With that orientation the two pins soldered together would be the 3rd and 4th pin in from the bottom right is this a mistake or correct from the factory?
Those are both ground pins, so having them shorted is just fine.
As for the error message you're getting, the only time I get those is when I don't have a proper connection to the device, from the cable. So make sure you have the proper pins broken out, you need, in order:
DTR connected through a 0.1uF capacitor to RESET, TX (this is the device's TX!), RX (this is the device's RX!), VCC (5V), and the remaining two pins are both grounded.
If you don't have the capacitor on the DTR line, it will never reset the device. If for any reason you have a bad connection on the rest, well, weird things happen.