BlathrWayne Lorentz

Showing blathrs with the tag “Fail.”

Friday, November 25th, 2022 Alive 18,840 days

It's called a “tech stack” because of how easily it falls over.

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Whatʼs a DVD?

Tuesday, November 15th, 2022 Alive 18,830 days

An error message on the Netflix web site

Netflix is one of the largest media companies on the planet. If it canʼt keep its web site from eating itself, what chance do I have?

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Better late than never

Tuesday, November 15th, 2022 Alive 18,830 days

A late notification from the Constellation Apartments in Las Vegas, Nevada

I just received a notice from Constellation Apartments that my service request has been completed.

It's worth noting that I haven't lived at Constellation for 16 months.

I wonder what took them so long to fix.

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Itʼs the only way to be sure

Thursday, November 3rd, 2022 Alive 18,818 days

A screenshot of macOS offering an upgrade to macOS 13/Ventura

Upgrading macOS on a headless Mac is an iffy proposition. The last time I did this, I ended up nuking the whole machine and restoring from a backup.

If it works, Iʼll go across the street and buy a lottery ticket.

30 minutes later…

The macOS installer locked up before even starting.
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Hold my place

Friday, October 28th, 2022 Alive 18,812 days

iPadOS 16 canʼt find an icon

iPadOS 16 may not be quite ready for prime time. At least not the part of it that only shows an icon placeholder graphic when you try to do math with it.

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Try a Clié

Thursday, October 27th, 2022 Alive 18,811 days

The University of Houston/Downtown web site

I know that Iʼm not perfect. I know that while I think my web sites work on every device, thereʼs probably a configuration out there on which they fall over. But the University of Houston/Downtown really has no excuse for this.

How is it possible for an organization to put out a public web site in 2022 that doesnʼt work on mobile phones? Itʼs bad enough that this page from UH/D is cut off on the right side, but there is no way to even scroll to the right to see whatʼs missing! And this is on a recent iPhone, not some obscure open source homebrew kit.

I preview every single web page I build for desktop, tablet, and two mobile phones. Every one. Sometimes dozens each week.

The University of Houston/Downtown brags that itʼs the second-largest university in Americaʼs fourth-largest city. Surely, someone on campus must have a smart phone to test with.

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How about “An unknown error occurred?”

Wednesday, October 26th, 2022 Alive 18,810 days

iOS gives an inscrutable error message

Thanks, iOS 16. Can you be a little more vague?

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Just call

Tuesday, October 25th, 2022 Alive 18,809 days

Conflicting information from Apple Maps

The Marberger Farm Antique Show is permanently closed, according to Apple Maps. Itʼs also open for business, according to Apple Maps.

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The ants got it

Tuesday, October 25th, 2022 Alive 18,809 days

macOS Software Update showing the emergency backup operating system icon

When something goes wrong and macOS canʼt find the correct icon for an operating system update, it uses a paper plate with “mac OS” written on it.

Now you know.

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Koop your money

Monday, October 17th, 2022 Alive 18,801 days

Amazon Music playing the wrong song

Another day, another technology that fails to live up to its billing. This is a familiar one: Amazon.com, and its Amazon Music service.

Today I tried to play the album Koop Islands by the band Koop. Except that I canʼt.

Whenever I press the play button on one of the album's songs, Amazon Music plays something other than the song I requested.

I clicked on Koopʼs song Come to Me and it played the song In the Morning by Natural Self.

I clicked on Koopʼs song Koop Island Blues and Amazon Music played the song Ode to Billie Joe by Nicola Conte.

If Amazon canʼt handle something as simple as playing music, maybe I shouldnʼt let it store my credit card information.

Amazon Music playing the wrong song again.
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Is it Svørjfunbsn already?

Monday, October 17th, 2022 Alive 18,801 days

A confused iPhone lock screen

Today is Monday, October 17. My iPhone wants to tell me that in several languages, all at once.

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Customer “service”

Sunday, October 16th, 2022 Alive 18,800 days

An e-mail from Starbucks

Today I had the misfortune of trying to use Starbucks customer service. I donʼt know which middle manager got a big bonus out of this scheme, but do hope that someday that person has to use the system he set up. Itʼs a masterpiece of outsourcing failure.

I placed an order on the Starbucks web site to send an e-gift card to someone. Immediately, I received an e-mail receipt. A few minutes later, I received an e-mail stating that “We were unable to process your eGift Card order from Starbucks.”

I placed the order again. Once again, the receipt came immediately. Then the same automated processing failure letter.

I tried once more, the next day, with a different payment card. Same story.

Finally, I decided to call the phone number. After all, customer service is available seven days a week. It turns out all that means is that the phone number is answered seven days a week. It doesnʼt mean anything can be done to fix the problem.

After being transferred three times, and reading the order number to three different people, I was finally informed that all the people who answer the phone are allowed to do is send an e-mail to another department letting them know that I'd like to place an order.

Eventually I received another e-mail from Starbucks “customer service:”

We were unable to reprocess your Gift Card order.
However, if you are still in need of a gift card we recommend replacing your order.

Good idea. As suggested, I “replaced” my order. I replaced my Starbucks gift card order with one for an Amazon.com gift card.

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Duckduckfail

Thursday, October 13th, 2022 Alive 18,797 days

Duckduckgo showing results for India, even though I searched for America

I guess that by “America,” Duckduckgo thinks I mean “India.”

Some day I hope to live in a world where search engines search for what I ask, and not for what they feel like showing me.

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Not yours. Canʼt has.

Tuesday, October 11th, 2022 Alive 18,795 days

Amazon Music stating that music that it can no longer play some music that it used to play

Streaming media is one of the many areas of technology that has failed to live up to its hype.

Streaming services use vague marketing words promising “unlimited” this and “endless” that. But the seldom-acknowledged fact is that if you rely on streaming music services, the music you love could just disappear tomorrow with no notice, or recourse. Thanks for the money, donʼt let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

Just like how newspapers publish lists of whatʼs going to disappear from Netflix at the end of the month, streaming music also gains and loses music and artists regularly.

The screenshot above is Amazon Music telling me that it no longer has any songs by Comsat Angels. It knows Comsat Angels. It used to have Comsat Angels music. But not today. If you love Comsat Angels and give money to Amazon Music, youʼre out of luck.

Streaming music is the same thing as renting music. You donʼt own it. It can be taken away from you at any time.

Itʼs similar to when Microsoft abandoned its e-book store and millions of people lost the millions of books they thought they owned. A digital librarian sneaked into their homes in the middle of the night, emptied their shelves, and left behind a note reading, “Didnʼt you read page 640 of the EULA? You only rented these books. Sucker.”

This is all fine if all you care about is whatever is trendy over the last 48 hours. But people connect to books, movies, and especially music emotionally. Thatʼs why people create music. And to have those emotions yanked away from you is going to be hard on people once they realize that the things they once loved have disappeared and they didnʼt know it was going to happen.

As for the Comsat Angels, Iʼll hit the local record stores to find what Iʼm looking for. Then Iʼll own it. For real and forever.

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Mass hysteria

Monday, October 10th, 2022 Alive 18,794 days

A series of e-mails from Walgreens that I ignored until someone was at my front door

I spend too much time pointing out the shortcomings of modern technology. Thereʼs a reason that Tech and Fail are among my most populated blathr tags.

Today, however, Iʼd like to point out what, on the surface, looks like a tech success story. But at a deeper level is the success of a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer to adapt to changes in society in order to — literally — deliver better than a tech company did.

It started a couple of days ago, when I ordered something medical from Amazon.com. In general, I donʼt buy anything that goes on or in a living being from Amazon. Between counterfeits, people selling used items as new, and a constantly-growing list of other reasons, relying on Amazon just isnʼt safe anymore. When your company canʼt even prevent selling bogus copies of books, you have a problem.

In this case, however, I ordered from Amazon because the medical thing I needed was not available from any of the CVS or Walgreens stores that I can reach, and purchasing from Walmart meant waiting two to three weeks for delivery. Walmart used to be safer than Amazon, but has recently decided to trod the same road to unreliability by embracing unknown, unverified, and dubious independent sellers.

What Amazon delivered was clearly not suitable. Instead of being in branded packaging, the item was in a Zip-Loc bag. Legitimate medical items arenʼt packaged in consumer baggies. Legitimate medical items are also not labeled by hand in ball-point pen. And they also donʼt spill their contents during shipping, unless they are seriously mishandled. The box that the item arrived in was in fine shape, and the medical item sufficiently padded.

Exasperated, I went to the CVS web site to see if perhaps the item was back in stock my local store. The CVS web site would not function. So I tried Walgreens. Except, this time instead of specifying a store that I can get to easily by train, I let the Walgreens web site pick one. And it did a splendid job.

