Seek you numpties!

Seek is one of the job sites in Australia. Like most big Australian sites, it seems to have been built by people still living in the bad old days of 2000 web design. Someone, probably in a suit and with pointy hair, said they have to get this "Web 2.0" thing, so they've added RSS feeds.

Unfortunately, here's what you get when you click on one of the links in their RSS feeds:
Warning - your session on SEEK has expired and the page you have requested is no longer available. Please return to the SEEK homepage to restart your session.

What's more, going to the front page and then returning to the linked URL doesn't fix it. Fucking numpties! Given this is another disaster by PBL Media though, it should be expected. I mean, just have a look at myhome.com.au. A great site where you also can't bookmark or email URLs around. I mean, when you're looking for a house you're never gonna send links to people, are you?

Seek responds

Carey Eaton, Product Director at Seek responds to my post from this morning:

Thanks for alerting us to this issue - its obviously not supposed to work like that and this is the first complaint we've had about it so I'll make sure we get it fixed asap.

I should also point out that whilst PBL is a shareholder in Seek, PBL is also a shareholder in many other organisations including organisations which are shareholders in MyHome. There is no relationship between MyHome and Seek directly, in the same sense that there is no relationship between Seek and the very large number companies in which our different shareholders have invested. I should also point out a common misunderstanding: Seek, whilst being a media company, is not part of PBL Media either.

So there you go. Hopefully the bug there will get fixed. I'm pretty impressed that someone working there found my blog -- I imagine through one of the Planets. Carey: let me know if you need any diagnostic info (cookie details et al).

For the future reference of others: never throw an error for session expiry unless you're collecting something important from the user. Having them view something read-only doesn't constitute such a situation -- just open another session.

Interesting that he distances Seek from myhome. I would to -- their site is an absolute disaster.

Dave also wrote to point out recruit.net which pulls in job ads from all the main sites and allows you to setup custom feeds. Very nice.

What happens when you piss people off

While tweaking my site, looking through Google's stats for keywords hitting my resume, I noticed a couple of people searching for "Acumen Envision". It sent me down memory lane a bit.

Back in 2001, when I was working for the train wreck that was Digital Science, one of the gigs I got was a one-day training course delivered to a bunch of the techs at Independent Newspapers. The brief was incredibly vague: they wanted an introduction to Linux, using a book as the guide. So I picked up the book and, with only a day's notice, built a rough outline of a walkthrough and got ready to deliver it. With such short notice, I arrived damn early at the site to make sure everything was going to be there. I asked about installing Linux, one of the few things mentioned in brief, on all the machines in the training room and was told no problem.

Needless to say, it was a very challenging day but I think I did pretty well. I took the group through installing and configuring Linux, explaining all the things I thought would be important to the audience of developers and sysadmins, comparing and contrasting with Solaris which they knew well. At the end of the day, the client was very happy with me and less happy with the training company, Acumen Envision. He could tell (and I also told him) that they were a bit of a shoestring, fly-by-night company.

At the end of the day, my employer Digital Science never managed to get paid for the work I did. They claimed it had cost them thousands of pounds to re-image the training machines, which I'd been explicitely told I could install over. Fortunately it wasn't my (direct) problem, and it was only a couple of days' work so not worth going after too hard.

So I thought I'd Google the company name and see what came up. Wow. Looks like these guys did the same non-payment trick to other people. They, and the head honch Rennie Garcia, really pissed this guy off. So much so, he had the company wound up and even set up another site with material from other people who'd been ripped off, this time in Spain. It even looks like he's been arrested. Hurrah!

I guess I'd fail the character test

So I guess I would also fail the character test by having associated with convicted criminals. After all, I've met a man who was jailed today, and probably have met others. I guess this means all criminal lawyers would fail the test too.

Lucky I was born here then, I guess. Not sure I'm too proud of that fact on current form.

The only good news from this is that someone who evaded tax is going to jail. If only they could've pinned it on the Goanna before we paid for his funeral.

If Hitler had died of cancer, would he get obits like this?

The obituaries for the taxi driver's choice of right-wing shock jock Stan Zemanek are sickening. By dying of cancer he seems to have been rehabilitated as some kind of lovable, mildly eccentric but genuinely good guy. Remember this guy was a xenophobic, rabidly right-wing, abusive arsehole who regularly incited his listeners to violence, up to and including the murder of cyclists on one memorable occasion.

At the risk of inciting Godwin's Law, had he only died of cancer would Hitler have got obituaries touting his love of Eva and Blondi, the tragic childhood accident that left him a nut down and gushing paragraphs about his love of animals and vegetarianism?

