advocacy bitching programming Web 0.1 web 2.0

Why you shouldn’t use webfonts instead of images

Warning: principled rant against sloppy design and bad coding about to start; kids these days! Get off my lawn!

There’s a terrible disease affecting modern web developers – has just fallen ill with it, and it could be a long time before they cure themselves.

Deleting all images, and replacing them with the dreaded “web font”.

It’s the wrong solution for the problem, it doesn’t do what you think it does, and it pisses all over some of the Web’s core principles. If you’re a web developer, and you respect your craft, you shouldn’t even consider this, not for one moment. Here, for instance, is how Twitter currently looks for me – ugly, and very hard to use!

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 10.18.17

GitHub was another recent victim of this disease. They’re still in recovery, but they at least made their site “slightly usable” by adding tooltips:

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 10.30.18

What’s going on?

The problem

Core Web principle:

Information is everything; presentation is optional. It’s acceptable to forego presentation, so long as everyone can access the information.

Effect: When you load a webpage, your browser requests every image separately. This is a long way short of the “most optimal” code implementation.

Is this a big problem? For most of us … Not really. The system works, it’s flexible, it’s powerful – it’s a little inefficient, but for the corporations that care there are plenty of hacks and optimizations they can deploy.

The other problem

Most artists should be creating Vector images most of the time, but the software vendors who made the editing tools for Vectors … all died out around 15 years ago. Back then, the advantages of Vectors were small, because most screens were low res.

We still haven’t recovered. There are many standards for bitmap image files, and two very popular ones – PNG, JPG. There are many standards for vector image files, but no popular ones.

Effect: web developers end up looking to Web Fonts as a de facto “vector image” standard.

SVG, or not to SVG?

There is an official Web/HTML approved vector standard – SVG – in wide use, with strong support in all current browsers.

Does it work? Let’s see ( …

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 10.45.46
Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 10.45.33

… but many software companies ignore it. For instance, Apple allows programmers to use both PNG and JPG (why?) in core iOS, but not SVG (despite having a full SVG parser built-in to their web browser). Many programmers I speak to believe that SVG isn’t supported at all – FUD wins again.

The other, other problem

A core principle of the Web is that information is accurately described (the M in HTML). A recent trend in web development is “progressive enhancement”.

def. “Progressive Enhancement HTML”: a webpage written the way you were supposed to write it, instead of being hacked-together by unskilled monkeys

HTML has always been “progressive” – this was a core principle 20 years ago. But HTML was so easy to use and abuse that many of us (most of us? nearly all of us?) have been writing poor HTML most of that time. Shame on us (shame on me, certainly – been there, done that :( ).

But … the key point here is: Progressive Enhancement isn’t an “optional extra”, it is the Web. If you fight PE, you’re fighting the entire web infrastructure – and we know how that war will end.

…whatever. What about Web fonts?

So, when you remove an “image” and put a “web font letter” there instead, and change that letter so that the font contains an image you wanted …

…your HTML is now a lie.

Maybe you’re the kind of web developer who scorns blind people (and partially blind), who ignores the Internationalization features of software. You laugh in the face of Accessibility Standards, so you can reduce development time.

But HTML doesn’t make these things optional. They are so core to HTML that they are “always on”, even if you personally never use (need) them. One of the beautiful features of HTML is that if you do nothing, most of the Accessibility is automatically done for you.

With HTML, you have to go out of your way to prevent Accessibility. For instance: replacing images with magic-letters from a magic font.

You’re not blind; why does the Web Font fail?

The thing about custom Web Fonts is … the user can disable them.

Again, this is fundamental to the web. Partly for the Accessibility issue (who are you to decide which users require Accessibility? No. It’s for the user to decide).

But also to support the web principles of openness, and user-control (not corporation-control). My machine, my browser, my choice.

Just as you cannot prevent users from hitting the “View -> Zoom” menu option and making your web page take more or fewer pixels on their screen (I’ve worked with web designers – mostly ex-print designers – who HATED this, and felt it was a feature that should be banned) … you cannot force a crappy font on the user.