The item I needed was in stock at a Walgreens in an area I would never think to travel to. So I put two in my cart, selected “Same day delivery” and went back to reading my New York Times.

Before I could finish the International section, there was a guy dropping a paper bag on my doorstep.

I checked my e-mail and found that the time from when I placed my order online until Walgreens notified me that my order was ready to be delivered was four minutes. Four minutes. It was picked up minutes after that, and delivered to me straight away.

The total time from when I placed the order to when I received my Walgreens order was 22 minutes. For an item that I couldn't get at a drug store near me, and that Amazon sent a counterfeit of.

Yes, I had to pay $3.99 for the delivery. But the item was a dollar cheaper at Walgreens than at Amazon, and I ordered two of them. So the cost difference was $1.99. More importantly — I got what I paid for.

Walgreens is better than Amazon. Man bites dog. The sky is green. Everything the tech bubble has been preaching about the death of brick-and-mortar is wrong.

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Curiouser and curiouser

Monday, October 10th, 2022 Alive 18,794 days

An error message triggered by asking Microsoft to stop selling my personal information

Funny how Microsoft has no problem at all automatically opting me in to sharing my personal information with its “partners” within four seconds of me creating an account. But if I try to opt-out, it suddenly canʼt cope.

If a simple toggle of a button can bring Microsoft to its knees, why would I trust it with anything at all? Is this the power, resiliency, and scaleability of the masterful Azure “cloud” its always talking about?

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See if they have any common sense

Friday, October 7th, 2022 Alive 18,791 days

The Walmart app's availability filter

The Walmart app has a filter labeled ”Show available items only.” Seriously? Why would I want a store to show me things that it doesnʼt have?

Who goes to a store, or looks at a storeʼs app and thinks to themselves, “I wonder if they donʼt have this?” “Hey, Walmart, show me all the things that you canʼt sell."

What kind of things are on Walmartʼs list of things it doesnʼt have. Fabergé eggs? The Loch Ness Monster? Maybe the Popeʼs mitre?

Walmart is far from the only store guilty of this. Amazon is among the worst offenders. Target and Walgreens, too.

How does showing things you donʼt have benefit a customer?

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Your call is very important to us…

Monday, October 3rd, 2022 Alive 18,787 days

“This call is being recorded for quality assurance.”

Really? Me, too. Same reason.

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Recact-o-matic

Saturday, October 1st, 2022 Alive 18,785 days

H.E.B. notifying me that my groceries will arrive in 17 minutes

When H.E.B. says the grocery delivery person is 17 minutes away, thatʼs how I know he's standing outside my door unloading his cart. It's always exactly 17 minutes. I get the text message, look for the cat acting up, and can see the shadow of the delivery person outside my door.

Consistency is a good thing. And “consistently wrong” is a type of consistency, right?

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Break a leg!

Friday, September 30th, 2022 Alive 18,784 days

An error message from Houston Methodist Hospital's Epic system

Houston Methodist Hospital has eighty-brazillion dollars and ninty-brazillion employees. If it canʼt keep its webview from breaking a leg, what am I supposed to do?

Also, someone should fix that grammar. It's probably Epicʼs default, but that doesnʼt make it right.

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Thanks for nothing

Thursday, September 29th, 2022 Alive 18,783 days

Apple Maps showing me that the local American Express office is permanently closed

Dear Apple Maps,

Please stop showing me places that are “permanently closed.” I know the pandemic ruined everything. Youʼre not helping me find whatʼs left.

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Warm fuzzy logic

Wednesday, September 28th, 2022 Alive 18,782 days

A high temperature warning from my iPhone

It's nice that iOS 16 lets people know the phone is too hot when it does things. It used to do things, but not tell you.

When I lived in the desert, just having an iPhone in your pocket or on a table could sometimes cause the phone to turn itself off. If you were lucky, you'd see something very quickly appear on the screen about “Entering thermal shutdown” or some such. A minute later, you were out in the desert without a working phone.

Apple, and most tech companies, build their products for the environment where Apple, and most tech companies, are located — San Francisco. When I talk to tech people who work at these companies, sometimes they simply cannot wrap their brains around weather conditions that are commonplace elsewhere.

Another example is iPhone wired headphones. Theyʼre made with plastic that gets brittle in the cold. Of course, when youʼre bundled up against the cold is when you need your headphones the most. That was how I learned about Bluetooth headphones, and got a set of Sony headphones for use with my SonyEricsson M600c when commuting on the CTA in the middle of the night during Chicago winters. Apple wouldnʼt make its own wireless headphones until over a decade later.

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I have plenty of credentials

Thursday, September 22nd, 2022 Alive 18,776 days

A FortiClient error message with bad grammar

“Insufficient” means “not enough,” it doesnʼt mean wrong. “Incorrect” is closer to what FortiClient is trying to say. This is why tech companies should hire a proofreader for anything that leaves the building, even if only on a contract basis. It makes you look amateur, and in the case of this security app — insecure.

Also, if you use “credential(s),” rather than just counting the number of credentials and using the correct word, thatʼs just lazy.

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Ask what you mean

Thursday, September 22nd, 2022 Alive 18,776 days

Microsoft Teams asking how the call quality was

The call quality was awful. The organizer wasn't prepared, peopleʼs dogs kept barking, and I ran out of coffee. One star.

Oh, you mean how was the connection quality? Why didnʼt you ask that, Microsoft Teams?

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Still better than %NaN%

Saturday, September 17th, 2022 Alive 18,771 days

Bad data during iOS 16 setup

I guess someone on the iOS 16 team at Apple didnʼt check for NULL before shoving the date data into the string formatter. The lesson is, of course, that while you never trust external data, sometimes you can't trust internal data, either.

Still, Apple is the single largest company on the planet right now. If it canʼt do software, what chance do I have?

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Brain freeze

Thursday, September 15th, 2022 Alive 18,769 days

A package of H.E.B. frozen cheese ravioli

This H.E.B. frozen cheese ravioli is “ready to cook.” Is there another option? Does H.E.B. sell “some assembly required” cheese ravioli?

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Agree, and be ignored

Thursday, September 15th, 2022 Alive 18,769 days

Screenshot of the ITV News app

The ITV News app does not allow you to reject cookies. Not even optional ones. The only choice you have is to agree to its folksy question “You ok [sic] with our use of cookies?”

Another screenshot from the FAILed ITV News app

But, wait — it gets worse. Even if you accept the cookies, all that happens is the over-friendly “Agreed!” button gets greyed out. You never actually get to proceed to the ITV News app.

As the Brits say, it's “not fit for purpose.”

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You did this to yourself

Wednesday, September 14th, 2022 Alive 18,768 days

Screenshot of Microsoft Word

…Now select “Hyperlink” … No, the other “Hyperlink” … No, the one with the control decoration indicating … No, the other one … No, just mouse over “Hyperlink” … No, the other one …

This is why Iʼm reluctant to help people through their Microsoft woes.

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Word to your motherboard

Tuesday, September 13th, 2022 Alive 18,767 days

Microsoft Outlook is telling me that there is a problem with Microsoft Word. I guess itʼs well-intentioned, but snitches get stitches.

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Delivery headache

Tuesday, September 13th, 2022 Alive 18,767 days

I tried to track my PillPack delivery. I got this error message.

I guess this is what happens when I rely on the same company that sells me plastic adhesive googlie eyes 👀 👀 👀 to deliver my prescriptions.

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Do what?

Monday, September 12th, 2022 Alive 18,766 days

This menu is beyond inscrutable.

There's a big push in large healthcare companies to make things easier for patients. It sounds dumb to have to state that, but there has not always been the institutional will to care for patients on their level. But a lot of studies and computer models have shown that something as simple as repeating instructions to a patient can improve the outcomes of treatment in a percentage of people. With so many people in the world now, even a small change can mean enormous savings in money for hospitals, insurance companies, and the patients, themselves.

Unfortunately, we're still at the beginning of the process of bringing the healthcare institutions down to the level of the people they are supposed to serve. The use of regular language and easy methods is spreading, but remains uneven.

To wit: The image above, which is the first question asked when trying to book an imaging appointment with Houston Methodist Hospital.

This is an online form for patients, not doctors. When a regular person phones Methodist to make an imaging appointment, it suggests you use this form to make the appointment online.

I am not a doctor. How am I supposed to know if I need an “MRI 1.5T Wide Bore with Contrast,” or an “MRI 3T without Contrast,”, or a “Fluoroscopy,” or something else? It turns out the type of appointment I need isn't even listed in the options.

As someone who builds healthcare web sites for a living, I understand the technical reasons why this is the way it is. But I also understand that it doesn't have to be this way.

