Shamanic way to deal with errors

IT bugs debugging errors

aidas | March 20, 2023

Disclaimer: due to my limited English vocabulary I used the word “shaman” as a metaphor only. The usage of “shaman” in this article has nothing to do with the true meaning of the word.

Unless you have some masochistic tendencies, I bet you hate errors the same as I do. No fun is fun under the buggy Sun, right? And solving them might be like beating one’s head against the wall. From my experience, things might get clearer when we compare them to one of those warm late spring days: you’re walking in a blooming park, laughing with your friends and bursting with the joyful energy enriched by the Sun, when suddenly you step into… (for the lack of a better word) …shaman.

Occasional shaman

  1. Don’t freak out. I know it sounds silly, but the first step is to stay calm. When you step into shaman, you don’t want anybody to notice. So when seeing an error, don't freak out and rationally evaluate what happened.
  2. Make sure it’s an error. Just like after stepping into shaman we double-check that it really happened, we should also confirm that the error (i.e. unintended behaviour) is present and it’s not the usual flow of the program. However, a single confirmation is enough - we don’t have to constantly check and curse that shaman is there - it’s not going to disappear by itself. Unless…
  3. …it’s an error, which is non-repetitive. Just like shamans are changing their places unpredictably, some errors are one-time glitches which may disappear after simply retrying the same action.
  4. Restart the system.

    Good old rain refreshes the day,
    As little shamans get drifted away.
    (author unknown)

    Sometimes it happens that the program or the internet, or simply your computer gets tired. Restart it. Restart the program, router, computer or whatever isn’t working. You won’t believe how many times this solves the issue without further investigation.
  5. Check if a newer version of the program is available. Sometimes simply upgrading your device will do it.
  6. If a program is freshly installed and doesn’t work as expected, you may try reinstalling it. It might be that during the installation process something went wrong.
  7. On the other hand, if the program/app/OS is on your machine for a long time and/or has lots of stuff installed, you may also want to reinstall it or at least remove old, unused stuff. Likewise, if shaman is laying there for days and you’re constantly stepping into it, the simplest solution might be to simply remove it.
  8. Warning note: unless you have an ancient soviet machine, the old way of fixing, i.e. punching and kicking most probably won’t work. I won’t even mention what would happen with a shaman if you…
  9. Perform a complete scan for viruses & other malware. Maybe somebody’s putting the shamans there intentionally?

Investigating shaman

Before going further, I want to notice that it’s important to understand that when trying to fix the issue, it’s crucial to understand the actions you’re performing. Otherwise you may end up more in shaman than you began with.

  1. Read the error message. There is nothing fancy in it - simply read the ASCII of láthos even if it sounds like !ň$@ńįß - we wanna know what we’re dealing with.
  2. Okay okay, you don’t always have to actually understand the type of shaman and all its nuances to get rid of it. A simple googling might do it. After all, you may not be the first one nor the last one stepping into it - other people also may have encountered this problem. And it’s quite probable that they found a solution, which could also work for you.
  3. If you can’t find an instant, easy solution, an in-depth understanding of the shaman may help. First, try to identify and formulate the exact problem: what’s not working, when is it not working, under which circumstances, which exact actions are causing the error. The more precisely you can describe the issue and the better you can identify the place where it appears (narrow down the scope), the easier it may be to locate the problem and to solve it. Also previous actions might have influenced the error, for example, maybe the computer started having issues after that new program you installed lately? Remembering previously performed actions might be very beneficial.
  4. If all previous steps failed, now it’s the time to ask for some help. I know it’s not easy to admit it in public, but it is what it is. Maybe writing in a forum or some social network group might help. The difference from googling/ducking it is that your particular case might be too specific or need a bit different solutions than other cases. And a computer expert or enthusiast might know the solution or have great insights in solving it. Some great communities: stackoverflow, reddit, quora.
  5. User/Customer support: you could also contact the maintainers of the program you’re using and ask them. I mean, if you constantly see shamans produced by the same person, you may want to contact them and work on a solution.

Shamanic prevention

Just like we’re looking at where we’re stepping our feet and are careful that the birds aren’t flying right above our heads, we should also:

  1. Have an anti-shaman detector (a.k.a. antivirus/antimalware program).
  2. Being careful which programs we’re downloading and from where. You don’t instantly open a package at the door when somebody rings and runs, right?
  3. Not visiting untrusted web pages or downloading untrustable files.
  4. Open only emails you 100% trust.
  5. Have backups for information you don’t want to lose. The more important the information is, the more serious backups should be taken. Like having some extras when going on a date.
  6. Regularly run hardware checks. This could indicate problems before they start causing disruptions, sniff sniff…
  7. Clean your machine from dust. As they say, in a clean body lives a clean soul.

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