Information is everything; presentation is optional. It’s acceptable to forego presentation, so long as everyone can access the information.

In my case: I have a MacBook Air. While wonderful in many ways, they have tiny (11″), non-retina screens, and they’re laptops – so the screen is often further away than I’d like. When WebFonts came to CSS, a lot of the websites I use (art sites, design agencies) started using “beautiful but TINY” fonts that were unreadable. Game Studios still do this today, sadly – lots of hard-to-read but “edgy!” fonts and bad colour choices.

Sometimes, the only way I can do my day to day work is to disable the crappy 3rd party fonts.

Another solution?

SVG says “Hi!”. Think about it.

entrepreneurship startup advice Web 0.1 web 2.0

What’s wrong with Cloud Computing?


Screen Shot 2013-07-19 at 11.01.58

(blocking me from doing any work – I need that spreadsheet, and thanks to Cloud, it’s impossible. Any other system – source / revision control, local files, file servers, etc – would have a quick, easy way for me to get at it. It’s only Cloud that fails … opaquely :( )

bitching Web 0.1

Microsoft’s Fraudulent Windows8 “upgrade” offer?

Windows 8

It’s great, it’s beautifully presented, and the best OS I’ve used in the last 20 years or so.

It makes OS X look clunky (which, let’s face it – for Microsoft – is one hell of an achievement)

The upgrade

My primary windows machine (used to) run XP. Microsoft has a “special offer” to upgrade you to Windows 8. So I took it, and paid the extra for the physical DVD to be sent to me. That was on November 20th – more than 3 weeks ago, and it never arrived.

In the meantime, Microsoft auto-downloads and installs “Windows 8”

Or they claim to…

The bait-and-switch

…in the weeks since, I’ve found LOTS of Windows apps crashing, with “out of memory” errors on my 12 GB RAM machine. WTF?

After days of searching, I eventually found the cause:

Microsoft will charge you for 64bit windows BUT ONLY GIVE YOU 32bit windows

They never state this.

Allegedly, the DVD they send (or not, in my case) happens to contain the 64bit version. You won’t know this, but if you work it out, you can allegedly delete the crap they install on your system and replace it with the correct, actual, Windows 8.

The problem: Installed Physical Memory is different from Available Memory

32bit Windows 8 running on a 64bit CPU is ridiculous, from any perspective.

If you run “Device Information”, you’ll see a massive discrepancy between the memory that Microsoft agrees is in your machine (8Gb, 16GB, 32GB etc), and the memory Windows is willing to use (typically: 3.1 GB, 2.9GB, 3.5GB or similar).

There’s nothing you can do to make windows “enable” your memory – a 32bit copy of Windows cannot access more than 4GB of memory, by its very nature.

Good luck finding this out – Microsoft’s own website, if you select “windows 8” and search for “RAM” or “memory” instead takes you to Windows-7 specific problems. Sigh.

Addendum 1: Microsoft support

  1. Microsoft’s “Live Support” personnel HUNG UP 5 seconds into the live-chat
  2. Microsoft’s official email address that sends the electronic order info … has an auto-responder saying it’s not ACTUALLY an email address, it’s a fake

What can you do? … not much.

Addendum 2: Microsoft’s ‘other’ support

*IF* you can get through to Microsoft’s generic, non-Windows8, support, you might be in luck.

That way, I finally got into a livechat with someone from Microsoft who “reprocessed” the mailing of the DVD. It’s a 1-2 week wait (how are they sending these things – by pigeon??), and we’ll see what happens…

They also gave me a different download link for Windows8, which they specifically stated was the 64 bit version.

…12 hours later…

Nope! Microsoft lied again: it re-installed the OS it was already running, with zero changes. Still 32bit. Still application crashes left, right, and center.

amusing marketing and PR Web 0.1

HSBC’s web team: WTF?

Why does the login URL for internet banking:

…redirect to the newsletter for global investors:


Do you *want* people to think your website has been hacked?

Or do you just not know what a cool URI is?