There are people in healthcare who care quite a lot about making things easier, and therefore better, for patients. That caring and understanding rarely pervades and entire organization. But it has to.

What we see here is, in my semi-expert opinion, a breakdown in the chain of caring. Something got outsourced to an external company that doesn't have to care. Someone didn't get trained in the importance of making things easier for the patients, and let this awful thing see the light of day. Some web developer somewhere doesn't have the authority, confidence, or will to question what's been handed to him to produce. He's just there to push buttons and cash a check.

Every person at every level of a healthcare organization not only had to be told to care, but trained to care. Even, and especially, the directors and C-levels. The upper levels are told about how much money can be saved by making healthcare more accessible to ordinary people. But they aren't trained in what that actually looks like, so they are not able to spot mistakes as they're happening, so they can have the people under them correct the problems before they persist and spread. Allowing people to say “That's the way we've always done it” is evidence of a sclerotic organization.

Similarly, and as alluded to above, with the continual outsourcing of functions, you also end up outsourcing caring. Someone pasting together AJAX snippets from StackOverflow in an SalesForce application on the other side of the planet doesn't care that the web site is useless to 90% of users. They've done their job, and that's all their staffing company cares about. It's important to understand that lack of detail and care makes your healthcare company look bad, and it hurts your bottom line by making your treatments less effective, and making your doctors work more.

Everyone in a healthcare organization has to not only care about the patients, but be trained in this. Not just the hands-on people like doctors and nurses and patient liaisons. Everyone. The people who process forms. The people in accounting. And, yes, the I.T. people. Every single person in a healthcare organization affects patients in some way.

To its credit, of the dozens healthcare organizations I've interacted with in dozens of states, Methodist is among the better and more advanced with regard to how it treats its patients. But the process is incomplete.

Healthcare companies talk a lot about caring. But unless there is an ethos of responsibility to the patient that includes every single person in that organization, it's all just marketing.

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Weʼre number what?

Monday, September 12th, 2022 Alive 18,766 days

Those Methodists make a fine cup of coffee

Iʼm always trying to explain to my coworkers the importance of future-proofing what you publish.

Here we see a happy coffee sleeve touting Houston Methodist Hospitalʼs rank as the number 16 hospital in the nation. Except that it isnʼt.

Methodist is actually number 15. Sixteen was last year. But some middle manager thought it was a good idea to order fifty brazillion coffee sleeves flogging the #16 position, and now itʼs stuck under-bragging until they run out.

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I understand that you understand

Friday, September 9th, 2022 Alive 18,763 days

Amazon.com chatbot in action

I'm not sure where the Amazon.com chatbot picked up the phrase “Thank you for understanding here.” But, inspired by its gratefulness, I think Iʼll understand “over there” next.

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Seattle, we have a problem

Friday, September 9th, 2022 Alive 18,763 days

An Amazon.com error message

With half a trillion dollars to work with, this still happens to Amazon.com. So, what chance do I have?

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A meaningless milestone

Friday, September 2nd, 2022 Alive 18,756 days

Netflix says today marks one year since I've had Netflix. Which is not true. I've had Netflix for 24 years. But Netflix doesn't have a way to put an account on hold when you go on vacation, or move. Instead, you have to cancel your account, then sign up again when you come back home or arrive in your new place.

Amazingly, and much to its credit, when you sign up again, your Netflix queue is restored, and you're right where you left off. So I guess it's only ½ a fail.

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What did I just tell you?

Wednesday, August 31st, 2022 Alive 18,754 days

Every time I use Microsoft Windows, I manage to find another way it simply doesn't make sense to me.

In this example, I have instructed Microsoft Outlook to “Save All Attachments” from a particular e-mail message. Instead of saving all of the attachments, it pops up a modal window asking which attachments Iʼd like to save. Well, Iʼd like to save them all. Which is why I clicked on “Save All Attachments” and not “Save some, but I'm not sure which ones I might want, so why don't you stop me in the middle of my work instead of doing what I've instructed you to do.”

There would be no shame in Microsoft adding a “Save Some Attachments…” item to its already ample menu structure.

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Atlantic City can't get a break

Friday, August 19th, 2022 Alive 18,742 days

Looking for a fine collection of photos depicting Mozambique, Italy, Japan, and the Middle East? Just search Adobe Stock for “Atlantic City, New Jersey.”

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Does not inspire confidence

Thursday, August 18th, 2022 Alive 18,741 days

Fidelity has 4½ trillion dollars ($4,500,000,000,000.00). If it canʼt make a web site work, what chance do I have?

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Coffee underachiever

Sunday, August 14th, 2022 Alive 18,737 days

A repair guy working on the super-duper high-tech coffee robot machine. Which is almost always broken.

The Costa Coffee machine at Whole Foods is broken. Again. I've been to this particular Whole Foods in Midtown Houston nine times. The coffee machine has only been online and functional once.

It's either bad timing for me, or a bad machine from Costa. Either way, it's bad news for Whole Foods.

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Failsourcing

Sunday, August 14th, 2022 Alive 18,737 days

Picture of a Chinese city in the Apple Maps entry for Midland, Texas

Crowdsourcing used to be all the rage in the tech industry. It was a way to get content for your project for free. Use your automation system to ask enough people for content, and some small percentage will happy oblige. The problem with crowdsourcing is quality control.

If you let anyone contribute anything, anyone will contribute anything. I once built a crowdsourced system for people to share photographs of landmarks. A significant percentage of the photos contributed were people standing in front of a camera holding up their resumes, presumably hoping that someone searching for a photo of the Berlin Wall might magically hire them to write code in India.

In the example above, we see the result of two levels of folly. Getty Images allows anyone to upload photographs to its system in order to sell those pictures to other people. That's the crowdsourcing. Then Apple outsourced photography for Apple Maps to a bunch of entities, including Wikipedia, TripAdvisor, and also Getty Images.

The result is a photo of a city in China among the photographs that are supposed to depict the West Texas city of Midland.

Never trust content you don't control.

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Whoops right back at'cha

Friday, August 12th, 2022 Alive 18,735 days

An error message starting with the header “Whoops!”

When your three-billion-dollar companyʼs error messages start with “Whoops!,” it does not inspire confidence in your three-billion-dollar company.

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Cleanup in aisle 500

Thursday, August 11th, 2022 Alive 18,734 days

An H.E.B. error message

H.E.B. has over 100,000 employees. Someone should get out and push.

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Iʼve fallen, and I canʼt get up

Wednesday, August 10th, 2022 Alive 18,733 days

H.E.B. JSON payload

I sure hope Iʼve never broken a web site so badly that it starts squirting JSON all over the intarwebs.

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Performing stability

Wednesday, August 10th, 2022 Alive 18,733 days

A list of meaningless status updates from eero

Vagueness is not a virtue. I can only imaging that the git commit history for Amazonʼs eero team looks like “Update,” “Update,” “Update,” “Update,” “Update.”

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I remain uncaffeinated

Wednesday, August 10th, 2022 Alive 18,733 days

A sign at Midway airport listing coffee options

This sign at Midway Airport helpfully lists 18 coffee options in the gate area. I had a couple of hours to kill, so I went looking for a cup of joe. No luck.

More than half of the locations were closed, either temporarily or permanently. Most of the rest had lines 30 people deep. Probably because so many of the other restaurants were closed.

When I did finally find a place with a reasonably-sized line, they had no coffee. Didn't know they were supposed to have coffee. And were surprised to see their location listed on an official airport sign as having coffee.

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Broken news

Wednesday, August 10th, 2022 Alive 18,733 days

A broken marquee outside WLS-TV

This LED pylon was a big deal when it debuted 20 years ago. Even though it only showed promos for WLS-TV news, it was considered a major work of public art, which is why it was allowed to take up space on a public sidewalk.

The last time I checked on it was in 2017. It was broken then. It was also broken today, when I checked on it again in 2022. I can only hope that I just have bad timing, and it hasn't been broken for five years. State Street is already a lot shabbier than when I lived a few blocks away.

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Empty news

Wednesday, August 10th, 2022 Alive 18,733 days

An empty newspaper rack at Adams and Dearborn in Chicago

It was just a decade ago that newspapers were fighting for space in Chicagoʼs downtown newspaper racks. Now, nobody cares.

The racks were installed by the second Mayor Daley as part of his efforts to clean up downtown, where busy street corners would sometimes have ten, 15, or even 20 newspaper boxes all chained together, spilling out into the street and blocking both pedestrians and traffic.

