Archive for March, 2006

Website oversight on LinkedIn

Friday, March 31st, 2006

So I’m enjoying LinkedIn and it is a great way to keep in touch with some of the folks I have been in infrequent contact with. However, there’s one small niggle when inviting people… you can’t choose the source email address. I loved it when they added additonal emails, since it made my account management easier. It just wasn’t thought through all the way. Some people will have a whitelist on or know about only my secondary (business) email address but not on my home (primary), and I can’t get the invitation to send with the reply email I want.

The solution is easy: let users select which email to send from as part of the invitation. One more field and bingo! you’re good.

In addition, my apologies for not posting more recently. It’s been really busy and I will be catching up soon.

Bad Banking Error

Monday, March 13th, 2006

I recently opened an account at Bank of America, using their online application. It was slow, painful, and not a process I will do again any time soon. It couldn’t reference any of my current data with them so I had to reenter all my address and other personal information. Bad customer service, even if there are good security reasons for some obstacles.

The cherry on top of my grousing sundae came at the end of the transaction. I wanted to transfer in the money to open the account from an external bank, and I wanted to put in enough money to avoid bank fees. Easy enough, put 1000 into the first box and 300 in the second, then routing number over here and bingo!

An error message. Not the error you’d expect, though…

Fund Your Accounts

There was a problem processing your request.
Some fields may have been left blank or incorrectly filled in. Please review the form to ensure that all fields are properly completed.
# The initial deposit for Standard Checking must be between 100 and 100.
# The initial deposit for Regular Savings must be between 100 and 100.

Ummm… you’re kidding, right? I can only fill in 100 for my initial deposit, not more and not less? OK, not less I understand, but you really don’t want more of my money at your bank? Isn’t that the point of the promotion that brought me to your site?

Worse, there was no such issue when I chose another initial payment method. It’s apparently a niche issue and is really bad service, as well as a QA oversight.

The punchline came when I walked into the branch to deliver my opening balance check. The account rep visibly winced as I told her a small portion of the story, and said I should come into the branch next time so they could save me time and headache. She said the system wasn’t that good.

Boy, and I thought my PR department had issues.

Windows XP crash analyst needs analyzing

Sunday, March 5th, 2006

So my laptop OS has crashed a number of times in its brief lifetime, and each time I have let the recovery program send the data back to Microsoft. Usually, this is no big deal, and I’m happy to be a good beta tester – even though I’m using Windows XP Pro, a product that shouldn’t be this buggy after service packing. However, I had an episode that shows that the user experience guys didn’t look very hard at the crash analysis/data gathering program.

I was riding BART and my machine died. I was heading through the usual screens (why does this first one default to Don’t Send? How many users will just press Enter and not care which option is used? As a software guy, at least try and increase the odds of submission…)

Crash analysis screenshot 1

Since I wasn’t online, I got the Connect First screen. No problem, I’ll send it when I get home. (again, Cancel is default?)

Crash analysis screenshot 2

I’ll just sleep the computer until I’m done with my evening event and get to an internet line……


Crash analysis screenshot 3

So I have to leave my computer powered on in the car for hours, hoping the battery holds out, because I’m too stubborn to not report the error. Why should I have this problem? I’m pretty sure the first window lets me Standby when it is active, but if I agree to report then I am in one of those little-used-lightly-tested scenarios that should never have to happen. Really, you should never even get the second screen.

How to fix this? Easy… take a page from Mozilla or Apple. They’ve had crash reporting for quite a while that summarizes the data and queues it in the background, and I’ve never had an issue with it sending later. Nothing should be so critical to communicate in this application that it can’t wait until I connect to a network.