I think your VP Marketing / Marketing Director needs a slap upside the head…

amusing usability Web 0.1

GitHub User-Interface: admission of failure?

Screenshot taken straight from the official blog post:

You see, they wanted to add a feature where you could “watch” a repository.

Only … due to some weak design (or perhaps: technology-led) decisions in the past, they already had a feature with this name, which didn’t really do what it claimed to do. Rather than fix it … they added a meaningless button that does what the existing button (Watch) pretends to do. So now, when you want to watch a project, you must NOT CLICK the Watch button, with its excellent icon, but instead the “burning lump of gas” button. Um.

Here’s a hint: if you’re designing a UI, and at any point you decide:

“STARS! Starring items is the answer!”

…and the question was anything other than “how do we Rate items?”, then: you’re wrong. Try again.

(PS: they’ve also fixed the extremely annoying long-time bug that people could raise Issues, or Comment, on your repository – but you’d never find out, again because of technical decisions / implementation issues on their system. Apparently alll fixed now. Yay!)

Google? Doh! Web 0.1

Google: please hire a UX person for Gmail

Who at Google even thought this sounded like a good idea?

1994 phoned: they want their GeoCities school of web design back.

(I’ve had to switch to non-javascript Gmail because the latest “forced update” of Gmail has some JS bugs in it that make it run very slow, lose emails, and overheat my laptop. Triple whammy (all because of a bug in a javascript somewhere, so far as I can tell))

bitching Web 0.1 web 2.0

Apple OS X install hell: way worse than Windows :(

Almost a year after Apple’s disastrous “force consumers to download Lion, instead of installing from DVD”, apparently it still doesn’t work. It’s hard to recommend OS X to anyone after this experience.

UPDATE 2: Apple’s “download a file from the internet” code is so bad it’s causing the MacBook to overheat – 80 degrees celsius, very close to the “automatically reboot” temperature. This is *to download a file*. Apple’s misuse / misunderstanding of web technologies seems quite incredible.

(the process is called “storeagent”)

My last 24 hours:

  1. Buy Lion
  2. Download starts
  3. …it’s a 4gb download, this takes a long time…
  4. Download stops at 25% for no reason.
  5. Resume button gives a wait cursor for 5 seconds, then goes back to “paused”
  6. Repeat twice
  7. Third time, the Resume button is disabled, and now Lion is stuck in “Waiting” and there’s no buttons you can press except “cancel”
  8. Remains in “waiting” for many hours. Googling suggests this is a permanent crash in Apple’s App Store.
  9. Cancel the download, re click the “buy app” link
  10. Apple quits OS X, kills all apps, deletes all unsaved data, throws me out to the login screen
  11. Login again, and Lion icon has appeared in the dock.
  12. …but: Lion now refuses to even start downloading – it’s stuck on “Paused, 0 of 0 bytes”


  1. Try again (delete OS X Lion, re-purchase from App Store) and … finally the download starts. Waiting now to see if it will complete this time, instead of giving up partway like before…

I.e. Apple’s infrastructure is still blocking me from downloading the OS. How hard can it be to *download a file* ?

Next step: walk in to an apple store and ask them to give me a USB stick, since their webserver is FUBAR.

Web 0.1

Linkedin now blocking iPhones

If you follow links in linkedin emails today, from an iPhone, you get kicked off the site, and every page redirects to:


Even if you type in the front page URL directly, you are *not allowed* to visit the website.


amusing Web 0.1

Eventbrite: please un-break your login page

And repeat after me:

“novice web developers should NOT override the Enter key on the keyboard”

(autocomplete fails – when you hit enter to accept browser-autocomplete, the idiotic untested, badly-written javascript kicks in and deletes the form data)

bitching Web 0.1

Web 0.1: flickr still doesn’t support OS X

…as in: after 5 odd years, on OS X the official uploader still “requires” you to either lose all your data every time it stumbles, or … force-crash it. Which, paradoxically, keeps your data intact. Confused? You should be.

e.g. you get 50% through uploading a few hundred photos, and your broadband has a momentary slowdown. Ten seconds appears to be all it takes. Because the flickr app doesn’t do basic error handling, it’ll hang at this point – forever.