The new street furniture brought order, but also controversy. Small and marginal publication accused the city of playing favorites. There was always room for a Tribune drawer, or a Sun-Times drawer, or a Crainʼs Chicago Business drawer; but neighborhood, non-English, classified advertising, and pornography publications couldn't always get in.

Lawsuits were threatened, but I donʼt know if they ever went anywhere. Perhaps simply because right around the same time, people en masse decided to get their news from the internet for free, instead of paying for dead trees. It didn't help that both of the big newspapers doubled their prices (or more) as the internet ate their revenue.

Today, about the only place to get a newspaper in downtown Chicago is in a drug store. And even then, you might have to go to two or three different stores to find one, since so few are printed. There's no need, since work-from-home has made a 2022 weekday lunchtime on LaSalle Street feel like the same location at 6am on a Sunday in 2012.

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I do not want fries with that

Wednesday, August 10th, 2022 Alive 18,733 days

A “Ham Quicke” at the Lavazza cafe inside The Drake Hotel

I used to live in a state where prostitution is legal, and even Iʼm not sure what a “ham quicke” is.

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Welcome to Chicago. Now go home.

Tuesday, August 9th, 2022 Alive 18,732 days

The Discover Chicago store at Midway Airport. Closed for business.

I know that Mayor Lightfoot put a lot of work into the retail experience at Chicagoʼs airports. One of her big successes was populating them almost exclusively with local restaurants. Great idea. But you can't highlight local businesses, if those businesses aren't open.

This photo was taken at on a Tuesday at 5:37pm. It does a pretty good job of illustrating the retail situation at Midway Airport. Even though this was prime time for travelers, very few of the shops were open.

First impressions count. And millions of people will have this as their first impression of Chicago when arriving at Midway.

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Still more productive than an agile standup

Sunday, August 7th, 2022 Alive 18,730 days

Ycombinator error

Hacker News is broken. Silicon Valley productivity up 63%.

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Laissez les bons temps spamer

Friday, August 5th, 2022 Alive 18,728 days

E-mail unsubscribe confirmation. Maybe.

This e-mail from the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority reads “You unsubscribed.” It also says “You will receive an email update when new information becomes available.”

So, am I unsubscribed, or am I going to receive e-mail updates?

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Watching a storm >$brew.sh

Sunday, July 31st, 2022 Alive 18,723 days

An error message from the National Weather Serviceʼs web site

The National Weather Service has a budget of $1.2 billion. If it canʼt keep a web site from drowning, what chance do I have?

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Smells like a white linnen sheet flapping in the breeze atop a grassy hill

Saturday, July 30th, 2022 Alive 18,722 days

My debit card, after a million tumbles in the dryer

I lost my debit card a month ago. I found it today, wedged under one of the fins in the dryer. That means it not only went through the washing machine, it went through about 30 dryer cycles.

The card still works. The chip is fine, and the mag stripe works OK on newer machines.

Do that with your fancy device with Apple Pay, or whatever Google is calling its wallet this week, and you know what happens? You walk home.

I see people on the internet all the time claiming that plastic cards and cash are things of the past, and no longer needed. Thatʼs only true if you never go anywhere interesting, never eat anywhere unusual, and never do laundry.

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Connection over sneakernet

Saturday, July 30th, 2022 Alive 18,722 days

The Chase United Guide to benefits

Iʼm supposed to have super-duper awesome benefits with United Airlines because I have a Chase credit card. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to see what those benefits are. Naturally, the link on the Chase web site was broken. It just looped though a login screen over and over.

Since Iʼm a paying customer, I moaned about it to Chaseʼs customer service.

I ended up booking my ticket on another airline, and forgot all about it until I got this in the the mail today. I guess someone at Chase figured it would be faster to mail me a book about the benefits than to fix the link.

I guess this ends up being a story about good customer service, because not only do I have the book, but I just checked, and the link is fixed, too.

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Can't get there from here

Friday, July 29th, 2022 Alive 18,721 days

Me: “Hey, Siri, stop the music.”

Siri: “Sorry, Wayne. I'm unable to stop.”

Really? It's only R.E.M. It's not like you can dance to it.

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“Try to look like you're on skag”

Friday, July 29th, 2022 Alive 18,721 days

Have you ever noticed that if you search for “doctor patient vaccine” in Adobe Stock, 90% of the fake doctors injecting their fake patients are using the same technique that a junkie uses to mainline skag? Have these photographers never received any kind of vaccine ever in their lives?

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The stack, she has overflowed

Friday, July 29th, 2022 Alive 18,721 days

Screenshot of Stackoverflow error message 'The service is unavailable.'

Stackoverflow is broken. Silicon Valley grinds to a halt.

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Speak directly into the horn

Saturday, July 23rd, 2022 Alive 18,715 days

Me (to the HomePod three feet in front of me): “Hey, Siri, is it going to rain today?”

A different HomePod (three rooms away): “-mumble- -mumble- -mumble- -something- -mumble-

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They should call it ToiletTime

Sunday, July 17th, 2022 Alive 18,709 days

Screen time screenshot

Today, Siri informed me that I use my phone an average of 19 hours and 22 minutes per day. Either Siri is wrong, or I really need to eat more fiber.

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Support hosed

Saturday, July 16th, 2022 Alive 18,708 days

Citibank telling me to get stuffed

Today I learned from tech support at Citibank that Safari is not supported for “security reasons.” She recommended that I use the vastly less-secure Google Chrome browser, instead.

Good job, Citibank.

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United in failure

Saturday, July 16th, 2022 Alive 18,708 days

United Airlines not working

I sure wish I could book a flight on United Airlines. But for three days in two different browsers on two different computers, all I get when I search is this screen, which never changes.

Maybe American Airlines wants my money.

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Food for thought

Friday, July 15th, 2022 Alive 18,707 days

An H.E.B. error message

HEB made $31,000,000,000 last year. If it can't make a web site work, what chance do I have?

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It's not even Christmas yet

Wednesday, July 13th, 2022 Alive 18,705 days

A pile of packages

Thanks, Amazon. Ooh! Paper towels!

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Timeless

Friday, July 1st, 2022 Alive 18,693 days

macOS Montgomery installing very slowly

My headless M1 Mac Mini crashed hard, so I had to hook up a monitor and re-install macOS Monterrey, which after 30 minutes helpfully tells me, “About a minute remaining.”

And by “About a minute” it meant a little under three hours.

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A side of mystery

Friday, June 10th, 2022 Alive 18,672 days

Bad formatting on the Dominoʼs web site

Dominoʼs Pizza made four billion dollars in 2020. It should have enough people working on its web site to make sure the CAPTCHA doesn't overflow its container.

It also shouldnʼt use Google's reCAPTCHA service, but thatʼs a different bucket of plastic monkeys.

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Sick site

Friday, June 3rd, 2022 Alive 18,665 days

An error message from Houston Methodist Hospital

This is what happens when you try to let Houston Methodist know about an error on its web site.

Thatʼs one way to reduce customer service costs by 100%.

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Well, add something!

Friday, May 27th, 2022 Alive 18,658 days

Bad string handling in the Amazon.com app

It seems that my choices are to:

  • Add a credit or debit card
  • Add a credit or debit card
  • Add a personal checking account
  • or add a personal checking account

Maybe Iʼll enter my personal financial information later, when Amazon.comʼs system is a little more stable.

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Amateurs

Saturday, May 21st, 2022 Alive 18,652 days

The Howdy Kolache logo

If I had an Instagram account, I could tell the supposedly Texas-style Howdy Kolache company that saguaro cacti donʼt grow in Texas. They only grow in southwestern Arizona, hundreds of miles away.

Iʼd tell them myself, but like many hobby companies these days, the only way to make contact is via the one random social media app of their choice.

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Try &​amp​; fail

Thursday, May 19th, 2022 Alive 18,650 days

Bad entity encoding on the H.E.B. web site

H.E.B. makes web developers sad.

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🎵Slow down🎵

Monday, May 16th, 2022 Alive 18,647 days

An Amazon Music error message

Part of the Amazon Music screen says “purchased.” Another part says I canʼt download the music I paid for.

Trying again in 15 minutes didnʼt change anything. Nor did trying again in 30 minutes, or 45. An hour after my purchase I got on the blower with Amazon customer service, and was told to wait 24 hours to download the music I paid for.

Thatʼs OK for me, because I'm patient. I was able to download the music when I tried a couple of days later. But isnʼt the whole point of Amazon Music that people are supposed to have immediate, unlimited access to their music?

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Chicken shit

Saturday, May 14th, 2022 Alive 18,645 days

Chick-fil-a refusing to take my order

Today I learned that Chick-fil-a is not interested in serving the 50 million Americans, including the elderly, the poor, and some disabled people, who do not have or cannot use a mobile phone.

