October 25, 2010

Lazy Programmers, Installment 315

So, during a brief engagement with ING Direct's web site I receive the following error message:
 It was complaining because a) I had used a one-digit form for the month (i.e. 9/19/2010 rather than 09/19/2010), and b) because I had just entered the telephone numbers, as is my wont, as ten-digit strings.

What I want to know is, is there any user-centered QA in effect on this site? Who exactly decreed that dates had to be entered in that inflexible format? Who reviewed the stupid decision to require that specific format for telephone numbers, when it's actually much easier to simply throw away anything that isn't a digit, store that and then format numbers when they are printed? Finally, does anyone at ING care how much trouble they put their users to?

See, I've been in the business long enough to remember the days when computers were there to make things easier for user-type people, not for the programmers. This is clearly a lost approach, one sees so many ridiculous requirements such as the above.

October 24, 2010

What Do We Tell the Government?

This coming Thursday I am speaking at GOSCON, a conference organized with the specific intentions of informing governmental IT users about open source. Most of the speakers will be from the government side if the last such event I attended is typical, so I am giving a talk called No Free Lunch. The idea is to suggest ways that government can maximize the benefits of using open source, and provide open source teams with resources that will enable us to increase production, so this isn't just a talk for the Python Software Foundation - I want to represent a wider community if I can.

Twitter friends have already provided some useful ideas, but I will be happy to weave more in there if you can provide them. So, what would you like to see government (which in this context is principally the executive branch, but I am happy to include points for the legislative and judicial branches if you have them) doing for open source?