If you do the obvious thing and hit “cancel” (there’s no “retry” button – why would you want to retry?), it deletes your data.

If you quit, it also deletes your data. (this is the mistake I made just now. That’s 20 minutes of editing image data I now have to do all over again. Sigh)

The only options are:

1. pull out the network cable, causing it to hard-crash … and “enable” the retry button
2. force-quit the app, causing it to crash … and when you restart it, it will automatically load in all the data

So, note to self: if flickr uploader hangs, FORCE KILL the ****er. Don’t do anything sensible or sane – it won’t work.

And … note to flickr: there’s quite a lot of Mac users these days; might be a good idea to start supporting them.

Web 0.1

Web 0.1: Ordnance Survey / UK govt

I think it is a fantastic and wonderful thing that the complete, detailed, maps of the UK are now free for all commercial and non-commercial use. This is a long way ahead of any other country – these maps are many times more detailed and accurate than e.g. the Google Maps / Yahoo Maps / Streetmap datasets.

(PS: these days, the excellent OpenStreetMap (which works in every country – and I wanted to name-check here for anyone who isn’t aware of it already) has advanced so much that it’s seriously encroaching on the OS … why did we have to wait until the OS was heading towards obsolescence before making it free? Sigh)

(it’s just a pity it took so many years to reach this point, when e.g. in the USA, NASA has been making their content public domain for decades. All those high-res photos of space, nebulas, planets, etc – all free. For everyone)

But … it’s a pity they couldn’t find competent web-developers for their site

Apart from the “I’m too lazy to write a web form properly” bug there, it also begs the question:

Why, in 2011, are you forcing people to use *EMAIL* to get a download link, instead of just downloading direct from the website?

I can think of a few possible explanations, but they all have simple solutions. So … I guess they’re all wrong. Otherwise, why hasn’t the OS done any of them :) ?

(oh, BTW: Ordnance Survey folks, you might want to run through your email-marketing database, and prune out any accounts you just created for: *you*are*incompetent*@*.com . Your crappy web-form not only failed to accept legal addresses, but it happily accepted email addresses that were blatantly fake)

And so … we have another Web 0.1 award :).

server admin startup advice Web 0.1

Don’t use BitBucket – broken OpenID authentication

We’re starting a new client project, and the client uses Mercurial exclusively, all through BitBucket.

BitBucket has a stupid user-accounts system, that demands you invent a globally-unique username. Oh dear lord – how amateurish are you guys?

Aha! BUT! … they have a (very subtle) link to let you use OpenID instead. Phew! My day is saved – I don’t have to be “dodgy-69-sucker-11111” just in a desperate attempt to work around a naive website architect.


Except … once you’ve sacrificed your private account details to Atlassian, they … don’t allow you to login. It reports “success” but tells you that you’re not allowed to use OpenID to access the site, you STILL have to create a non-OpenID account, using a globally unique ID.

I’m sure they’re doing “something” with OpenID, but I get the impression that the folks at BitBucket don’t grok what most of the world is using it for…

How do I take back my Identity, you fraudsters?

Well, Atlassian won’t help you there.

Fortunately, Google did…

Google’s UI designers FTW

I used Google as my OpenID source this time around. And, *fortunately*, Google’s process for de-authorizing a website is very simple.

I usually assume Google’s UI is great, and I usually only blog about it when it fails badly, but here’s an example where it works beautifully.

(hint: there’s a shortcut – but Google might change the link in future. You can go directly to:

Just go to your account page (, and *right at the top of the page* (thanks, Google!) is a link to all your authorized websites – it’s in a big white space on it’s own, VERY easy to find.

Web 0.1

Web 0.1: Canon USA

FAIL #1: Website denies existence of products, broken cookie-“cleverness”

Canon recently (last few months) launched a new “prosumer” DSLR – the EOS 550D, a.k.a. Rebel T2i (because Americans need to feel “cool” and “rebellious”, apparently. Hmm. Marketing fail there too, perhaps?).