Also, anyone whoʼs phone has run out of battery, or anyone has dropped their phone, or pays for data, or is from another country.

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Citibonk

Saturday, May 7th, 2022 Alive 18,638 days

A citi.com error message

Citibank is the third-largest bank in the United States. It has almost two trillion dollars. Itʼs been around for 210 years.

And yet, it still canʼt make a web site that works. So what chance do I have?

Also, with two trillion dollars, youʼd think it could hire people who can write complete sentences.

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Citiborked

Saturday, May 7th, 2022 Alive 18,638 days

A citi.com error message

I think that the word “unexpected” is pretty high on the list of words you donʼt want to hear from your bank. It ranks right up there with “insolvent.”

Fortunately, Citibank is only the third-largest bank in America. Itʼs not like its web site is used for anything important.

If Citibank canʼt keep its web site from going all pear-shaped, what chance do I have?

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Donʼt worry, theyʼll get their money

Friday, April 15th, 2022 Alive 18,616 days

An error message on the Nevada Department of Taxation web site

Itʼs one thing for Facebook to have a hiccup every now and again. Nothing important ever happened on Facebook.

But when the Nevada Department of Taxationʼs web site upchucks on tax day, itʼs cause for concern.

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Button pusher

Tuesday, April 12th, 2022 Alive 18,613 days

A glitched iPhone screen

You know youʼre far away from home, when the seven Home buttons that control your lights and things go away on your iPhone.

It would be less disturbing for there to be a message like “Canʼt connect to your home right now,” rather than just making them disappear.

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Package deal

Saturday, April 9th, 2022 Alive 18,610 days

Abandoned packages from Amazon.com

Three packages for three different people dumped in a corner is actually not the worst Amazon.com delivery experience Iʼve seen lately.

At least these were inside a building, and not just dumped on a sidewalk outside a skyscraper in the middle of Americaʼs fourth-largest city.

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I thought they were working from home

Friday, March 4th, 2022 Alive 18,574 days

Amazon.com telling me itʼs too busy to take my money

Thereʼs a big backup at the floating bridge toll booth, so there are no Amazon.com employees available to take my order right now.

If Amazon.com canʼt keep its web site running, what chance do I have?

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Nice unlabeled action button

Saturday, February 12th, 2022 Alive 18,554 days

An error on the self-service point-of-sale machine at Shake Shack

The self-service ordering gizmo at Shake Shack canʼt cope with my hot dog order. Which I find a bit ironic, considering that Shake Shack started out as a hot dog stand.

This is what I get for using a computer to replace a personʼs job. Thereʼs a perfectly good human being ten feet away who can take my order if I wait 90 seconds, and my bag will never be out of sync.

Remember when technology was going to make our lives better?

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Captured interest

Saturday, February 12th, 2022 Alive 18,554 days

After four phone calls, and a total of 74 minutes on hold with Bank of America, I was finally told that the people who can fix my problem donʼt work on Saturdays. But I can go to my local branch.

Except that all of the local branches are “temporarily closed.” So I canʼt even close my accounts in protest.

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All the news that ℔Ωℹ︎ℌℑ℁℀… NO CARRIER

Wednesday, February 9th, 2022 Alive 18,551 days

An error message on one of the Houston Chronicle's web sites

One of my newspapers didnʼt come today. So I tried to let the Houston Chronicle know it has a problem. Naturally, since the conglomerate that ate Houstonʼs paper of record doesnʼt have customer service people on the weekend, I have to fill out a report online. And, naturally, the web site doesnʼt work.

Even if I had to wait on hold for a while to speak to someone about it, a human being could solve the problem immediately. Instead, I have to remember to call the newspaperʼs customer service people during the week to get credit for the missed delivery.

Remember when computers were going to make our lives better?

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So expected

Thursday, January 6th, 2022 Alive 18,517 days

Things that sometimes donʼt work, or donʼt work as expected:

  • Apple Music
  • Spotify
  • SiriusXM
  • Amazon Music
  • Pandora

Thing that always works exactly as expected: My wifeʼs vinyl record player.

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Privacy doesnʼt grow on trees

Monday, December 20th, 2021 Alive 18,500 days

Today I learned that Edible Arrangements won't let you buy anything without using a credit card, and without being put into “the system.”

I just want to buy something, hand over some money, and walk away. Why is that so wrong? Why must I be signed up, tracked, tabulated, collated, and sold in order to buy fruit?

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Took you long enough

Friday, December 17th, 2021 Alive 18,497 days

My actual thought process this afternoon: “I should stop by the drug store on the way home. Oh, wait, my phone isnʼt charged. I wish I had some cash with me.”

I now understand that I am a slave to technology.

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Thinking is hard

Thursday, November 11th, 2021 Alive 18,461 days

A column in todayʼs newspaper suggests, “Try a plant-based sweetener like Stevia” instead of sugar.

So what exactly to millennials think sugar is made from? Rocks? Oil? The dried, ground up bones of boomers?

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Do Not Localize

Monday, November 1st, 2021 Alive 18,451 days

Botched localization in macOS

If Apple can't get localization right, what chance to the rest of us have?

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So, can I ride for free?

Saturday, October 30th, 2021 Alive 18,449 days

A broken Metro ticket machine

When it comes to transit hardware malfunctions, I guess itʼs better that the ticket machine fails than the train.

Although, I think I havenʼt seen a parity error in 30 years.

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Needs to perk up

Wednesday, October 20th, 2021 Alive 18,439 days

The Costa Coffee machine at Whole Foods being repaired again

If you ever want to know what the inside of an automatic barista machine looks like, just head to Whole Foods in Midtown Houston. Thereʼs a good chance itʼs inner mechanism is open and available for you to examine.

Iʼm not sure how many times Iʼve been to this Whole Foods store — maybe a dozen times — and the coffee machine has never been working.

Every time I go, thereʼs a repairman busy tinkering with it. Which seems like quite a coincidence. Either Costa Coffee has an employee whose job is to repair this one machine full-time, or thereʼs something about me going to Whole Foods that causes the machine to kill itself.

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Sour Apple

Monday, October 18th, 2021 Alive 18,437 days

An error message from Apple

If the single largest technology company on the planet canʼt keep its web site from upchucking, what chance do I have?

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A shot in the dark

Monday, September 27th, 2021 Alive 18,416 days

CVS #1 today: No, you canʼt have a COVID shot.

CVS #2 today: No, you canʼt have a COVID shot.

Walgreens: Here, have a COVID shot! And a coupon!

I donʼt think CVS understands the goals of the governmentʼs COVID vaccination program.

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Dead tree edition

Monday, September 20th, 2021 Alive 18,409 days

An error message from The New York Times

If the largest newspaper in America canʼt keep its web site running, what chance do I have?

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Upper railing

Sunday, September 19th, 2021 Alive 18,408 days

An error message from The New York Times

The New York Times has “lost” this web page. I guess thatʼs not surprising, since it also lost my newspaper today.

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Just… wow

Thursday, September 2nd, 2021 Alive 18,391 days

A screenshot of the NJ Family Care web site

I think I have found the worst government web site on the planet: New Jersey Family Care.

Its many technical faults aside, it looks like something a kid whipped up in Geocities in the 1990ʼs, not something dealing with healthcare. And certainly not something that taxpayer dollars paid for.

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Thirsty for vowels

Monday, August 16th, 2021 Alive 18,374 days

A dysfunctional fountain “Closed for Maintainence”

Three fails in one word. Pretty impressive.

  1. “Maintenance” is spelled wrong
  2. The line break isnʼt between syllables
  3. The line break isnʼt hyphenated

An additional point should be deducted for putting a dingbat in the middle of a sentence.

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Stock poorly

Friday, August 13th, 2021 Alive 18,371 days

An error message from Stockwell

My apartment building has a Stockwell vending machine in the basement.

Unlike the vending machines of yore, this one is just an open cabinet with a camera that watches what you take off the shelves and uses magic A.I. fairies to send you a bill. That is, if it works. Which it doesnʼt.

I canʼt even get the Stockwell app to acknowledge that the Stockwell machine in my building exists.

I guess Iʼll spend my snack money at the convenience store across the street, instead. Where I can pay by cash, or credit card, or Apple Pay, or even food stamps if I had them. And if something goes wrong, there are intermittently friendly people to help me out, and not some Silicon Valley robot barking, “object has no attribute.”

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Gettinʼ nothinʼ but static from Channel Z

Tuesday, August 10th, 2021 Alive 18,368 days

An error message from Netflix

Iʼm not happy that Netflix is borked. But at least the error message is creative.

But if Netflix canʼt keep its system running, what chance do I have?

