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A joyous way to start the day. Huzzah!

By Allan Richardson

I was attempting to complete an online appointment request form for a non-urgent plumbing job.

I filled in all the contact details, except for the phone number, the format being:

Prefilled country code field: +61. Tick.

(###) ### ####. Hmm.

Do people still have landlines? Not really, though this format started disappearing in 1994 and was totally gone by 1997.

The rest of the website’s functionality was schmick. The world’s first ever website appeared in 1991, so chronology dictates it’s older than the plumber that I’d used previously.

So, donning my lateral thinking cap, and noticing that the postcode field was missing, and that I’d had no difficulty with this page previously, I concluded that their website had been:

Triumphant trumpet fanfare …

*** UPGRADED ***

And the 11yo interning technician may have had a few too many red cordials and inadvertently added a digit field; one too many for a mobile format. And the software clearly expected the phone fields to be completed before accepting SUBMIT. A dead end for me …

I rang and spoke to a nice woman, surprisingly chatty at 07:40, who was surprised, but not dismissive of my issue on the phone. I don’t sound like a doddery git in his 80th year apparently lol Video OFF!

Now for the Samaritanisation; they can’t do my job, but I had a job only half completed myself, so I opened their site once more. Then I had to re-enter all my details, and a message describing what I was doing, and that I’d added a zero to my phone number, and voila! SUBMITTED!

‘Oops, I accidentally deleted the postcode field. Hang on, I’ll ju… OK, coming, mum!’.

As a devout 🙏 follower of the 🔱 ‘Why wouldn’t you offer a hand if you thought it might help, and you have no pressing engagements’ (better known by the catchy initialism WWYOAHIYTIMHAYHNPE (An acronym if you’re of Polish xtrykzyn)) lifestyle choice, though probably tagged as a meddling fucking opinionated interfering old git (who’s impervious to your barbs, you beardless whelp, you whipper-snapper!).


If confronted by precocious technokinder, learn the following patter:

‘I’m not really up to date with these basic wee computers. My expertise is in supercomputers, mostly designed by Seymour Cray (no, not one of the brothers, so don’t worry about a surprise kickin’). These developed hundreds of Petaflops using pipeline burst technology and needing Nitrogen cooling. One Petaflop, as any professional like yourself would know, but just to refresh your memory, is one quadrillion floating-point operations per second. Or a thousand Teraflops. Or a million Gigaflops. Or a billion Megaflops. Or … What’s that? I’ll let you get back to your little hobby. Sorry, chore’.


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  1. Pete Petrass

    It has been my unfortunate experience that every time a website is updated…………it is worse.

  2. Ankisip

    After being chastised for using Win 3.11 to do my invoicing, by a friend who insisted Win 95 was superior by a country mile, I called in to his home to see this miracle operating system.

    I would have had a weeks worth of invoicing done before the system loaded up to the Home Screen.

    Allan, Pete, it’s not just web sites is it?
    Every gadget that uses software is subjected to the same issues.

  3. Fred

    Being a retired computer dinosaur having started out repairing machines with 16K core memory, Teletype, paper tape reader, 19″ rack mount 2.5 MByte hard disks or drum memory and coding in assembler, I am continually gobsmacked by the bad, bloated code currently produced. Back in the day, most coding effort was spent dealing with things that could go wrong rather than the “sunny day” path through the code.

    It feels like the word “test” only applies to “cricket” in vocabulary of most programmers. Microsoft now requires at least 64GB disk to install an operating system. That is bonkers – not much code optimisation going on. Their “media player” often doesn’t. When they change their OS they are quite happy to drop support for a range of peripherals making the hardware obsolete even though it is fully functional. We need AI because the programmers are continual redefining the lowest point.

  4. Canguro

    Fred, I knew a bloke who’d had a career in the RAN as both a software and hardware engineer; he was undoubtedly one of their most brilliant & brightest… a kind of savant… and after retirement started up an IT company in the ACT. Given his fluency with many programming languages and their interface with hardware – he was a weapons system designer amongst other things – he was, unsurprisingly, scathing in his criticism of Microsoft OS code; as you say, bloated, junk code, unprofessional, inelegant, inefficient.

    He also observed that during his naval career there was a time, in the beginning as it were, when the RAN paid $1M per megabyte of memory!

  5. wam

    a product of age?
    I have the cheapest mobile for family contact only and my outside contact is a landline. Unfortunately when going on holiday I disabled the phone and hid the parts so well that I am unable to find them.
    I saw a black phone and thought that will do but the price was $120.
    Remember 40 years ago you went to get a dog licence? The clerk took your name and gave you it, you paid and left. Now the clerk’s fingers fly to interminable clacking and you cannot use cash.
    Remember 40 years ago you were owner of your personal details? Now the machine is in control and will be believed by all.
    Imagine when the machine has all of the keys and no door can be opened by the human guard, are we there yet?

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