderous rampage before I can give you one of those, and you don't look like the sort to go on a murderous rampage.
break, cancel, exit, kill, quit, stop Cancel failed. An unrecoverable error has occurred. Cancel? Okay/Cancel

You look closely at those buttons. Do you want to cancel the cancel in order to continue, or okay the cancel to stop? Or are you canceling the first cancel, in which case okay continues, where canceling the canceled cancel really does cancel it? Argh!

You solve the issue by closing your eyes and hitting a few keys at random, figuring whatever you get from pure chance would be better than choosing it yourself.

clock, cron, sync, time At the beep, the time will be precis—beep!

That's some pretty bad timing, that is.

del, delete, deltree, format, remove, rm Cannot delete file. There is not enough free disk space. Delete one or more files to free disk space, and then try again.



You get a message that says: Proceeding with the operation 'delete' will erase the contents of your hard drive. What do you wish to do? [proceed] [delete]

Wait, what? You quietly hit the reboot key to get away from that trap.

display, heap, stack, try Not enough memory to display this dialog.

Somehow you get the feeling the computer may be lying to you.


Heap overruns stack, retry with more core.

What is this, rock, paper, scissors?

drink That's pretty vague, you know. Why don't you come back when you've got something more specific in mind?
easteregg Calendar subroutine replies: incorrect date. variable 'Easter' != TRUE; No egg for you!
error, grep, log, more, sort Error 0000: No errors found, restarting computer.

Well okay then.


Error #(<Random 6 digits>): There is no message for this error.

Well okay then.

fail Press any key to accept your abject failure.

You press that key, and take what's coming your way.

finger Freddy, is that you?

You can't say you were expecting that response.

gin, rum Sorry, but the cards subroutine is broken. How about a nice drink instead?
minesweeper, solitaire Games directory: access denied. Subroutine blocked. Reason: all play makes Jack a poor coder.

Seems a shame they shut you out, too, since you're the one paying to play the game.

nslookup You look up, up, waaay up. There's a tower. And at the top you see the ns--er, that's naughty sorceress. She's waiting for you. She is your destiny.


nudge, tilt, push, shove TILT

Guess the game machine has sensors to keep you from shoving it around too much. Weird.

nuts, peanuts, popcorn The bartender sets out a bowl of [<word>]. You try to eat some, but the software functionality apparently doesn't support eating. Your real-life self bites your tongue trying to force the VM to recognize chewing motions.
pebcak, user PEBCAK error. Get a new user.

Harsh, man. Harsh.

pop Pop? What's that? Don't you mean "soda"?
mem, memory, ram Error: Not Enough!

After that, there's an OK button. Since there isn't any other option, you figure it must be okay.


The instruction at 0xf[<code1>] referenced memory at 0xf[<code2>]. The memory could not be "read."

Hrmph. Perhaps it could be "read" if someone would get off their "ass" and "fix" this darn program!

shot The bartender looks at you for a moment quizically[sic]. Then he shrugs, pulls out a shotgun from behind the bar, and blasts you back into the real world.
sleep Zzzzz

Yeah, yeah. Figures.

soda Soda? What's that? Don't you mean "pop"?
ssh Quiet, you!
sudo Okay, here's your sandwich.

Nice! Shame it's a digital one.

water The bartender just stares at you for a moment. "Water you talking about?" he finally says.
whisky Sorry, all I've got is whiskey.
whiskey Sorry, got no whiskey. This here is a whisky joint.
xyzzy This ain't Adventure, kid.
Anything Else The computer just asks Sorry? and sits there until you give up.


The computer just asks What? and sits there until you give up.


The computer just asks How? and sits there until you give up.


Making any of these choices gives 65 minutes of an effect:

Word Result
a, a:, any, anykey, eject, floppy, read Non-system disk or disk error

Replace and strike any key when ready

Well, you'd replace the any key, but you can't even find it. There's no way you'll be able to strike it if you can't complete those first steps. Oh, wait, there's a floppy disk in the drive. Of course. You pull out the floppy, at which point the whole system crashes, and you climb out.

You get an effect: Floppy. (Added for 65 minutes.)

attrib,chmod, chown, quota You're a bit shocked at the reply: You don't exist. Go away.

You take the advice, briefly wondering if failure to follow would result in being taunted a second time.