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0xDEADBEEF

Thursday, August 5th, 2021 Alive 18,363 days

A malfunctioning gas pump

I have no idea how much I paid for gas. I think the credit price for Plus is “Burp.”

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On, Dasher

Thursday, August 5th, 2021 Alive 18,363 days

An error message from DoorDash

Not only did DoorDash eat itself, it canʼt even show a legible error message.

Itʼs like the DoubleFail Twins of delivery apps.

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No longer trying

Saturday, July 31st, 2021 Alive 18,358 days

A screenshot of a failed discussion with an Apple Card chatbot

When the Apple Card launched, it had the most amazing customer service.

Two years later, itʼs a smoldering pile of garbage.

❖ ❖ ❖

Friday, July 30th, 2021 Alive 18,357 days

An error message from Capital One

If I canʼt trust Capital One to run a web site, how can I trust it with my money?

Capital One failing at web development
❖ ❖ ❖

Errors all the way down

Tuesday, July 20th, 2021 Alive 18,347 days

An error message about Microsoft Error Reporting

Microsoft Office is so poorly programmed that even Microsoftʼs error reporting daemon crashes.

❖ ❖ ❖

This never happens at The Dime

Saturday, July 17th, 2021 Alive 18,344 days

An error message from Citibank

Citibank is broken today. But thatʼs OK. Itʼs not like 50 million people rely on Citibank for anything important.

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Customer service is king

Sunday, July 11th, 2021 Alive 18,338 days

I have a road trip coming up this week, so Iʼm calling the hotelsʼ front desks to confirm my reservations.

  • Holiday Inn: Answered immediately
  • Best Western: Answered immediately
  • Marriott: Transferred me three times, and left me on hold for 11 minutes so far

I think itʼs time to make a new reservation elsewhere.

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i18n_comment_snarky

Monday, June 28th, 2021 Alive 18,325 days

A failed attempt at communication from Microsoft

If Microsoft canʼt handle internationalization, what chance do the rest of us have?

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Loaded question

Sunday, June 27th, 2021 Alive 18,324 days

The New York Times app, with its pants around its ankles

The New York Times app sure knows how to load ads.

Too bad it doesnʼt know how to load the news that I pay for.

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♫ Weʼre the Bank of America… Whoa-oh! ♫

Monday, June 7th, 2021 Alive 18,304 days

An error message from Bank of America

With 200,000 employees, if Bank of America canʼt keep its web site from failing, what chance do I have?

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So swipe the other way

Friday, June 4th, 2021 Alive 18,301 days

A malfunctioning iPhone screen

I swiped up to unlock, and instead the screen sort-of half swiped left. The lock icon, the unlock instructions, the wallpaper, and a dark overlay moved left, revealing another copy of the wallpaper underneath. Meanwhile, the time, the music panel, and the quick keys stayed put.

Fortunately, all was solved ten seconds later when the phone shit itself and rebooted.

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Piston Positn

Friday, June 4th, 2021 Alive 18,301 days

An Atari Pole Position cart with a misspelled label

I got a new Atari cartridge today. Itʼs Pole Position.

Iʼm not big on racing games, though I enjoy watching other people play them. My problem is that Iʼm not very good at racing games. The one racing game I actually like and am also good at is Ridge Racers for the PSP.

This Pole Position cart wasnʼt a deliberate purchase. It came in a box with a knot of other games, but Iʼll keep it for two reasons.

First, because I do have some nostalgic memories of playing Pole Position when I was a kid. I wasnʼt any good at it back then, either. To me, a joystick was entirely the wrong control method for this game, especially considering that every Atari console shipped with perfectly fine paddle controllers, and many people also had the racing version of Atariʼs paddles left over from other games.

The second reason Iʼll keep it is because the end label is wrong. It reads “POLE POSITN*.”

Label errors werenʼt uncommon on Atari games, and got more and more common as the years went on and the company moved from sprinting to walking to hobbling with a cane to shuffling with a walker to its inevitable dirt nap. But this is a pretty glaring error, and I do enjoy knowing that other people make mistakes, too, so Iʼll put this one in a protective sack to keep it fresh.

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Any second now

Tuesday, May 25th, 2021 Alive 18,291 days

A progress notice from iPadOS

And by “0 seconds,” iPadOS means “Several minutes.”

❖ ❖ ❖

Too bad CentOS is dead

Tuesday, May 25th, 2021 Alive 18,291 days

An advertisement inside Ubuntu

Just when I thought that Linux was the last operating system without built-in advertising, along comes Ubuntu.

❖ ❖ ❖

Was it marked “Fragile?”

Saturday, May 22nd, 2021 Alive 18,288 days

A crushed USPS box, mangled by UPS

This is what happens when you recycle a Postal Service box to send something via UPS.

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Records still work fine

Wednesday, May 19th, 2021 Alive 18,285 days

An error message from Apple Music

If the single largest company on the planet canʼt keep its services from fudging their Huggies, what chance do I have?

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Itʼs half way to cheese

Wednesday, May 19th, 2021 Alive 18,285 days

Expired milk from Safeway

Oh, good. The milk I just bought at Safeway is only a week past its expiration date. Safeway is getting better.

Considering that milk has a pretty long shelf life, I wonder how long this carton has been sitting in the cooler. A month? Two months?

❖ ❖ ❖

Tuesday, May 18th, 2021 Alive 18,284 days

I used to blame myself and feel bad for not checking the expiration dates more closely when Iʼd end up with expired food from Safeway.

Now Iʼm just mad that Safeway willingly and repeatedly sells me expired food.

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Good for me, not for thee

Friday, May 14th, 2021 Alive 18,280 days

Apple spamming my iPhone

iOS Apps are not allowed to use push messaging for advertising. Unless itʼs an Apple app. Then itʼs perfectly fine.

❖ ❖ ❖

Heʼs right

Thursday, May 13th, 2021 Alive 18,279 days

An error message from CARROT³

Today I got hazed by my weather app.

❖ ❖ ❖

More like “10/5”

Sunday, May 2nd, 2021 Alive 18,268 days

Contradictory information from DirectNIC

DirectNIC is using a definition of “24/7” with which I was previously unfamiliar.

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Halmark is a spammer

Friday, April 30th, 2021 Alive 18,266 days

A screenshot of my opting out of Hallmarkʼs spam campaign, which it chose to ignore

Hallmark took my e-mail address “for [my] receipt.” I even took a screenshot just in case it lied. Which it did.

I now get spam from Hallmark at the unique e-mail address I set up for this Hallmark order.

Hallmark cannot be trusted.

❖ ❖ ❖

No one left to trust

Thursday, April 29th, 2021 Alive 18,265 days

Digital Ocean being a creeper

Today I learned that Digital Ocean watches your help searches and uses them for unsolicited marketing.

This is both very creepy, and a serious privacy issue.

❖ ❖ ❖

Priorities

Wednesday, April 28th, 2021 Alive 18,264 days

Siri still shits herself if you ask to change the volume and you have more than one HomePod.

But thank God the latest iOS update has 30 new bearded lady emojis. Carnival sideshows everywhere are weeping with joy.

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He is from Delaware

Saturday, April 24th, 2021 Alive 18,260 days

Me: “Hey, #Siri, put Hamburger Helper on my groceries list.”

Siri: “Who is speaking?”

Me: “Joe Biden.”

Siri: “OK, Iʼve added it to your groceries list.”

I sure hope the president likes Hamburger Helper.

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Negative experience

Thursday, April 22nd, 2021 Alive 18,258 days

Iʼm getting tired of all the lazy developers talking about how great Electron is.

I guess they donʼt have to use Microsoftʼs Azure Storage Explorer, which crashes on a weekly basis, taking down the entire machine and all of their work because itʼs built in Electron, and is not a real program.

❖ ❖ ❖

Sunday, April 18th, 2021 Alive 18,254 days

The 2GB/Sydney logo

More proof that Apple is trapped in the Silicon Valley bubble:

Me: “Hey, Siri, play 2GB [two-gee-bee] radio.”

Siri: “Now playing two gigabytes eight hundred seventy three...”

Itʼs only the biggest radio station in the largest city on the continent of Australia.

❖ ❖ ❖

What did you do now?

Monday, April 5th, 2021 Alive 18,241 days

An unpleasant message from Harrods

Harrods thinks Iʼm suspicious. I guess Iʼll spend my money over at Liberty, instead.

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Theyʼre right here at 127.0.0.1

Monday, March 22nd, 2021 Alive 18,227 days

A mysterious object

Not only does Appleʼs Find My app not know where my AirPods are, it doesnʼt even know what to call them.

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72 minutes into the future

Monday, March 15th, 2021 Alive 18,220 days

Microsoft Outlook being stupid

According to Microsoft Outlook, I replied to this message 72 minutes before I received it.