According to Canon’s website, this does not exist. Try for yourself:

…UNLESS you’ve been to the site before. Second time you go to the site, you get an entirely different “product” page. First version is a list of approx 7 cameras, second version is a grid showing 11 cameras – which does include the Rebel T2i.


FAIL #2: Javascript navigation: webpage has “no content”

So, you finally find the camera page, and select the “Drivers and Software” tab, e.g.:

What do you see?

1 firmware update, and no drivers, and no software. How come?

Well, you have to select a value in the tiny dropdown near the top of the page, and only then will the page magically update itself in-situ with the ACTUAL list of “Drivers and Software”.

Is the resulting page bookmarkable? Nope; it’s not actuall a “webpage”, it’s a temporary piece of javascript. ARGH!


FAIL #3: Javascript navigation, breaking basic web standards

Fine. So, for Windows, or for OS X, there’s a dozen or so downloads – once you spot the “trick” to reveal them.

Ah, but – are you allowed to simply click and download them? “NOOO!”, says Canon USA.

If you try to follow any of the links, you discover they aren’t actually links, but instead are proprietary Javascript routines that are masquerading as links. (BAD web designer! Why did they do this? What possible advantage is there? Where the heck did Canon’s web team learn to write HTML?)

I wouldn’t mind, except … they implemented the Javascript so badly that each download link isn’t even a URL.

Which means … when you click on a download, and download it, then hit “Back” in your web browser … you get put back to the page BEFORE you even went to the Canon website.


Go to JAIL. Do not pass GO. Do NOT collect $200

Yep – that’s right, time to use that stupid drop-down again, before you’re “allowed” to see the list of files.

And then, for each file, you’ll have to repeat:

  1. click file link
  2. scroll to download link
  3. click download link (3 clicks to download – Amazon, eat your heart out!)
  4. click Back (NB: Canon’s web team couldn’t be bothered to provide a javascript “back” function)
  5. click Forwards
  6. select your OS from the drop-down list
  7. scroll back to where you started

SEVEN steps to download each file? For half a dozen files? Canon USA, congratulations – that’s Web 0.1!

UPDATE: … I worked out a trick. If, after you download each file by clicking the “I Accept these terms and conditions” button, you then click the “No, I reject these terms and conditions”, it surreptitiously puts you back to the previous page. Canon’s web team apparently has no issue with you simultaneously Accepting and Rejecting their legal documents – I wonder what Canon’s lawfirm would say about that?

amusing Web 0.1

Adobe still doesn’t understand this “world wide web” thang…

Given how badly Flash is getting smacked-down at the moment, I find this hilarious.

Right now,’s store page (where you get redirected if you google for Adobe products) doesn’t work in a mainstream desktop browser (Firefox). I go to the page, and suddenly my keyboard stops working, and the mouse is only half working. WTF?

Ah. A bit of digging, and I find crap like this:

…fully “custom” scrollbar, which I suspect is disabling keyboard and mouse input.

What does this achieve?

  1. HEY! It looks “different”!
  2. Confusing: looks like a Tab, instead of a scrollbar
  3. Reduces performance: this scrollbar *flickers* as you drag it, because the rendering routine is so horrendously slow. This is on a Core2 Duo processor that’s not doing anything else.

What does it break (aside from performance)?

  1. Keyboard navigation: spacebar, cursor keys, and left/right switch tab (VERY annoying: it seizes control of your keyboard and won’t let you navigate away)
  2. Mouse navigation: it bypasses the web-browser (stupid idea, Adobe), and so all the mouse gestures – even the OS-built-ins like 2-finger-scroll – stop working

It’s like a microcosm of why people get frustrated with Adobe – and perhaps of how Flash is going to go down in flames. It would be subtle and clever if today were April 1st:

  1. Who cares what the user thinks? Give them useless crap that doesn’t even look pretty! (think of the features added in most revisions of CS)
  2. …but FORCE it on them, too; choice is bad! (recall the Adobe trojan that they wrote to take over your PC and force-install Adobe products)
  3. Performance? Who cares about performance? (Illustrator and large files … nuff said)
amusing Web 0.1’s Uberfuzzy: you idiot

I just tried to create a free wiki on Wikia, to help the developer commuity with Entity Systems. This has no benefit to me, it’s purely for other people. I figured a system like Wikia would welcome such a wiki.

