Saturday, September 22, 2007

Worst error message this week

Alison got some bad pillowcases from Garnet Hill, and was very sad because they are cool but fell apart in the first washing. Unusual these days, and we buy from them a lot. So, she fills in, at some length, the return form, and gets this: Kanji detected? Let me count the ways this is bad:
  • It's not that obvious it's an error message. Alison was frustrated at the page recycling for no clear reason, and had to look about a bit to find the new message.
  • On recycle, the pulldown selection is lost. So I have to reselect it each time. Why? Is it secret info I wouldn't want to feed back to the browser unmasked?
  • What's broken? She could not figure it out, even basically. I surmised from working with IT guys and fixing (or failing to fix) error messaging that its very literal. "Message" at the front is the field label. So I can disregard the rest of the fields. Highlighting or otherwise clearer labelling would be nice.
  • Kanji?!?! In a word, WTF is that? I know, but really, who else does? Okay, I see the switch for "Customers in Japan" in the corner, so who reading the website in EN-US knows this? Not Alison, that's for sure.
  • Why do they care? Why can't I use any character encoding I want? There's a Japanese version of the site, so double-byte characters can be stored in their datastore. And if not, just live with "unknown character" spacers. I see this all the time from people with weird emailers.
So, I quiz a little, and find out she typed it in Word to reduce the chance of loosing it, and spell check and so on. I find (pulling the content into a text editor, a few auto-recoded characters, like hree periods turned into ellipsis and so on. Eventually, I get to the heart. Its the apostrophe. On the fourth line, "can't." The one that the browser has rendered as a single quote just fine, somehow cannot be read in by the software as the correct character, or just disregarded as unknown, so I have to meticulously edit the content. We got it sent off, but its infuriating in its pointlessness and waste of code and resources.

2 comments:

Jessica said...
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John said...

I knew what kanji characters were. But I dig your point. :-)