Itʼs not a Daylight Savings Time issue, or it would be just 60 minutes different.

Also, it would be nice if Microsoft Office would pick one date format and stick with it.

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So stop shopping at Walmart

Friday, March 12th, 2021 Alive 18,217 days

An error message from WalMart

In spite of all their fancy JavaScript, and invasive telemetry, I donʼt think online stores really have any idea how much money they lose every day by making their shopping process so complicated that the web site breaks.

Simplifying the stack would save development costs, management costs, and increase sales.

But nobody in tech gets promoted for making things less complicated.

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Pixels arenʼt free

Thursday, March 11th, 2021 Alive 18,216 days

An error message from WalMart

Vague error messages cost less, and Walmart passes that savings on to you!

Assuming you can eventually get to the check-out portion of the web site.

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Greed kills

Sunday, February 28th, 2021 Alive 18,205 days

We interrupt your iPad for this commercial message from Apple

In 2006 and 2007, Steve Jobs famously fought the big cell phone companies because he knew in-device ads would ruin the iPhone experience.

With Tim Cook, the most important thing is whatever makes money.

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Why is this acceptable?

Sunday, February 14th, 2021 Alive 18,191 days

An error message from an Apple HomePod

A piece of expensive high-tech equipment didnʼt work right in 2021? Shocking!

The error message makes no sense? Thatʼs impossible!

Oh well, Iʼll just look up error number -6753 in the imaginary manual that didnʼt come with the HomePod, and also doesnʼt exist online, or anywhere else.

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127 characters ought be enough for anyone

Friday, February 12th, 2021 Alive 18,189 days

A borked Walmart product listing

Somewhere, a Walmart web developer and his database manager are learning about UTF-8 and utfmb8.

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Saturday, February 6th, 2021 Alive 18,183 days

Me: “Hey, Siri, turn on the foyer lamp.”

Siri: “Playing all songs.”

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A ton of Newtons

Friday, January 29th, 2021 Alive 18,175 days

The New York Times web site incorrectly locating Newton, New Jersey in Kansas

This is what happens when your mapping database doesnʼt have coordinates for a town. It puts the town in Kansas.

In this case, the New York Times map jammed Newton, New Jersey in the middle of Kansas. It probably thinks other towns are there, too.

Never trust any data. Always check for NULL and improbable values.

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Wednesday, January 27th, 2021 Alive 18,173 days

Today I learned that Appleʼs HomePod canʼt play the music you own, stored on your own Mac, in your own home, even with so-called “Home Sharing” enabled.

After 10 years of “Rip, Mix, Burn” can you imagine someone telling Steve Jobs, “We have this new music gadget, but you canʼt play any of the music you own on it.” Only rental music.

Someone would be fired before he even finished that sentence.

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Wednesday, January 27th, 2021 Alive 18,173 days

Me: “Hey, Siri, turn it down.”

HomePod: “Sorry. There as a problem adjusting volume.”

This is what we used to call “Not ready for Prime Time.”

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Gnarley

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021 Alive 18,173 days

Analytics from my HomePod

Today I learned that not only does my HomePod run Apple TVOS, its firmware has a “Bogus Field Not Actually Ever Used,” and a “Bogus Measure Not Actually Ever Used.”

The use of “bogus” confirms the “Designed in California” label.

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Busted bars

Thursday, January 21st, 2021 Alive 18,167 days

DoorDashʼs web site asking the impossible

Sure wish I could order Dairy Queen through DoorDash, like the web site says I can.

But DoorDashʼs web site insists that I pick a size for a box of Buster Bars, which only come in one size.

I wonder how many other sales Dairy Queen has lost because of DoorDash.

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Broken apple

Saturday, January 16th, 2021 Alive 18,162 days

An error message from Appleʼs web site

It looks like I broke Apple again.

Can someone turn Apple off, then turn it on again?

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It all makes sense now

Sunday, January 3rd, 2021 Alive 18,149 days

A slightly mangled New York Times

Due to a printing error, someone somewhere is missing the first two letters from page 30 of todayʼs New York Times.

Theyʼre “F” and “o.”

Youʼre welcome.

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Sunday, January 3rd, 2021 Alive 18,149 days

Amazon Fresh, out of everything

Dear Amazon Fresh,

Why do you always show me what you donʼt have, rather than what you do have?

Iʼm not impressed by your selection if I canʼt buy anything. Youʼre just demonstrating the weakness of your supply chain.

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Massive fail

Sunday, December 20th, 2020 Alive 18,135 days

I tried to watch mass from Saint Patrickʼs Cathedral in New York today. Itʼs on YouTube.

Google put 6½ minutes of ads at the front, plus sixteen commercial breaks inside the 50-minute mass. Thereʼs an illustration of how greedy Google and the rest of Silicon Valley is.

Next time Iʼll listen to it on the radio.

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Growth opportunity

Sunday, December 20th, 2020 Alive 18,135 days

Dear MiracleGro,

If you wonder why your ad in the New York Times didnʼt result in many sales, itʼs probably because people were put off by the three pop-ups you forced on them when they scanned your QR code.

You must not need customers.

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Saturday, December 19th, 2020 Alive 18,134 days

Amazon Fresh failing at search

“Search is hard,” the tech bubble constantly says.

Itʼs not this hard.

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Saturday, December 5th, 2020 Alive 18,120 days

A screenshot of Appleʼs Home app

How does Appleʼs Home app not have a Christmas tree icon?

That seems like a pretty basic thing for a remote-controlled light switch.

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It is The Onion

Monday, November 30th, 2020 Alive 18,115 days

A screenshot from The Onion's web site

Well, hereʼs a new DGPR fail. Not only can I not decline to be tracked by The Onion, I canʼt even accept to be tracked because the Accept button doesnʼt work.

Maybe this is some kind of subtle humor.

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Blue mold

Thursday, November 26th, 2020 Alive 18,111 days

Runny Jell-O

Darcie: “You made a Jell-O mold?”

Me: “Yep!”

Darcie: “What flavor?”

Me: “Raspberry failure!”

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Oh, nuts

Thursday, November 26th, 2020 Alive 18,111 days

A nutmeg splooted in an unbaked pumpkin pie

Grating fresh nutmeg on the pumpkin pie before baking it seemed like a good idea, until the nut fell in.

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Well, it was made by monkeys

Wednesday, November 25th, 2020 Alive 18,110 days

A screenshot of MailChimpʼs broken survey

Kinda hard to fill out MailChimpʼs usability survey when the survey is unusable on mobile.

Thereʼs no way to submit the answers.

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Sunday, November 15th, 2020 Alive 18,100 days

An error message from Facebook

Facebook claims to have the “smartest people in the room” working for it.

If Facebook canʼt keep its web site working, what chance do I have?

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Monday, November 9th, 2020 Alive 18,094 days

Diptyqueʼs 404 page

After enduring four pop-ups, I click on “Gifts” and get a 404 error. Good job, Diptyque. It looks like the marketing department runs the web site, not IT.

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Sunday, November 8th, 2020 Alive 18,093 days

A screenshot of a bunch of pop-ups obscuring a web site

I wonder what kind off things Made In New Mexico sells. I guess Iʼll never know since the products are hidden behind six pop-ups.

So I bought elsewhere.

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Thursday, November 5th, 2020 Alive 18,090 days

A Whole Foods error message

If Amazon.com canʼt keep Whole Foods running, what chance do I have?

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Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020 Alive 18,088 days

The cable is out. Itʼs not like thereʼs a presidential election going on and I might want to watch CNN or anything.

Good thing I also have an over-the-air antenna. CBS News, here I come.

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Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020 Alive 18,088 days

An error message from eBay

If fleaBay canʼt keep its web site up, what chance do I have?

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Monday, November 2nd, 2020 Alive 18,087 days

An error message from eBay

There is simply no way to opt-out of #spam from fleaBay.

If it canʼt handle something as simple as e-mail subscriptions, why would I trust it with money?

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I know you are, but what am I?

Friday, October 2nd, 2020 Alive 18,056 days

Me: “Hey, Siri put ‘Cut lawn’ on my ‘Outside’ list.”

Siri: “You donʼt have an ‘Outside’ list. Do you want me to create one?”

Me: “Yes.”

Siri: “You donʼt have an ‘Outside’ list. Do you want me to create one?”

Me: “Yes.”

Siri: “You donʼt have an ‘Outside’ list. Do you want me to create one?”

Me: “Yes.”

Iʼm tired of tech bullshit that never works. Iʼm going back to lists on paper. It Just Works™

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Teeth-grating

Friday, October 2nd, 2020 Alive 18,056 days

Me: “Hey, Siri, put ‘toothpaste’ on my ‘Shopping’ list.”

