Yet more clueless software design

Dear Gail,

Many thanks for your invitation to ‘SkillPages’.

Unfortunately, the idiots who built this system have clearly not even done basic testing on their platform before releasing it into the wild. This seems to be par for the course these days. One would think that after all this time, people who profess to be expert software designers would at least have some clue; but then — as I’m sure you know judging by your efforts to publicise the low-level ozone problem — there are experts, and then there are egg-spurts…

If you’re not interested in the description of the problems I encountered then please feel free to click away to something more interesting, with my thanks for providing me with this opportunity to vent my spleen, and best wishes for the festive season :). I feel pretty sure anyway that only SkillPages Holdings Limited would be interested in this, but as they’re not paying me for assistance in designing their system, I can’t even be bothered to look for a ‘feedback’ link (after all, there may not even be one). And I’ve had experience in the past of having my suggestions for systems improvement ignored, or, worse, dissed: so why should I bother?

The sequence of events resulting in the problems I encountered was as follows:

  1. I received an email from the SkillPages system purporting to profer an invitation from you to join ‘SkillPages’.
  2. After a basic sanity-check to reassure myself this wasn’t a scam, I followed the ‘continue’ link in the email.
  3. I noted that the web page to which this sent me asked for personal details so as to allow me to ‘Sign Up’ — but it was served by an HTTP, not HTTPS link; ie, no ‘padlock’, and therefore, in theory at least, an ‘insecure’ connection (though that’s a rant for another day).
  4. I inserted an ‘s’ at the end of ‘http’ in the web address (so as to create a ‘secure’ connection to the website).
  5. Having already taken a diversion from the Maker’s intended sign-up route, I thought I might as well take a look around…
  6. I skimmed through the usual verbose click-thru-‘agreement’ (unusual of me, I know — most people don’t even bother to do more than click the ‘I agree’ checkbox, terms unread). Cynical me noted the line “we do not sell your personal information to third parties” and paused to wonder whether that means they reserve the right to give it away for free. Or maybe barter with other sites for personal data they’ve collected. Oh, and look, the first paragraph in section 23.1 (‘privacy, general statement’) is duplicated in full as the second paragraph, which kind of suggests that not even the folks at SkillPages Holdings Limited bothered to read through their own agreement…

    Screenshot of SkillPages T&C showing duplicated text

  7. The site seemed reasonable enough — and, who knows, it may even come in handy at some time — so I clicked on ‘Sign Up’, and skipped on through.
  8. The system told me to expect an email to verify my email address (fair enough). I checked my email, and, sure enough, there was one. I followed the link in that.
  9. Then the system reported that I had two messages. One was a ‘welcome’ message. I felt reasonably confident that the other would be your invitation, but after reading the ‘welcome’ message and deleting it, I could find no other message — even though the system was still reporting that there was another one. Duh. Screenshot from SkillPages showing conflicting information about the number of messages.
  10. Nothing for it but to follow the link in the original invite email that had sparked off this total waste of time (or give up in disgust) so, that’s what I did. The resulting page did not offer me the option to sign in to the account I had just set up (which, I would have thought, would be simple common sense, but for the fact that such stuff is in very short supply)…
  11. … it simply asked me, as before, for name and password. At this point I was intrigued to find out how the system would react, so I filled in the requested information. I was totally unsurprised to be presented with the message “Error: this email is already in use”. Even though I hadn’t provided an email address at this point. Bad cookie, I guess.
Screenshot from SkillPages website, with message 'Error: This email is already in use

An error… where there should be no error. Oh, and a sign saying ‘one last thing’ whereas it turns out we’re really on just the first of three ‘last things’, as can be seen from the tick-mark and two numbers on the top right…

Something tells me SkillPages, like all other social media wannabes, will have to do a bit better than this if they’re to compete with the inertia generated by the early birds in this field.

Oh, and if you (not you, Gail!) happen to be a free market fundamentalist whose ideology won’t allow you to accept that market inertia does in fact exist (which gives the lie to the ‘power of the free market’), I’m sure I’m not alone in thanking you for everything you’ve done in contributing to the rape of our planet to date.

Rant over 😀

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About pendantry

Phlyarologist (part-time) and pendant. Campaigner for action against anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and injustice in all its forms. Humanist, atheist, notoftenpist. Wannabe poet, writer and astronaut.
This entry was posted in Business, Capitalism, Computers and Internet, People and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Yet more clueless software design

  1. witsendnj says:

    “Oh, and if you happen to be a free market fundamentalist whose ideology won’t allow you to accept that such inertia does in fact exist, I’m sure I’m not alone in thanking you for everything you’ve done in contributing to the rape of our planet to date.” yikes that’s what came through in my email notification of this post.
    Whew!! I’m sure glad you added “(not you Gail!) ’cause I know I’ve got my hypocritical side but never really thought of myself as a rapist.

    • pendantry says:

      Sorry about that, Gail. No matter how hard I try to imagine myself in the mind of the reader, I all too often hit ‘publish’ on my articles too soon, and end up making numerous small changes — such as that one — when I give them a final read-through and realise that what I’ve actually said, as opposed to what I’ve thought I’ve said, can be misread.

      In my usenet days, I used to use the following as a .sig:

      I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

    • pendantry says:

      Ah, right:

      This year, the summit barely avoided collapse by forging a last-minute agreement that the 2015 meeting would be the one at which a global emissions reduction deal would be decided.

      Kicked into the long grass yet again. More junkets for those ‘leaders’ of ours, at our expense — not to mention the planet’s…

      Germany, for example, has moved ahead with a multi-billion euro plan to protect its coasts from rising sea levels and worsening storm surges.

      Naturally. The lunacy comes full circle: King Canute’s ghost (the real one, not one from urban myth) rides again.
      And the denier-friendly punchline to which you so astutely refer:

      Today’s computer-simulated climate models, the foundation of all UN climate negotiations, represent the “almost complete disregard for reality,” says Werner Krauss, from the Helmholtz Geesthacht Center for Materials and Coastal Research. “A world is being saved that only exists as a model.”

      Ah, that’s right, computer modelling has no basis in reality. How stupid of me to think that airplanes designed entirely on computer can actually fly. Common sense tells anyone with two brain cells to rub together that anything heavier than air will never get off the ground.

    • pendantry says:

      P.S. doing a little digging about SkillPages, I discovered this short article (from more than a year ago) about how something called Weedle became Skillpages, and would be interested to hear whether the experience of commenter #4 (‘Pat’) rings any bells with you — were you surprised to find that I had received the email that sparked off my rant here?

      If so, I would have to concur with commenter #5 in that thread — this is unethical behaviour on the part of SkillPages, given that it gives the impression that you personally endorse their service. If that’s the case, it would suggest that they’re clueless in other areas, not just software design.

      • witsendnj says:

        Exactly so (#5). I did nothing whatsoever to instruct that service to spam my email correspondants, I just got a link from someone I knew so I clicked on it. They are completely unscrupulous and despicable. I was not surprised I was mortified but then that happens a lot on the intertubes so I try not to get all worked up about it. There are far worse things to worry about.

        • pendantry says:

          Oh, agreed, there are far worse things to worry about. But I find that I have to divert my attention now and again from the dire predicament(s) in which we’re in, or I’ll go completely bonkers. Well, more so than I am already, I mean. Thanks for confirming my suspicion… and that leaves me just one more thing to do: visit SkillPages > settings > delete account… Success!

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