My good friend Andrew Lizzio snapped this image for me on a highway turnoff just south of Cairns…Nice to know he was thinking of me on his holidays!!
The data pack I used while I was away was terrific compared to the dialup I used to use. But you’ll see that there were some usability issues with the messaging provided by Telstra on my usage of the megabyte allowance.
It turns out that it also had a spill over effect on billing, meaning that if I had bought the data pack at any other time during the billing cycle than on the start date, I risked being charged excess usage fees. Read on for why this happened and the argy bargy I had to go through…
I was in Toowoomba on Friday and came across this pedestrian crossing…
When you take a closer look, you’ll see that there are no less than 8 signs posted on the left and right and front and back of the crossing advising that ‘Beware – Pedestrians give way to vehicles’.
The crossing has special tiles distinguishing it from the asphalt, which, in Australia, generally means some kind of shared zone between cars and pedestrians where pedestrians usually have right of way.
Is it just me, or would it have been easier to make it a shared zone, where cars must give way (as is the norm)? Clearly, the signs were put up for pedestrian safety. I would think that complying with a standard would be more likely to preserve pedestrian safety.
The crossing should have been a shared zone with pedestrians having right of way – like it is everywhere else.
I bought a 500MB datapack for my Next-G account so I could use my handset as a wireless modem while in regional Australia. Imagine my surprise when I got this message from Telstra after 3 days of use:
You have used 80% of your 512000kB included data. Call Telstra on 125111 to upgrade to a data plan with higher MBytes allowance. This is a free text message.
Being pretty good at maths, I knew that after 3 days of usage at around 50-75kbps (Next-G is good in regional areas, but nothing like the 1-2Mbps in metropolitan areas) and the times I had used it that I had probably used 70 – 80MB of data, I knew it was nearly impossible to have used that much data.
I phoned up Telstra, probably costing them the phone call rates and the time of the call centre rep – probably about $10 – $15 (of my money as a shareholder!!). It turns out that I bought the data plan a few days prior to my billing cycle. So Telstra software calculated the pro-rata allowance and determined that in that time i had used 80% of about 20% of the data plan and then sent the text message.
If only they had created a tailored message.
If only they had not done a pro-rata calculation and instead treated the data plan as having its own billing cycle.
No need to make a call. No need to wonder where all the data went. No need to waste my time.
Of course, I suggested to the call centre rep that a change may be warranted. I won’t be holding my breath for that.
A few days later, I got another text message letting me know I had used 108% of my allowance.
No why wouldn’t they text me before I go over the limit? Why wouldn’t they shape my connection speed to avoid the excess charges? I know the error message is wrong in my case – but it’s certainly right for other people.
The third post today on usabirritations!!! You can tell I had a bit of a backlog. There’s more to come, but I’ll leave them for another day.
In this screenshot:
You can see I was trying to access a short cut to Documents and Settings. The screenshot shows the error message I got.
What was actually happening? Inspecting the properties for the shortcut showed the following:
Can you see what the problem is? It took me a while to figure it out, but the shortcut actually has no target (folder)!!
Again, the poor error message made it confusing to workout what was going on. If you scan back to it, there are actually three different error messages. The first says the location is not ‘available’ (in the title bar). The second says it is not ‘accessible’. And the third says ‘access is denied’, implying a permission error.
Clearly, the error message should have said that the shortcut has no target, which would correspond to the empty field in the properties panel for the shortcut. The error dialog should also have given me the option to edit or search for the target.
However, the best solution would be for Vista not to have included a shortcut with no target in the first place.
While creating a new folder, I got this error message:
What was I doing? Can you guess? The error message says I have no permission to perform ‘this’ action. What was the action? Simply creating a new folder.
First of all I though there was some problem with Vista Offline files such that I could not create a new folder if I wasn’t connected to the network (sometimes this happened to me under Windows XP).
After making four more attempts to create the folder, by clicking ‘Try Again’ (completely inane since the permission is unlikely to change between this error message coming up and me pressing ‘Try Again’) and by cancelling the action and attempting to create the folder again.
I then discovered the folder name I wanted already existed!! Boy, was I irritated.
The error message should have:
- Been correct in the first place
And if it was correct:
- Tell me what level of permission I needed and / or to login with an Administrator level account.
- offer to open the user account control panel so I could change the permission level of my account
This is the first post of many that will feature poor usability and /or poor user interface design. They’ll often be minor things, but as the category name of these posts suggests, they are irritations.
First up is this error message:
Can you guess the first thing I did when I saw this error message? I’ll bet it was the same thing you would do – check the C: drive to make sure there’s enough space. there was ‘only’ 2GB free – so I figured it was enough. Naturally, I then checked permissions on the temp folder in the Windows directory. Sure enough, all permissions were enabled for my user account (which, by the way, is of the type Administrator).
It turns out that when Vista’s User Account Control is turned off, this is the error message you get. Not very helpful when the actual solution is completely unrelated to free space or permissions on the Temp folder.
The error message should have:
- Been correct in the first place
Aand if it was correct, then:
- Tell me how much free space is needed
- Tell me where the Temp folder is located and what level of permissions is required, or to log in with an Administrator or equivalent account
I’ve encountered a number of issues with Vista’s User Account Control that I’ll cover in further posts.
If you find any ‘confusable’ things, let me know…