Wikia hasn’t yet implemented any of the common username systems, and won’t let you look at the Wiki to see if it supports the features you need … until AFTER you’ve given them your email address.

So I chose a username containing the text “get open ID”, as a quiet form of protest.

Oh. Crap. Wikia has now enacted a permanent block (their wording) – I cannot create any wikis, I cannot signup under a different username, I’m just blocked.

Wikia has a special page to tell me the name of the person who did this:

Wikia then tells me to “contact them”.

Only … that person:

“has chosen not to receive e-mail from other users.”

Oh. The only way you’re allowed to contact them … is by creating an account. But Uberfuzzy has banned me from creating accounts.

Indeed, if you click the link to contact Uberfuzzy within the system, you get the text:

You do not have permission to [contact Uberfuzzy]…
…The block was made by Uberfuzzy…
…You can contact Uberfuzzy or another Administrator to discuss the block.

Sometimes the ability of otherwise intelligent people to be so incredibly stupid makes me want to weep :).

iphone Web 0.1

InformationWeek attempts iPhone website; Fails

As an iPhone developer, I often encounter companies that try to save a lot of money by making a mobile website and then claiming (to their partners / customers / advertisers) that it’s an iPhone app. In some cases, I believe this is a good idea – they don’t have the content/presence/depth to support a full app, and a mobile website works equally poorly across all devices.

Then, occasionally, you find a company that tries to be *really* cheapskate, and specifically targets iPhone with their mobile website. This generally goes horribly wrong, and costs substantial development effort.

For instance, Information Week:

That popup is part of the website, not part of the app, and this is being viewed in bog-standard Safari on iPhone.

Someone has carefully hard-coded the webpage to:

  1. Detect iPhone as the client
  2. Draw a dialog box that assumes a specific version of Safari browser
  3. Draw a pointer to where they “know” the + button is in Safari
  4. Detect whether the + button is pressed
  5. Respond to clicking the X button in top right

…but it’s not a native app, and here’s the key thing: it doesn’t work.

The box positions perfectly, and no doubt the devleopment team (internal? external? how much did IW pay for this?) were able to demonstrate it appearing to work correctly to their stakeholders.

But, sadly, the mobile website is (apparently) incapable of detecting the X button correctly: that dialog box cannot be dismissed. It stays forever. It disappears for only the briefest of moments, then comes back again.

In the process, not only does it obliterate 30% of the screen space, but it also causes the browser to slow down for half a second while it does all the (slow) javascript calculations to position the “clever” popup box in the right place.

(a native app, of course, would be using a compiled language, and would run the same code 100x-1000x faster; the user would see no delay)

Net effect?

The user is so pissed off they’ll go out of their way to STOP visiting the Information Week website. IW loses money.

And, the irony: if IW had spent no money at all they would have been better off. The iPhone renders rich websites perfectly, certainly better than any custom iPhone skins I’ve seen. Sadly, a large number of web designers persist in trying to “prove” they are just as good as iPhone designers by making these custom skins. I’m not sure why, but it comes across as desperate and despairing, and a little pathetic. Good web designers are good at web design; good iphone designers are good at iPhone design; what’s the problem?

Web 0.1

Skype rejects filthy internet users

Do you use Skype?

Are you WEIRD enough to own MORE THAN ONE computer?

(or gullible enough to want to download the LATEST version of Skype?)

Well … f***-off! Skype is desperate to prevent you using their service.

Download … FAIL

Try to download skype today, and you’ll get:

It’s a recent development … I downloaded skype a month ago, and this crap wasn’t there back then. For the last 5 years, if you wanted to download Skype, it was a single-click from the front page. Now it’s not even *on* the front-page, and they’ve added this “don’t download” barrier.

