Check your work! 2 tales of tech cluelessness

It's become a common occurrence: Missed details that point to a lack of foresight and quality control by IT

Check your work! 2 tales of tech cluelessness

Work in IT long enough, and other people's tech mistakes start to get to you. They waste your time and energy, and they could be avoided. I’ve had a couple of annoying run-ins recently, one work-related and one personal.

That wasn't meant to be a trick question

Our accounting department balances the books for several banks, as we have multiple locations in multiple states. Many of these banks have different software for accessing business functions that are not available to personal banking customers.

One of these banks mailed out a CD loaded with a program update. Of course, when our employee tried to install the program, it required an administrator to grant approval. I was dispatched.

Arriving at the user’s PC I supplied the required password and watched the install proceed. Toward the end of the process, a dialog box popped up to state the installation had failed to complete. Our user wrote down the error message and said she would email her contact at the bank and see what they had to say.

An email came back instructing us to uninstall the program remnants, then reinstall. We did so, and it produced the same error. This time I took a screenshot of the dialog box, which also displayed the CD files in the background. Another email went out, this time with the screenshot attached.

We received a return email from their tech department stating that when the bank had reviewed the email they noticed that our CD had an extension of “.exe” after the install file, while theirs did not. Ergo, our PC must be infected!

I couldn’t believe it. An IT person who didn’t know there is a switch to “hide” extensions for known file types? My confidence in getting this program updated plummeted, and of this writing is still not resolved.

Who needs quality control?

As budgets tighten, it appears quality control is one of the first items to go in website development. More and more, I notice misspellings and programming errors on sites exposed to the world. What kind of message do you send out regarding your company by offering expired or nonworking buttons on a site?

Today I got an email from the local car dealer to confirm my appointment for the following morning. I clicked on the hyperlink embedded in the email and was taken to a Web page that contained two buttons: One to reschedule my appointment, and the other … to cancel my appointment. That was it.

I wasn’t sure how to confirm my appointment as no link was provided, so I replied to the email in the absence of other options.

A few hours later I received an email from the local convention center (a near daily occurrence) advertising the next several events. The convention center usually hosts some band that I wouldn't walk across the street to hear, so I decided to opt out of those emails.

I clicked the unsubscribe link and was taken to a page with a button to confirm that I was sure that I wanted to unsubscribe. I clicked it and was presented with a new page that said, "You will continue to receive email messages."

That is twice in one day -- wonder how many more I’ll run into before the sun sets.

I know when developing a program we can fall into a sort of tunnel vision where we visualize the user responding in only a certain manner. But whether or not you're a developer, it’s wise to recruit another set of eyes to view your work before sending it out to the world.

As IT pros, we can be more sensitive to such situations. But it’s also infuriating because there are ways to keep it from happening or at least minimizing the errors in the first place.