It's Broken and No One Cares
Thursday, October 13, 2011 2:27:27 PM
The editor and wife dropped by 3D yesterday to get one of those "Don't Park Here on This Date" thingies as we had some folks coming over to do work in the house and they needed to park sort of in the front. Usually, it's like getting a parking permit for a visitor. You walk up, show some ID, sign something and the police person puts something in a log book and you're done.
Someone downtown decided that was too simple and needed complicating.
Yesterday we had to go to "kiosk" (actually a PC sitting in a hallway) and do it the modern way. The editor tried, and after 20 minutes of entering all sorts of personal information including the race/ethnic thing, found out that he must have dropped a letter in his "userid" or password from what he thought he had entered. At home or office, one just goes back and tries again. Here, the wife took over and tried. Got all the way through. Then went to the counter and asked how she paid for it. Answer: The machine asks for it. She hadn't seen it. The police on duty had no idea where one does that in the software. No permit. Wasted hour.
In chatting with the folks in the station it was clear that the editor and wife had a lot of company and the police had a lot of complaints and could do nothing. The editor wonders if this is an MPD thing or from somewhere else in our dear government. If so, the editor would lay odds DCRA.
The editor was not impressed with the user interface. Elementary at best. That's a nice way of saying that they didn't spend a whole lot of money on developing the system. Quirky, too. It's a little thing but the "delete" key on the numeric pad (with NumLock obviously turned off) didn't work. That is, it normally deletes the next character in a string. This software just throws away that keystroke. The editor tried the "delete" key just to the right of the "Enter" key didn't work either. The editor had to move the cursor on past the character to be deleted and backspace.
The editor does understand that one may want to mask out (disregard) certain characters in some edit windows, such as "$" in personal names. And he understands how on first try, "delete" might be in the disregard category by mistake. If that system gets to the field with that boo-boo still in the system, some serious incompetence is being advertised. It seems as if beta-testing is an unknown concept for someone.
The whole rigmarole of logging in and doing the userid and password thing seems like overkill. Most sites have the registration thing for regular users. For example, a supplier of laptop batteries will have such for businesses or individuals who buy a lot of batteries. Then they can enter the card number and other private items once, and skip to purchasing more quickly. But for one time users, or once every few years users, that usually have a way of getting bill-to and ship-to informations, and payment stuff on a one-time basis. It's faster than registering.
Maybe the editor and wife have seen the future of DC government, and failed to register properly.