Thursday, September 25, 2008

Online Plumbing

I've been doing online banking and bill paying for quite a few years, so when I needed to order parts for some plumbing fixtures I just went to the manufacturers' web sites to save time. The names have been changed to protect the guilty ;-)


Ordered the part without having to register. Fine. Received an email confirmation, but it stated:

"Unfortunately, due to the fact that you chose not to register, we are unable to provide you with any follow-up information concerning your order."

Fortunately, I did receive a shipment confirmation which stated:

"The status of your order placed on 09/19/2008 has changed. Items have either shipped or been cancelled by you."

Was it shipped or cancelled? The email went on to say that order had in fact been shipped, and it provided a link to the carrier's web site that worked just fine.


This site required me to register, fine. They provided a handy set of drop-down lists like kitchen / bath, lever style, etc. that helped me quickly locate my faucet, and identify & order the part. Great feature, because I had no idea what model number I had.

Received the confirmation email with a link to review the status of my order. Clicked the link, had to review & accept my registration data, clicked Submit and got "you are not logged in" so I did it again, this time it worked. There was a link "click the order number" which worked, but the order status page had a tracking number that said "Click Tracking Number for tracking information" but it was not a hyperlink. oops.

Received the shipping confirmation email with two links:

"To track your package you can click on the link(s) below:" but that link took me to the carrier's site for a package that was shipped & delivered to Wakefield MA in June 2007 (my order should be going to Phoenix AZ in September 2008). oops.

"If you would like to check the status of your order, log on to:" but that link took me to a page that stated "[M---'s] web site has undergone a major redesign. Links and/or bookmarks based on the prior design may point to pages which no longer exist." oops.

I then returned to the vendor's web site, logged in (again) and checked the order status, apparently it really has been shipped but the tracking number link points to the Wakefield shipment.

Oh well.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Legacy systems, part II

In a previous post, I made a comment regarding the NASA mission to Pluto that "there are no service packs in outer space" but I was wrong - check this out from just two weeks ago...

'Brain Transplant' Successful as Checkout Continues

"The first major order of business in New Horizons’ second annual checkout was accomplished as planned, as operators uploaded an upgraded version of the software that runs the spacecraft’s Command and Data Handling system."

and get this:

"New Horizons is more than 200 million miles beyond Saturn’s orbit and more than 11 astronomical units (1.02 billion miles) from the Sun, flying about a million miles per day toward Pluto..."

I still think NASA's engineers are amazing.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Vista vs XP

The technical press seems to be really pushing for the adoption of Vista. A frequent comment is that migration to Vista, although slow, is not unlike the slow migration from Windows 2000 to XP.

Just wait a minute there...

When XP came out, Win 2K was a mere two years old. The business migration from NT to 2K was a major effort since it often included moving to Windows 2000 Server, so many shops decided to stick with 2K.

Consumers who had upgraded from Win 98 to the ill-fated Windows Me had no desire for yet another OS change-out.

XP came with the comic-book interface, the rolling hills & clouds background known as "bliss" which made it look like a consumer OS. not something for business.

XP introduced Product Activation, which at the outset did not work 100% of the time, requiring a lengthy phone call to activate legitimate copies of the product.

A certain number of peripherals did not work with XP, so moving from Win 2K would require replacing those devices, making the migration cost more than just the OS upgrade.

XP needed significantly more RAM to run efficiently. Officially, the "required" RAM for Win 2K was 96 Meg, and for XP 128 Meg. But if you've ever seen XP with 128 Meg it is truly painful to watch, it takes a long, long time to load.

Years after the initial release, migration to XP was driven by the introduction of Office 2003 which was a much improved Office but wouldn't run on the older Win 2K. In contrast, Office 2007, even though it runs on both XP and Vista, is certainly different but not necessarily better.