austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

A real nowhere man

I don't mind not existing, but only at my convenience. My being was called into question because I tried the absurd ritual of filling out tax forms (I'll explain why it's absurd later), requiring I penetrate the staff services web site to get my income report. This site ``supports'' Mac users, by which they mean it ``allows Mac users access to everything except things that are not the System Message of the Day.'' My report was in there, somewhere, behind many pages warning I do not have authorization to view this page, unless I click return a couple times, if the page doesn't stall.

However! They added a new barrier for financial data, wherein one, having logged in to the computer, and the staff web site, must log in again, from the account their records say is one's user ID. Now, remember that duplicate account I discovered a few months ago, that I never heard of, used, nor had a password for, which they were deleting? Guess what never-deleted account they figured was my user ID. Based on my actual user ID, they concluded I did not exist. I pressed the issue (on the side of ``do'') and after a few hours they changed their record and promised to delete the useless account, this time for sure.

As a final user interface catastrophe, the PDF of the income report can be viewed only from inside a tiny Java applet viewer embedded in the web page. It's locked in a window inside a window inside a window, with three horizontal and vertical scroll bars and no way of getting the file out except printing. Good one, guys. Apparently working like every other web site ever in existence was too much trouble. The feedback surveys report everyone who's used the system hates it.

Trivia: On its first spaceflight the orbiter Columbia lost 16 thermal protection system tiles, and another 148 were damaged. Source: Space Shuttle: The History of the National Space Transportation System: The First 100 Missions Dennis R Jenkins.

Currently Reading: Asimov's New Guide to Science, Isaac Asimov.

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