The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

A computer ate my baby!

Five pictures I have were broken during the move (technically, they were broken during the move to the Facility in the Middle of Nowhere; I never bothered to get them fixed three years ago because the Facility in the Middle of Nowhere was only a “temporary” move—heh) so this morning I took them to an art store to get repaired—three needed new frames and two the glass replaced.

Fortunately for me, I was the only customer for the framing department. As I placed each picture up on the counter and explained what I wanted, the counter person would make measurements and write notes up on the computer, using some custom written software for the management of a framing department in an art store.

Things were going slowly due to the software—while it may have been beautifully written, the user interface was poorly designed and it was obvious to me (and I couldn't even seen the screen) that the programmers who wrote the software never actually used the software, or even had an understanding of what was required to run a framing department in an art store; it would have been faster for the counter person to take down written notes and hand print the work order than to use the computer.

Then, upon entry of the fifth and final picture the software crashed. All five orders were gone. Meanwhile someone had arrived to pick up some artworked with finished framing. The counter person decided to take care of that person (since all they needed was a receipt to take to the counter) when the printer stopped functioning.

At this point, I had to seriously consider the benefits of the use of a computer at all in this store. Sure, it could keep track of inventory and with some clever queries can puzzle out odd relationships where the arrival of rain causes an increase in sales of recycled polyester paint brushes, but when a mildly complex order like “these three pictures need new frames; these two I want that frame with this matting, this one that frame with no matting, and these two just need new glass” takes over an hour to complete it's clear that the people responsible for the software need to be taken out and shot.

Or at least forced to use their own software for a week.

In any case, the work order was submitted, and in two weeks I'll have the fixed pieces back in my hands.

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