Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Computer Crap

615 words

Just had yet another accumulation of crappy software make my life harder. All I wanted to do is book a train ticket to Bremen for Monday – along with a seat reservation [which I usually hate as it is a complete rip-off – but trains can be very full at this time of the year.]

First I had to brave my way through endless forms for signing up &c – complete with mandatory >8 character user names and passwords. I have never had an 8 letter username. As if that hadn't been bad enough, to add injury to insult my reservation has been made for a smoking coach despite me having explicitly requested non-smoking. Isn't this one of the rare occasions where fat red letters and perhaps even blink-tags warning you of that change would be well placed? Did they really expect me to read the page full of trivial information in detail just to see that difference myself? Particularly after they've forced me through an endless click-OK-athon?

This highlights a couple of things: While I assume that the information about not being able to satisfy my request precisely has been on screen at some time, it was buried within other, non-important, information such as my address and my credit card information, which, to me, are non-essential to the whole transaction. My impression is that many sites are designed with the 'business model' in mind, ignoring what the user needs. This leads to frustration. In addition, I can't really learn where things went wrong and where I'll have to pay extra attention the next time around because after a decade of development, web browsers are still too stupid to let you review the pages they displayed before. But hey, we can have Flash animations and marquees!

But wait, the ordeal isn't over yet. Next I had to print my ticket. As the whole point of this exercise was not having to leave home, scramble through the overcrowded town and be annoyed by that, I wanted to use Björn's printer, shared on a Windows computer. We had done this before, but now his computer has a new name and OS X.3 has better Windows support, so I had to re-setup things.

The beginning was promising: I could actually see the computer and printer in PrintCenter. The next step was of course that it didn't print. Perhaps this was because the printer (HP LaserJet 1100) was identified as a PostScript printer at first? No idea, anyway I found the printer in the list of available printers (probably thanks to some third party software that I had installed back then) which didn't help. I got the error message Unable to connect to SAMBA host, will retry in 60 seconds... ERROR: Connection failed with error NT_STATUS_ACC..... Yeah, whatever. I can connect to the computer, it's just buggy software again.

I tried to sort things out through the local CUPS setup web pages, by giving the IP address of the computer explicitly – without success. While doing that cupsd seems to have crashes a couple of times and CUPS seems to crap itself when you do something as naming a printer with non-ASCII characters, 'Björn', say...

And while I am annoyed by software, let me add that window management in OS X still sucks. Like when applications are launching and simply place their windows in front of the application you're currently working in. Or when printing progress windows are much more stubborn than they should be after switching the application that prints to the background. Or applications being allowed to make themselves the frontmost application while you've got a menu open and that menu closing. Lots of annoyances.

December 20, 2003, 15:07


Comment by hi: User icon

what do u mean computers stink?!?!? They are the best thing in my house!!!!!

November 8, 2005, 23:35

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