Net effect … I’m not using Skype today. I’ve got better things to do than jump through hoops to login to a website and be spammed with advertising to use a service *I AM ALREADY PAYING FOR*.

Seems to me there’s a wave of clueless marketing people working for internet corporates these days…

amusing Web 0.1

Embarassing uses of Flash #342: Wicks Group

The Wicks Group is a private-equity firm routinely buying and selling companies for tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. Here’s their web page:

Yes, really. At first I thought it was some small spam-using firm with crappy webskills, that had managed to buy the domain name of a bigger company. I closed the window.

But later, I got referred back to the same domain by a reputable site, so I tried again.

Here’s what the site looks like when you enable Flash:

Ah! That’s better!

So, I’m guessing their website got hacked some time ago, inserting the advert spam for NFL Jerseys … on that basis, I’ve emailed them and suggested they hire a decent web developer to take a look at the site and remove the hack – and probably upgrade their webserver so that it doesn’t get hacked again.

amusing community social networking Web 0.1

Web 0.1: Apple Customer Support: “please don’t email us, just sue us”

I saw an article recently that described this attitude nicely: certain weak marketing executives believe that the purpose of a “conversation” is for them to have more ways of telling the customer what to do; they are seemingly incapable of understanding the idea that a “conversation” involves listening to the other person.

To them, email is a “one-way broadcast medium for us to tell the customer what to buy”, rather than “a two-way communication medium that allows us to listen and respond to our customers”.

Today, I received a great example. Here’s an email I received one month ago, from Apple:

“Thank you for renewing your iPhone Developer Program membership. New Expiration Date: 10 Aug 2010”

And here’s the email I received today, from Apple:

“your iPhone Developer Program has expired” (sent from address: “” )

A triple-whammy on appalling customer support there:

  1. Erroneously (I hope) claiming that they are NOT providing a service they have committed to providing
  2. Taking money from a bank account in return for a service that they then don’t provide (that bit’s illegal)
  3. …and:
  4. Sending all correspondence from an email address that they mark “noreply”; i.e. “if we (Apple) screwed up, we don’t want to hear from you. We don’t want to fix it. Go away”

I especially like the way they put this all together, so you get the implication that:

Apple would prefer me to sue them (Apple), or file a claim against them for fraud, than to let me send them a simple email and spare them the fallout of their stupid mistake.

Using a two-way media to deliberately ignore your customers? That’s Web 0.1.

amusing bitching iphone Web 0.1

Apple: still don’t know how to use “The InterNet … thingy”

I’m trying to download the 3.0 OS update for iPhone…and being denied by Apple’s own software – that cannot even download a single file from a website (!)

It’s a 1GB download that you “must” download via iTunes, because … well … because … um … Apple hates web browsers? I don’t know. Hard to see why it is downloaded via iT at all, really. It is rather strange.

(EDIT: it has now dropped to being a 230 MB download; I have no idea why – it was only a hundred meg or so into the alleged 1 GB download when it crashed, and when I retried it became 230 MB. Odd…)

And yes – it really *is* downloading a website file (that’s all it’s doing):

GET /,2_3.0_7A341_Restore.ipsw HTTP/1.1
User-Agent: iTunes/8.2 (Macintosh; N; Intel)
Connection: close

That’s missing a key line. The line that resumes the download from where it left off. Apple apparently decided to write a “crap” web-browser, and embed it inside iTunes. Why? Why, when they have one of the world’s best web-browsers, do they insist on writing an extra one – and missing out fundamental basic features (like resumable downloads)?

There are occasional latency spikes on my net connection. iTunes is such a terrible “web browser” that when this happens, it arbitrarily (note: no other web browser would do this!) decides to cancel the download. There is no “resume” option and no “retry” option.

Congratulations, Apple! Having 2 copies of the same “core” software, one which works and one which doesn’t, and not allowing the user to use the “good” one when they need to? You’re well on your way to becoming Microsoft :).