You get an effect: Access Denied. (Added for 65 minutes.)

battery, charge, power, recharge Battery low. Proceeding to batter user.

The battering turns out to be fairly mild, more like a tingle. It recharges you until your power is at the highest point.

You get an effect: Power Point. (Added for 65 minutes.)

bool, boolean, date, decimal, false, int, true Invalid variable type.

Hey! Who does it think it's calling an invalid?

You get an effect: Boolean. (Added for 65 minutes.)

boot, reboot, restart Cannot reboot, because a restart command has already been issued. Please wait for the restart to complete before you reboot.

Man, that doesn't look good.

You get an effect: Rebooting. (Added for 65 minutes.)

c, c:, dir, drive, home, ls, list Drive path not found. Check instructions in your home folder for repair options.

If you can't find the drive path, how are you supposed to get to your home directory? (Presumably there's some trick involving having your pudding when you don't eat your meat.)

You get an effect: Got Drive?. (Added for 65 minutes.)

calc, calculator, math, money, spreadsheet #REF! Formula Error. Invalid calculation range.

You spend something like five minutes trying to figure out that one of the cells in the spreadsheet is pointing one more row to the right than it should be. After that discovery, you're feeling pretty alert and effective.

You get an effect: Excelling. (Added for 65 minutes.)

cd, d, d: The operating system has found an unknown device and is installing a driver for it.

Halfway through it asks you to insert a CD with the proper driver for the unknown device. You try CD after CD, but none of them seem to work. Eventually you can't even say CD or read the word CD without it seeming strange and imaginary. See-D? C-dee? Sea dea?

You get an effect: Seedy. (Added for 65 minutes.)

chkdsk, disk, raid, scsi Raid failed. Error: Preemptive Schulz initilization of Leeroy Jenkins module.

To top that off, a ray of energy shoots out of the digitized darkness and blasts you. Again and again and again. And once more makes five.

You get an effect: Rayed 5. (Added for 65 minutes.)

compile, compute, computer, emacs, vi Error, does not compute. Compile failed.

Must be some bad code in there somewhere. It'd take an all-nighter to fix it.

You get an effect: Code Red. (Added for 65 minutes.)

copy, cp, import, mv, scan Replication with a nonconfigured party not allowed. Copy failed.

Frustratingly, you can see the copy file sitting there in the window, but it won't let you save or do anything but quit. Shame.

You get an effect: Digit-eyes-ed. (Added for 65 minutes.)

ddos, dos, server Initiating DOS ... error, Denial of Service service denied. Reason: don't be evil.

Well, that computer sure showed you.

You get an effect: Served. (Added for 65 minutes.)

distro, linux, redhat, unix Configuration error. Update failed. Critical files missing from /etc/bin/.


You get an effect: Distroed. (Added for 65 minutes.)

download, file, save, upload Secret file download complete. Files downloaded on the down-low. Stored in top secret location.

Great. You have no idea where the top secret location is.

You get an effect: DownLowDed. (Added for 65 minutes.)

dvi, plug, ps/2, vga, usb Connector error. UBS port offline. Try a VCU reroute?

UBS? You've never heard of that one. Nor VCU, for that matter.

You get an effect: Acronym Fever. (Added for 65 minutes.)

echo, ip, nic, ping, tcp, tracert Network failure. Card experiencing limited or no connectivity. Commencing ping test.

Unlike your average network ping, this one is audible. It leaves your ears ringing so badly even people around you can hear the echo of the ping.

You get an effect: Pinging. (Added for 65 minutes.)

key, keyboard, output, print, printer, type Not a typewriter.

Well, you never!


Keyboard not present. Press F1 to continue.

Keyboard? You didn't even know this thing had a keyboard. And how are you going to press F1 if it doesn't exist? You think for a moment and then say, "Eff One." Apparently vocal commands work just fine.

You get an effect: Keyed Up. (Added for 65 minutes.)

megahertz, processor If an undetectable error occurs, the processor continues as if no error had occurred.

Ouch. Talk about making your brain hurt.

You get an effect: Mega Hurts. (Added for 65 minutes.)

offline, report PC Load Letter

Huh? PC Load Letter? What does that even mean?

Clearly the printer is offline again. This makes you furious, and it takes several long minutes of concentration and steady breathing to once again get yourself properly grounded.

