801 words on Software
Sometimes (ok, rather frequently to be honest) I do wonder about the possible extent of human stupidity. Of course stupidity in software engineers is well known and can be witnessed daily. My experience with that today was when I bought tickets for the Monsters of Spex festival (with Art Brut, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Infadels, The Pipettes, Editors, Nouvelle Vague, Amusementparks on Fire…).
I had found out all the relevant facts on the web before: like that it’ll be (very slightly) cheaper for me to buy two one day tickets rather than the complete three day ticket when I’ll only be there for two days (unfortunately missing out on the Dresden Dolls). So I knew exactly what I wanted and told it to the guy operating the computer. But due to the brilliant design of the ticketing system – ;a fact that I had already enjoyed on the internet – the whole concept of multi-day events can’t be represented there properly. Particularly when there is the option to get tickets for the whole event and for single days only. The ‘solution’ for that is that they list one ticket type with the correct starting time (17:00) and the other one with the correct starting time plus a minute (17:01) and so on. And due to the sheer brilliance of an application whose only job is to display matching events for some search term, neither the full name of the event (with the single day, multi day information at the end, of course), nor the price for the ticket can be seen in the initial list. Instead each entry has to be clicked and a new confusing screen has to come up to learn the crucial information.
Add to that that the guy operating the computer was – well – a bit on the slow side and even after me having explained to him that I wanted two single day tickets, he first offered me a ‘Thursday ticket’ for 60 Euro or so and a ‘Friday ticket’ for 25 Euro without realising that, well, that ‘Thursday ticket’ was in fact the three day ticket. So something as simple as buying a ticket for which I knew all the details turned out to be much slower and more complicated than it should be.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the fact that I can buy tickets for pretty much any event at a local travel agent. But the software they are using is just the same kind of Windows crap that all businesses run on. And if I’m not mistaken (it really looks this way, but I haven’t read the relevant contracts or anything) the whole ticketing machine is a computer that is separate from all their other computers and connected to the special ticket printer. In particular the very machine which exactly knows how many tickets were sold and how much those cost doesn’t seem to be able to write those informations to a file, so they can get their finances right. As a consequence the poor guy operating the machine has to hand-write a little card for each event they sell a ticket for (and my taste seems to be a bit odd – at least they seem to need to create that card for the event almost every single time get some tickets there). I am not impressed. And while it might risks people’s jobs, I’d quite like a service instead where I can order the ticket on the web and just need to swipe my bank card at a machine to have it print my order for me (thus avoiding the delay and cost of shipping).
But that ticketing software thing was just supposed to be a side-note. Instead I wanted to write about the sign above which exists in every bathroom in the library. And, no, bitching about Arial usage isn’t my main point either. Essentially it tells people to dump the paper towels into the rubbish bag rather than into the toilet which they may block. And of course that’s solid advice. But seeing that the area where you wash your hands is several metres and a door or two away from the next toilet while the large rubbish bags are just beneath the towel dispensers, I do wonder why these signs are there. It’s completely obvious where those towels are supposed to go. And in addition it’s extremely inconvenient to walk all the way to a toilet just to dump them in there.
I am sure they didn’t just put the signs there for the heck of it. So it suggests there were problems with people blocking the toilets with paper towels. That could be stupidity. But I’d rather go for vandalism. Which of course sucks. And which, I suppose, won’t be reduced by those ‘helpful‘ signs.
Zwei Dinge sind unendlich, die Dummheit und das All.
Stupidity/vandalism … or someone ran out of toilet paper.