Siri: “Youʼll have to unlock your iPhone first.”

If I was near my iPhone, Iʼd just put toothpaste on the list myself.

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But Tim Cooks needs a third boat

Sunday, September 13th, 2020 Alive 18,037 days

iPhone spam from Apple

It is against Appleʼs App Store rules to use notifications for advertising.

Apparently, Apple has exempted itself from those rules.

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OK, Pal

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020 Alive 18,005 days

An error message from PayPal

If PayPal canʼt handle running a web site, how can I trust it with my money?

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A small request

Sunday, June 28th, 2020 Alive 17,960 days

An impossibly small font in Apple Maps

Why do so many Apple programs use five-pixel-tall fonts? Who thinks these are a good idea? Even back in Commodore 64 days, we knew that nobody could read a five pixel font.

You donʼt have to be visually impaired, elderly, or even drunk for these to be completely unreadable on a computer screen.

For all the puffery that comes out of Apple about accessibility and inclusiveness, this has to stop.

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Information overload

Thursday, June 18th, 2020 Alive 17,950 days

Overlapping information in Appleʼs Mail program

Two mistakes on the same iOS Mail screen.

If only Apple had a trillion or so dollars to put into quality control.

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Wording be hard

Saturday, June 6th, 2020 Alive 17,938 days

Bad grammar from macOS Safari

Itʼs “downloads from,” not “downloads on.”

Youʼre a trillion-dollar company, not a startup, Apple. You donʼt get a pass on basic grammar.

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Fails to deliver

Wednesday, May 27th, 2020 Alive 17,928 days

Part of an e-mail from the U.S. Postal Service with no way to respond

How do you keep your customer follow-ups down and your “satisfaction” metrics up? By not giving people a way to contact you!

If people canʼt complain, thereʼs no complaints, right? It works for the U.S. Postal Service.

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Your slip is showing

Thursday, May 14th, 2020 Alive 17,915 days

A Grace Digital web page leaking JavaScript all over the place

Looks like someone at Grace Digital applied strip_tags() in a location where marketing wanted to track some people with JavaScript.

ProTip: You donʼt need JavaScript to keep track of your customers.

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Monday, April 20th, 2020 Alive 17,891 days

Error messages from both Chase and Citibank

If both Chase and Citibankʼs web sites can be borked at the same time, what chance do I have?

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Sending a message

Monday, February 24th, 2020 Alive 17,835 days

A malformed progress box in iTunes

If Apple canʼt make its programs work, what chance do I… oh, wait. Itʼs iTunes. This is probably an improvement.

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Thursday, February 20th, 2020 Alive 17,831 days

The iOS spell checked flagging the spelling of “Van Buren”

The iOS spell checker doesnʼt know the name of the eighth president of the United States.

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Lowered genius bar

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020 Alive 17,794 days

I happened to be in an Apple Store when an iPhone training session was going on.

The “Genius” told his audience that 1080p means “A thousand pixels per square inch,” and that 4K means “four times as many!”

Ummm… no.

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Should have listened to the Fiat GPS

Monday, October 21st, 2019 Alive 17,709 days

A dirt road across the Nevada desert

Dear Apple Maps,

This is not State Highway 87.

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Neither

Sunday, September 15th, 2019 Alive 17,673 days

An empty, sealed can of Vanilla Coke Zero

My case of Vanilla Coke Zero came with an empty, yet completely sealed can in it.

Is that good luck, or a bad omen?

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Saturday, September 14th, 2019 Alive 17,672 days

An error message on the Chewy web site

I hate to buy cat food from Amazon.com, but I donʼt have much of a choice since Chewyʼs web site has been borked for half an hour now.

If Chewy canʼt keep a web site running, what chance do I have?

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Sunday, September 1st, 2019 Alive 17,659 days

It turns out that Tide Dry Cleaners canʼt handle the Apple Card via Apple Pay.

The card terminal says “Approved,” but the POS system rejects it immediately after.

The physical card works OK. And other cards work fine via Apple Pay. Itʼs just the Apple Card that is giving it fits.

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It can taste titanium?

Sunday, August 25th, 2019 Alive 17,652 days

Today I learned that Albertsons supermarkets wonʼt accept the Apple Card via Apple Pay.

Using other cards via Apple Pay works fine, but Albertsonsʼ POS system throws an error with the Apple Card. “This type of card is not accepted.”

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Is cash legible?

Saturday, August 24th, 2019 Alive 17,651 days

An error message from the parking machine at McCarren International Airport

It turns out that the parking payment machines at the Las Vegas airport canʼt handle Apple Cards at all.

Thereʼs no NFC option, and the physical card is rejected with an “Illegible card” error.

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Wednesday, August 21st, 2019 Alive 17,648 days

An error message from the New York Times app

The New York Timesʼ 500 page is 404.

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I was fooled

Sunday, July 21st, 2019 Alive 17,617 days

A perfectly ordinary pine tree

Nope, thatʼs not a cell tower. Itʼs totally a tree. In the middle of the desert. 200 miles from the next nearest tree. Totally believable.

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Thatʼs why the chairs suck now

Sunday, June 16th, 2019 Alive 17,582 days

Remember when Starbucks used to pride itself on its carefully curated selection of music?

Now itʼs like playing crap is its latest way to keep people from relaxing in-store, and to just hand over their money at the drive through.

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Friday, June 14th, 2019 Alive 17,580 days

A botched login screen from iRobot

iRobot is so laser-focused on customer acquisition that its web site gives me two ways to create an account, and zero ways to log in to the account I already have.

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Monday, February 18th, 2019 Alive 17,464 days

The Wikipedia entry for “Teletype”

How much knowledge has been lost thanks to the “information age?”

The entry for “Teletype” in Wikipedia is just 2 paragraphs.

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For just a dollar a day…

Friday, February 15th, 2019 Alive 17,461 days

An error message from the Citibank web site

We only gave Citibank $326,000,000,000.00 in taxpayer money for its bailout. Maybe if we all chip in a little more, Citi can fix its web site.

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A stand-up gal

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019 Alive 17,459 days

A bad Amazon.com search

I searched Amazon.com for “easel.”

One of these things is not like the others.

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Off Target

Saturday, February 2nd, 2019 Alive 17,448 days

I mostly stopped shopping at Target a while ago because it hardly ever has anything in stock.

I tried again today. No change.

It canʼt even stock the most basic of basics: eggs, sugar, flour, and cooking oil.

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Friday, December 21st, 2018 Alive 17,405 days

A malfunctioning SiriusXM radio

Iʼm not sure whatʼs happening here. But I am sure itʼs not supposed to happen.

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Friday, December 7th, 2018 Alive 17,391 days

A damaged package

Not to be outdone by the Amazon delivery guys who throw my packages over the gate, UPS appears to have actually run over my wifeʼs Christmas present before handing it over to the Postal Service for the last-mile delivery.

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Saturday, November 24th, 2018 Alive 17,378 days

Remember when we could balance our finances without a computer?

You know — before technology made everything "easier?"

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Friday, November 23rd, 2018 Alive 17,377 days

An administative login screen on the Smashing Pumpkins web site

This is what happens when you try to view the privacy policy and terms of service on the Smashing Pumpkins web store.

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Saturday, November 10th, 2018 Alive 17,364 days

AT&T telling me to wait

“Give us a moment” has been spinning in my browser for three hours.

I guess AT&Tʼs web site is connected through the ever-reliable AT&T network.

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Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018 Alive 17,326 days

An error message from Uber

Every time I try to give Uber a chance, I end up taking a Lyft.

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Monday, September 24th, 2018 Alive 17,317 days

A six-pixel-tall font in Apple News

I love Apple News on the iPhone, but on macOS, it uses a six-pixel-tall font. And most headlines are just ten pixels tall, with no way to scale them.

Itʼs unusable by anyone past puberty.

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Thursday, September 20th, 2018 Alive 17,313 days

My carʼs warranty expired September 4.

Itʼs now September 20, and the car needs $600 worth of repairs that would have been covered.

Yet another reason Iʼll never buy another Fiat.

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Friday, September 7th, 2018 Alive 17,300 days

A malformed web page from NV Energy

I guess “bang” is one way for an electric company to get my attention.

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Definitely number two

Thursday, April 14th, 2016 Alive 16,424 days

ウイーナ♡

The nice lady at the maid café wrote “ウイーナ♡” on the cheki we took of ourselves.

According to Google Translate, that's Japanese for “Weena.” I guess that means one of the following:

  1. She thinks Iʼm a winner.
  2. She thinks Iʼm a wiener.
  3. Google Translate is bad at translation.
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