The superstitious might think it bad to speak ill of the dead, but never forget that Stan Zemanek was a right-wing nutjob who incited people to violence. If there's a hell, I'm sure they're firing up the barbecue as we speak.

I bought a PS2: I'm so up-to-date

After playing Guitar Hero at my brother-in-law's place last weekend, I went out and bought myself a PS2 for cheap on eBay. I've done this before, buy a console when they're nice and cheap at the end of their lifespan. In fact, I bought a PS1 some months after the original PS2 came out.

It's quite amusing because I was in Tokyo shortly after the PS2 was launched there. Walking through one of the back alleys of Akihabara there was a van dodgily selling PS2 consoles. I nearly bought one, figuring I could flog for big bucks back in Oz, but they already wanted mega big bucks buying it from the van.

The game that came with the console is pretty crap, though the opening sequence has a funny bit about "UN special forces troops" getting ready to defend Kueait, which is kinda laughable. Similar to when the yanks were bombing the no-fly zone and CNN reported "UN bombs Iraq" while every news outlet that wasn't in North America reports "US bombs Iraq".

Being quite an old console, there's loads of games available for not very much money on eBay. Anyone got any recommendations? I'm not really into shooters or racing games. I'm big on drunken party games for many players, so I think I'll get an Eyetoy and Singstar. I've always enjoyed the SSX games so I'll see if I can get one of those too. Oh and Tekken was always a household favourite with the PS1.

One question for those in the know: are there wireless controllers? Our telly is a long way from the couch and with the console on top of the telly, the cables get in the way.

Tranny cops: masters of disguise

Tranny cops

As you can see the Tranny Cops are masters of disguise. Clearly our police overlords had trouble distinguishing them from regular plods. Fortunately our eagle-eyed judges were able to spot the imposters and the charges have been dropped.

This excerpt is just hilarious.

Mr Fordham entered into evidence a symbol that was on the women's uniforms that he said was similar to the Victorian police insignia.

Mr Heilpern said: "I presume Victoria police haven't seen it but they don't have an anarchist sign in the middle [of their insignia]."

How bad decisions get made

Here's a little anecdote from personal experience about why bad decisions sometimes end up happening, then staying around. I'm not quite sure how big companies can institutionally resolve this kind of problem.

Those of you who know me well know that I'm opinionated. I don't mind telling people that something is shit if that's what I believe. I carry a lot of this into my work, and I think it's why I'm good at what I do. I care about my work, passionately, which means I'll defend my corner of an argument. Not to say I can't change my mind, but you've got to convince me.

Much of my most recent project has involved wrangling copy into shape to go online, checking it sticks to the company's style guide and professed commitment to staightforward communication. This can be difficult when you're dealing with people who are used to a certain, legalistic style of language.

There's nothing about legally-correct text that requires it to be convoluted and difficult for the ordinary human being to understand, but that seems to be the default setting for lawyers. They have their own set of very precise linguistic tools to say exactly what they mean in a minimum of words. You can translate this into very clear, very accurate language that is parseable by mere mortals, but it takes time and energy.

This has been my job for the last while. It can be exhausting work, but it's also quite rewarding when you've managed to wrangle a site into something that contains no sneaky weasel words, no sneaky "conditions apply", excising all asterisks and other symbols pointing to impenetrable fine print, in an industry that is more confuspoly than anything else.

So anyway, on to my point. At one stage we were working on system requirements copy for the broadband products. These specify the usual things that are actually requirements to run Internet Explorer, nothing really to do with the hardware and service we supply. As some kind of concession to a small minority of the marketplace, we seem to also list versions of Mac operating systems.

I went to the product manager involved and suggested we change it from requirements to just saying what we support. I suggested some copy along the lines of "if you know what you're doing, you'll have no trouble connecting with other operating systems but please understand we can't support you with these operating systems". After all, it's just TCP/IP and the hardware we supply has ethernet coming out. I pointed out the very enlightened approach used by Internode.

Now this is an issue I care about a lot. There's really no reason this company couldn't support other operating systems, at least for knowledgable users. What's more, there's no reason other operating systems can't use the service, so limiting the "system requirements" is actually incorrect.

But in the end, the product manager won the argument, because it was the end of a very long cycle of "discussions", and I was worn down. We needed to get things moving, and all parties were pretty over the process. So the site still says something incorrect, misleading even. We might even be losing some customers, though I guess Linux and BSD users are used this and ignore it routinely anyway.

It's not something I'm happy about, but it's also not something I'm willing to revisit. I'd have to use up some of my reputation in the company, throwing my weight around on what really isn't an earth shattering issue. It still bugs me, but the idea of going back to it makes me feel world weary.

This is how the world can grind you down.