Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Computers (and their programmers) are Dumb, Dumb, Dumb!

Computers act really dumb when their programs get into situations their programmer failed to anticipate. (And there's at least a trillion of those.) I went to Mapquest to get driving instructions to a store about 70 miles from home. Mapquest was not willing to accept the address I entered. Its message said: “We have 150 locations at that address. Please choose your location.” A list followed on the web page.
Now you might think I could search the page for the name of the store, but no. The list of 150 stores was spread over ten web pages because, as I'm sure you know, to put them all on one page would be a terrible waste of invisible pixels. Fortunately I was able to type the store's name into a field and search again.
Why are there “150 locations at that address?” The store is in a mall. I could have picked ANY of the 150 locations, because the driving instructions to all of them are the same! And since the driving instructions were all the same, I'm sure there was no point asking me to choose a location.

Of course I'm being obtuse, there IS a reason to make me choose. Knowing what store I'm going to increases the value of the my search data to Mapquest. Too bad I can't charge them a nickel for wasting some of my time.

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