My son is being encouraged to lie.
It's a fairly regular occurrence around here, and I'm sure you've seen it yourself. It's that checkbox on the website you're visiting where you say "Yes, I am over X years of age".
Something that has been annoying me recently with my bank has been that their website tells me that they will never ask for my password over the phone. And then their call centre asks me for my password. Over the phone. Of course the call centre doesn't mean my website password - they mean the special 'ultra-secure 5ekr1t code phrase', but they don't have a good, universally understood word to use for that. Hopefully they'll work one out, but they appear to have got the message anyway.
This got me to thinking about how these phrases are used, and how insecure they are in reality. After all when I store a website password I go to significant lengths to ensure that the same password is not represented by the same string of characters in my database. How vulnerable are our secrets in the databases of organisations we do business with?
What are fruit companies trying to achieve by putting stickers on their fruit? I remember as a child when these first appeared on oranges and bananas, and I can cope with this because in these cases the sticker disappears without any inconvenience to the consumer when the skin is discarded.
I have just received the most bizarre share purchase offer I've ever seen. It seems some weirdo company called Colonial Capital Corporation wants to pay about 60% of the market rate to buy my shares in Tower Australia Group.
I only have these few shares because of some insurance policy I used to have, and probably I should have sold them years ago, but to be offered 60% market value seems pretty insulting. I wonder how many suckers will be fooled?
Good to see that Wikipedia has a pretty thorough write-up on the guy. Maybe someone has some pictures of him that they could upload there as well, so we can recognise him in the street. The Melbourne Age can help out a little on that point, as can the Sydney Morning Herald though he always wears sunglasses, it seems.
The registered office of the Colonial Capital Corporation (NZ Company no. 1891726) is "Andrew James Kennedy, Level 2, 6 Clayton Street, Newmarket, Auckland". I guess if you know that person you should make sure they are aware of the kind of amoral shyster they are fronting. It seems that particular location is a "virtual office" that you can rent for only $120/month from the "Auckland Business Centre Limited", Ph. 09 522 7130. I wonder if Mr. Kennedy takes phone calls, and what company name he gives when he answers?
A previously infamous company also with David Tweed as sole director is National Exchange Ltd (NZ Company no. 1559669). The office for that one was at Suite 102, 63 Remuera Road. No name associated with that, but the constitution is pretty much a license to ensure any funds get offshore as quickly as possible, and a Google search suggests that the address generally has some very dodgy businesses associated with it.
Do we really need another UI?
In order to have Pizza tonight, it seems I have to deal with the Pizza UI. Again. I wouldn't mind so much if it worked, but tonight it doesn't. I could put up with (stupid) little daemons wandering around my screen for a short while in order to be able to buy some food. It's OK that I've seen it many many times before, and it's really not that difficult to deal with the same stale annoyances.
Well, of course, on some occasions I've had to do it using a web browser running on another computer. Then all those bats whizzing (well, f-l-i-c-k-e-r-i-n-g, on those occasions actually) really do start to give me a 'bad user experience'.
The reason I've had to use a web browser on another computer is because the Pizza UI is written using what is effectively a proprietary application, and the program which they force me to use to access the site is not tested for all of it's operating environments - most especially that software combination of my computer and that hellish website which also coincidentally has shockingly bad accessibility.
When marketing is more important than product
When I first started to experience problems with the Pizza UI about six months ago, I sent them an e-mail telling them that Macromedia® Flashtm crashes whenever I browse their website. They quickly ascertained that this only happens for some percentage of those people using Linux. They then proceeded to wonder if it might just be easier for all Linux users to be directed to the PDF menu, so that they could phone their order. I don't know if they were serious or not but if they were then I guess they are more wedded to the annoying features of their website than they are to it's ability to allow customers to purchase Pizza. You kind of have to wonder where a business that thinks that way is going, don't you?
And anyway, is a crashed browser important?
Can't you cope? Well, no. I usually have around 20-50 web pages open at any one time, which can be quite annoying. Heather would typically have around 150-200 pages open, so when she has to restart her web browser after an attempt to visit the Pizza UI I would not be suprised to find they could hear the screams down at the local franchise. Although I am clearly in a minority with this particular problem there is not a single computer of the seven in this house that can successfully work around it.
But wait! There's worse!
Of course that's not the only sucky website that I can use for ordering Pizza. It seems that if I want to order Pizza over the in-tar-web I don't have a choice but to use Macromedia® Flashtm. Normally I prefer not to install this because it is the application of choice to run advertising content, so why would I want to? In the course of a normal day, it seems that the only time I need Macromedia® Flashtm installed is to run advertisements, or to order Pizza.
In fact the crappy Pizza Hut website sucks even more than the annoying Hell Pizza website sucks. At least with the Pizza UI in hell it is only really the designed in annoyances that annoy. The Pizza UI at Pizza Hut has decreed that when pressing the <TAB> key you will be transported to a random field - a particularly exciting trip when you are moving from (e.g.) the credit card number field to the credit card expiry field. Not that I can actually get to the credit card fields on a regular basis. Restaurant Brands New Zealand Limited seem to have some pretty crappy kind of back end for their operation, because the normal response to an attempt to log on to their Pizza UI is the useful and informative message that "There is a problem with the server please try again later". Right, of course I'll do that, won't I?
Use the Damn Phone, Stoopid!
People ask me why I care? Why don't I just download the (damn) PDF and use the (damn) telephone to order a Pizza. In fact my son asked me that tonight because he was getting as frustrated with me as I was with these (damned stupid) braindead websites. I think he might have been hungry as well,and I suppose that my own evening rant might be fuelled by low blood sugar too.
Strange as it may seem, Pizza-ordering in my house involves being repeatedly yelled at with orders until you can acknowledge each one with the fact that their dinner will be here in 40 minutes. This is not a nice experience when you are trying to speak politely to a harrassed and underpaid person in a noisy environment at the other end of the phone. That way lies madness! As a theoretical alternative, a web-based "shopping cart" site such as I use for ordering computers or buying CDs seems like a (potential) breath of fresh air. Those sites work for me because they have chosen standard technology over battiness. Strangely, I actually find them easier to use because they didn't care to invent a computer ordering UI or a CD purchasing UI. There's no need: after a lot of refinement of these models over the last few years we've all agreed on something that actually provides a fairly straightforward path from consumer to purchase, without any stupid fucking bats getting in the way.
Never attribute to stupidity, that which could be blamed on a conspiracy
So, of course, it must be a conspiracy. Some of my favourite conspiracy candidates would be:
- Pizza delivery companies are actually run by phone companies, and will still use the PSTN even when everyone else is VoIP, so you will still need a Real Phonetm to order Pizza.
- The website is designed to discourage Pizza ordering, because they are worried that they couldn't keep up with the demand if everyone logged on at 6:00pm to order a Pizza.
- Pizza companies get marketing websites built to give people the idea that a Pizza would be really nice, and one day you'll be able to order them over the internet, but they're waiting for smell-o-vision and figure it will be implemented in Macromedia® Flashtm first.
- Pizza delivery companies are actually owned by advertising companies, in order to ensure that Macromedia® Flashtm is installed even on the PCs of hardened Linux geeks like myself.
I think I like the last one the most. Conspiracies always seem best, somehow, when they actively persecute minority groups that include yourself.
Right. Now that I've got that six months of annoyance off my chest it's time to complain that my Pizza, which I eventually ordered over the phone after crashing my wife's web browser and three different web browsers on my own computer, arrived 10 minutes late.