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Humour@SAP: VII. High Noon or The Battle Mouse

Sergio Leone revolutionized the genre of western-movies. Not only did he relocate the wild, wild west in some movies to Italy, he also used close ups and shots that built up their tension through inaction. The bandits waiting in the sun, drops of sweat moving slowly down the forehead, a fly disturbing the tense silence and harmonica music stomping on the nerves.

Haha, you say, Sergio Leone is this much of a rookie. SAP-westerns in the modern times beat him easily. Today, we don’t need to go to the movies to get the heartbeat up. We just have to sit – let’s say – in Madrid, logon to an SAP system in the US and then we build up tension through inaction – waiting for the system coming back. The system cleverly walks on our nerves, it provokingly displays the hour glass and when we already think it is time to learn Japanese, wash the car, get some coffee, fill out the tax return – the system comes back unexpectedly, promises a bright future – and – and – and? We get an error-message — in German. That brings up the tension, that let’s the blood rush and the nerves crack. Strong men were seen breaking out in tears, women stopped to chat – so unbelievably huge was the impact.

The only thing that beats this is the knowledge that the world could be better, if the SAP implementation project were better organized internally, if more time were available for the project, if less modification and customization wishes from the business experts were requested, if we only had bought those faster servers, and if those consultants were not asking for so many bags of gold and pearls.

That’s why in Fort Walldorf an army of SAP support cavalry helps to bring the bandits to justice, tame the systems and rescue the poor operators, administrators and users from all the adversity, so that Sergio Leone must feel nowadays like a cowboy with a watergun on a pink pony.

The Online Support System (OSS), in which customers and partners report their adventures, is full of such tales. How does such an SAP adventure start? Normally quite harmless: flowers are blossoming, birds are breeding in their nests, squirrels digging some nuts, snakes breaking the bird eggs, dipping in the eggs some squirrel-legs and using the flowers as tooth-picks. Into this peaceful picture rides Sven Henry S., the fastest mouse-clicker of the western hemisphere.


Question from July 7th 2000, 01:12:14 Sven Henry S.

Hello all,

We have the following problem: after an upgrade from 3.1G to 4.6C we cannot delete the records for the handling units anymore.

Can you help us?
Thank you very much in advance…

Sven Henry S.

Response from July 7th 2000, 02:13:50 Petra S.

Dear Mr. S.,

Please send us the text of the error message and the five digit error code.

Also describe exactly your actions with the relevant transaction codes.

Yours sincerely,

Petra S.
SAP Support

Response from July 7th 2000, 03:53:12 Sven Henry S.

Hello Mrs S.,

then let’s start:

In transaction VA32 I select tab strip “Handling unit”. With the button “Select all” I select all the handling units. Now I click on the button “Delete handling units”. A popup appears, which tries to fathom out with a depth psychological examination, if I really want to delete the selected handling units. I vigorously agree. But I didn’t expect the cattiness of the system. It counters this cleverly with an error popup. The error message says “Function not executable – please contact system administrator”. But I do not surrender. By clicking on the question mark I elicit the following error-number from the system: “HUGENERAL 099”. Ah! that’s what I thought – I have no idea what this message means. And by the way, my system administrator doesn’t know that either. Neatly, I escape this threatening situation by hitting with a fast reaction the ENTER-key. But this I have to do for every handling unit that I selected.

After I escape unharmed the first error, the next challenge awaits me. Fearing no death I enter the tab strip “Pack handling units”. By overcoming my primal fears I first click the button “Select all”. While I watch the system selecting them all, I become jaunty. Resisting all dangers I click with my Smith-and-Wesson-mouse caliber 357 Magnum the button “Delete handling units”. And again appears in front of my face a Freudian question popup in order to doubtfully challenge my decision. This action somehow reminds me of my wife (…are you sure?…does it have to be this way?). My mouse click sounds already much harsher while I click “Yes”. For five seconds I gaze at the screen, prepared for everything. And here – déjà vu – I know this situation. It’s popping up again…ups, and also with an error message!! The error message says “Function not executable – please contact system administrator”. And the attentive reader already guesses – the error number is again “HUGENERAL 099”. Shall this mystical number command my life from now on? I do not accept this and blow the popup away by activating my Meson-blaster (ENTER-key) as often as the number of selected handling units. In the mean time the strain and stress leaves the first traces on my plentiful forehead.

But as already Otto Waalkes (a German comedian) said – “I still have another one!”. With a freezing and attesting look I activate the tabstrip “All content”. The next screen displays its content absolutely harmless. But I don’t let myself be fooled. To be safe I activate the automatic target selection of my Heckler&Koch battle mouse. By faking an attack on the right upper corner I suddenly press with a surprising turn the button on the left bottom “Select all”. Completely taken by surprise the system executes my command and selects all handling units. Did the system accept me finally as the alpha male? With suppressed optimism I click the button “Delete handling units”. And again appears this whiny popup (“Do you really want to…?”). “Yeeeeeeeeeees!!!”…

A question in between: does the popup in the software-version for the public sector really appear 3x (once as original, twice as carbon copy?).

…but the show continues. I confirm my action with a clearly audible “Yes, I do”. And somehow it looks as if I hunted the system to its exhaustion. No error popup, but only an error message in the message line. But this one is quite cruel. It says: “E: handling unit 900156 contains undeletable items”. With a diligent series of well aimed double clicks I force the system to reveil the error number “HUFUNCTIONS 002”. Checkmate. I can only draw back by clicking repeatedly on the back button.

Mrs. S, I hope by narrating the behavior of the system, this helps you to understand the problem.

With the best wishes,

Sven Henry S.


An expedition force of SAP cavalry was sent out, and with the construction plans of the evil system the devilish turned handling units were tamed. The field was covered with burnt out battle mice and torn popups.
Only Sven Henry S. stood grinning in the dust, blew the smoke from his battle mouse and loaded it with new clicks. Now he was ready for the next adventure: creating a handling unit! But this story is told in another OSS message…

More anecdotes can be found in the Humour@SAP weblog series.

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  • Hi Mario,

    This was the best one so far and a great start into this week.

    What do they say: Monday morning 9.28 and the week seems to go on forever 🙂

    Keep it up, Mark.

  • Hi Mario,

    I happened to come across one of your posts (the word “Humour” caught my eye …. Humour@SAP: VIII. Saving SAP’s internal gossip forum from work-related topics ) n guess what… i ended up reading all of your posts in one go … just simply loved them all …

    Well, my collegues were asking me “hey Shabz, what happened its such a gloomy monday (monday blues u know 🙁 ) and you been reading weblogs all day …. hmmmm …. techno savvy u really are …. hey take sometime out and get urself a coffee  ”  ….. LUCKY they didnt know what i was reading, must have thought i was quenching my thirst for knowledge early morning itself 😉 !!!!

    do keep posting …..