Dear IT geniuses:
Much as I love you, I must point out that developing golly-gee-whiz-way-cool technology is not the same as developing a system that works as advertised. Here are three software systems that fail to live up to advance billing:
- Online Banking. About six months ago, I made a mistake and forgot to press the “Finalize” button to send my online payments on their merry way. Those payments never arrived, needless to say, and I had to call my bank to straighten things out. During the conversation, the bank representative told me that the bank receives my online payments, prints hardcopy checks and then puts them in the US mail!!! What? So that’s why my “online banking” takes longer than just writing a check and mailing it myself.
As far as I know, the advance billing never mentioned that this online system relies on the good old US mail.
The first step in rolling out a new feature should be selecting an accurate name. “Online banking” is a misnomer. The feature is actually ONLINE CHECK PREPARATION. The user sacrifices payment speed to enter checks on the computer and save money on stamps.
In fairness, the ability to transfer funds online from one account to another at the same bank is nearly instantaneous. That is online banking.
As an aside, I bank in two different states, checking and savings accounts in each. One is a private sector bank, the other a federal credit union. Online bill payment has been and continues to be faster through the federal credit union than through the private sector bank. Make of that what you will.
- Gmail. I recently saw job-hunting advice for older job-seekers suggesting that the job-seeker demonstrate current skills by having a gmail account rather than AOL or Yahoo. A cartoon showed a white-haired woman saying “I’ve had the same AOL account since 1998.” Imagine my distress: I’ve had the same AOL account since 1995! I also have a gmail account.
Gmail is one of the most primitive email systems I have seen. You can’t even move the window! I can’t remember when AOL’s email was so limited. My job-seeking advice is this: Tell the recruiter that you have a gmail account, of course, but you have to use such a primitive system.
- Netflix streaming. If there is a golly-gee-whiz-way-cool technology, streaming is it. Watching entertainment through the Internet is convenience itself. People have waxed eloquent about Netflix streaming: “You’re wasting your money on DVDs. Everything is going to be streamed. DVD players will be obsolete. You have a complete library at your fingertips.”
Would that it were true! The technology is there, but where are the movies? I am a movie buff and want to see movies that win awards or are prominent in some way. I actually keep lists of movies that meet critic standards or my own. I checked Netflix streaming repeatedly for the movies I wanted to watch, finally gave up and signed up for Netflix DVDs. Lo and behold, Netflix had movies by the score! Out of 60 movies I requested, Netflix streaming had two.
All I can say is
Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts!!!