Stupid things to say: “Point your favorite browser to…”

I received an email today from Microsoft, “Introducing MSDN Online Subscriptions!” Very exciting for sure; I had no idea this is something new, as I’ve been downloading things from my MSDN subscription for years. But I digress. The “stupid thing to say” in this email is:

Point your favorite browser to http://msdn2.microsoft.com/subscriptions

Do you expect people to choose their least favorite browser? Or any browser other than their favorite? Or, does it even matter? Why even bother adding those words — why not just say, “Go to http://msdn2.microsoft.com/subscriptions“. This is an MSDN subscription e-mail; the users are likely to know what you mean.

To digress again… my subscription expired months ago. Why are they telling me to update my subscription to online only — shouldn’t they be trying to get me to create a new subscription? Oddly, the email includes my old (expired) MSDN subscriber number, which is meaningless as I can’t use it or renew it.

Try to order FIOS for Business online (really, try!)

On Monday, I’ll be back in the role of an independent consultant, so I’m upgrading services in my office so I can work efficiently. One thing I want to do is upgrade from a plain old DSL line to a business FIOS line. I have FIOS at home and I’m very happy with it, so it’s time for FIOS at work.

I went to Verizon’s web site and started the online ordering process for FIOS. I got to the page where I can pick my router, and clicked the NEXT button. Sorry, no can do; the button uses JavaScript, and the code has an error in it, so you can’t go any further.

JavaScript errors when ordering Verizon FIOS online

Maybe it’s an issue between the web site and Firefox. After all, we can’t assume that Verizon’s web programmers would support all web browsers, so I tried the same with IE7.

Server errors when ordering Verizon FIOS online How did things fare with IE7? Worse. Click the order button on Verizon’s Packages and Prices page, and get a nice ASP.Net script error.

I don’t know what’s scarier: the inability to submit an order form using Firefox, the inability to start an order form using Internet Explorer, or the fact that they don’t have custom ASP.Net error pages.

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Verizon, where’s the customer service?

When I got home last night, I found out that I have no phone service. I did the usual — unplugged all phones, made sure everything was on the hook, checked for a dial tone using an old analog phone — and there was still no dial tone. Calling my home phone number from a cell phone resulted in ring, ring, ring… Time to call Verizon support.

After a few misdirections through the automated call screening process, I finally spoke to a human being who was able to resolve the problem. I was told a technician would come out between 2PM and 6PM the next day to troubleshoot.

The next day (which is the day I’m writing this), I received a voice mail message at a little before 2PM. It was an automated message that said something akin to this…

Hello, George… We are confirming your appointment today between 2PM and 6PM at xxyy Carlton Blvd…

Two things concerned me about this message. First, my name is Brian, not George. Second, I don’t live on Carlton Blvd (which is a block away from where I live). Sensing problems, I called Verizon to get some clarification. Continue reading

Dvorak, ye shalt not throw stones

PC Magazine author John C. Dvorak, whose work I enjoy thoroughly, threw the proverbial boomerang stone today in his column AJAX and the Road to Bad Web Sites, where he criticized a web site:

Holy crap! The Web site usctrojans.cstv.com is far worse than the football team. I’m not sure what they are hoping to accomplish with a site like this, but if you want to see the site at its worst, use Firefox and make the text two sizes bigger by hitting Ctrl+ twice. That way you can see the problem with Web sites that use AJAX.

Dvorak is correct in his statement, and his statement came right back to haunt him. Compare the two images below. The first is a screenshot of his column as viewed without any font size changes; the second is a screenshot of his column after hitting Ctrl+ twice to increase font size.

Screenshot of Dvorak's column (normal font size)
Screenshot of Dvorak’s column (normal font size)
Screenshot of Dvorak's column (large font size)
Screenshot of Dvorak’s column (large font size)


I know how important advertising is to PC Magazine, but increasing the font size caused the ad to appear twice, and covered some of the text of the article. Let’s hope their web designers read Dvorak’s article, too.

Make your web site accessibile, else the courts will force you

It was bound to happen eventually…

SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A federal district court judge issued two landmark decisions today in a nationwide class action against Target Corporation. First, the court certified the case as a class action on behalf of blind Internet users throughout the country under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Second, the court held that Web sites such as target.com are required by California law to be accessible. (read more)

What makes the site not accessible? Apparently, the lack of ALT tags.

Continue reading

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