Good news, the ribbon programmer connector I designed works fine, not sure where the problem was with the first one, all connections looked OK, I traced all, soldering OK, no heat shrink breaks. My educated guess would be, the actual connector on that is defective, where the female pressure leads do not make correct contact with the male leads. That's a new one, I guess at such scale and my manual work with the small parts introduces a mechanical error. That's actually very good to know as the design is sound, but I might have to choose a less-error prone method for programing, pogo pins comes to mind. To do list later.