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davorg (18)

Yahoo! ID: daveorguk (Add User, Send Message)

Hacker, author, trainer

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Journal of davorg (18)

Monday November 05, 2001
05:35 AM

Why Computers Are Bad

[ #1171 ]

This weekend I have been mostly railing against computers and how they are destroying customer service.

Let me explain.

My step-daughter's mobile phone is on my account. On Saturday she called me to say that she had lost the phone. I call Orange to arrange a replacement. They say that because the phone is out of guarantee I'll need to pay for a new one, so perhaps I should use this as an excuse for an upgrade. I agree and call her back asking her to let me know which new phone she wants. She chooses the Nokia 3330.

When I call Orange to tell them this they tell me that because the phone is on a subsidised tariff we can't have that phone. As it happens we've been considering changing her tariff anyway as a more expensive tariff could well work out cheaper for us because calls would be cheaper (have you seen a teenage girl with a mobile phone!) so I agree to the change.

They then tell me that the tariff change won't happen until our next billing cycle which starts on November 12th. They then tell me that they won't be able to take the order for the new phone until that date. This is where I have a problem with with computer systems. In ye olde dayes, the jolly merchant would have said "you've been a good customer, sir davorg, so I'm sure we can make an exception for you. We'll just take the order a week early and the phone will be with you in two days." In these "enlightened" days it doesn't work like that. The computer system that Orange use to place orders has all of the business rules built into it. One one of those rules says that I can't order the phone until after the tariff has been changed. And although I've already asked for the tariff change, it won't actually take place until next Monday. So there is no way that the order can be placed until then.

Leaving my stepdaughter without a phone for ten days. And if you know anything about teenage girls, you'll know that this is akin to having one of your arms removed.

So. Technology sucks!

I've released another NMS script. This one is Simple Search. There's only WWWBoard to go now. I've got a working version of that ready, but I want to do more work on splitting the HTML aways from the code before releasing it. As always, NMS is at

Oh, and if anyone's interested in genealogy, you might take a look at webged. It's a script for creating web pages from GEDCOM files. It's a (pretty radical) fork from Skud's insect project.

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  • Genealogy seems one of the few areas in which Perl hasn't made much of an impact. I only know of the Gedcom module. I've used this in conjunction with Tk to make a Gedcom "viewer" - pretty crappy early code of mine and could do with a more structured rewrite. You can have a copy if interested.

    My other use of Perl in genealogy is to take a descendency narrative in ASCII (produced by TMG), reformat and add LaTeX formatting commands. I can then turn this into PS/PDF for printing, or run it through LaTeX2ht