Archive for August, 2004

8/4/2004: 11:00 pm: Software

The Buy.com website is officially lame. If I hadn’t found the video cables I needed for 25% cheaper than at Amazon, I would never have tried to purchase anything there. The Amazon site is ten times better in virtually every way, and is often not much more expensive. Just not this time.

Not only is the Buy.com visually unattractive, it’s poorly programmed. While searching for something, I got an error page indicating an OLE DB error occurred while a script was accessing a SQL Server database. While I happen to know what that means, most people don’t and they shouldn’t have to. Displaying that error message is going to scare a lot of shoppers away. It should have scared me away. But, I can be cheap when shopping online, so I forged on. Later, while trying to checkout, I got a page with the following error message:

Active Server Pages error 'ASP 0113'

Script timed out

/corp/basket/address_book.asp

The maximum amount of time for a script to execute was exceeded. You can change this limit by specifying a new value for the property Server.ScriptTimeout or by changing the value in the IIS administration tools.

Never, ever, ever, should a customer at your website see a page telling the IT staff how to adjust a timeout setting on the web server.

Clearly, this was a sign to back away from the browser, navigate over to Amazon, and just pay the extra money. But, no. I wanted to see if the Buy.com website would actually catch fire and burn to the ground. Three tries later, it still times out when I try to give them my credit card number. I’m trying to give them money, and they effectively say, “Wait a couple minutes, … just a second more, …, please wait while I’m accessing my systems, .. . hold on, … here we go, …, please read this cryptic error message and then try again later.”

Three strikes, you’re out, and I won’t be back.

8/3/2004: 12:04 am: Arts and Education

Tim Bray recently wrote a fine review of Cabinet magazine, A Quarterly Magazine of Art and Culture. I first learned of Cabinet about a year ago when a link from the Cabinet site kept showing up in my website referer log.

A couple paragraphs down on that page, you will find the following text:

Cabinet does not run reviews or news items about forthcoming events. There are excellent venues that do so (These excellent venues are often glossy and offer enormous writers’ fees. Follow this link to visit the best of them).

The PHP page linked to by the text “this link” redirects you to a rather special page on my website. This special page contains quite possibly the finest piece of prose that I have ever managed to emit. I’m not sure how they found it or whether they think my epic essay is funny or pathetic, but I was greatly amused when I read the surrounding text on their website. Follow this link to get to that link.


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