You get an effect: Offline. (Added for 65 minutes.)

spell, word you mispeled a keywurd

You spend a little time with the dictionary, increasing your vocabulary.

You get an effect: Word!. (Added for 65 minutes.)

start Oddly enough, you try start, but that leads you to a choice between logging off, shutting down, and rebooting. Who knew?

You punch out of the dialogue, hoping the irony doesn't extend to the escape key putting you in jail or something. What kind of crazy software is this, anyway?

You get an effect: Soft Wear. (Added for 65 minutes.)


Making any of these choices has a special effect:

Word Result
clean, clear, defrag, degauss, frag, reset, wipe A wild-eyed man runs up from one side of the bar, his glasses slightly askew and his curly hair a few steps beyond tousled. He appears to be panting slightly. "Did you say '<word>'? I am the DiskKeeper, are you the MasterKey?"

"Uh, no," you reply. You say this not because honesty is the best policy, but because the best policy generally involves absolute denial of everything.

The man looks disappointed. "Oh, well, if you see her, would you give her this?" and hands you a small metal device like a magnet with wire wrapped around it. He sniffs the air and shuffles off, snuffling to himself.

You got an item: degausser Degausser.gif

float If you have Boot Rear brand root beer in your inventory:

Verifying ... root beer found. Converting to float.

The machine grabs a can of your root beer before you can object, and converts it into a root beer float. Nifty! But it makes you wonder what variable type the original root beer must have been.

You got an item: root beer float Stein-potion.gif

If you don't:

Invalid variable type.

Hey! Who does it think it's calling an invalid?

You get an effect: Boolean. (Added for 65 minutes.)


  • The image and description refer to progress bar.
  • The Mos Eisley Cantina is a fictional bar in the Star Wars universe.
  • Quark is a Ferengi bar owner on Deep Space Nine.
  • The text on "defrag" refers to the defragmenter diskeeper. The man refers to "The Gatekeeper" and "The Keymaster" from the movie Ghostbusters.
  • The result for "badge" refers to a famous quote from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. "I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!" This line is often rendered as "We don't need no stinkin' badges!"
  • The result for "beer" refers to the "Treehouse of Horror V" episode of The Simpsons. In "The Shinning" sketch (a parody of The Shining), Moe refuses to serve any beer until Homer goes on a murderous rampage.
  • The result for "finger" refers to the movie Freddy Got Fingered.
  • "ssh" refers to unix Secure Shell.
  • The result for "minesweeper" or "solitaire" refer to the proverb "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."
  • chkdsk is the DOS file system integrity check program, supposedly in this case done on a RAID 5 disk array. The response relates to a gaming raid. It mentions Ben Schultz's Leeroy Jenkins, a famous raid failure.
  • The message resulting from the sudo command references an xkcd comic about the unix command sudo.
  • The message for "Got Drive?" refers to the song "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)", specifically the line "How can you have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat?!"
  • The result for "spreadsheet" refers to Microsoft Excel, a spreadsheet program by Microsoft.
  • xyzzy is a magic word from the Colossal Cave Adventure computer game.
  • The text for Access Denied is a quote from the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail where a French soldier tells Sir Galahad "go away or I shall taunt you a second time".
  • ping is a utility that uses echo requests to determine network connectivity.
  • The text for "start" refers to the Microsoft Windows operating systems Start menu which leads to the mentioned choices.
  • int, float and boolean are the names of data-types used in several computer languages.
  • PEBCAK is an acronym for "Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair".
  • "Keyboard not present. Press F1 to continue." is an actual BIOS error.
  • The "DOS" under the Served effect refers to Denial-of-service attack, or DoS, using the same initials as Disk Operating System, or DOS.
  • "Don't be evil" is an informal corporate motto of Google.
  • PC LOAD LETTER is a well known technology meme, a reference to a confusing or inappropriate error message.
  • Not a typewriter is an error code found in many Unix systems.
  • The text for "gin" and "rum" is based on the fact that gin and rum are spirits, but together they are also a card game.
  • The "game directory" text applies to Minesweeper and Solitaire, which are included in most versions of Microsoft Windows.
  • The result for "nslookup" refers to the Naughty Sorceress, one of the bosses in Kingdom of Loathing.