Saturday, 25 May 2013

Wifi company seeks the Dunghead 2013 prize

Nowadays I spend a lot of time connected to the net by The Cloud from branches of Caffe Nero.
The trouble is it is a bad service. It takes a lot of effort to connect in some places; and you have to remember that you will almost certainly be cut off without warning, which can lead to loss of data. Sometimes it is within 10 or 15 minutes, sometimes after hours; but in a day it can occur 2 or 3 times and there is no pattern.
Often it is difficult to login. Their database is unreliable and records disappear. If the record cannot be found, they post a message (if you're lucky) saying "I'm afraid that's lost with the clouds" or something like that, which I am sure the inane smartarses at The Cloud think is funny.
I challenged them on that and they explained that it means "your browser does not allow cookies". I responded that by no stretch of meaning could "I'm afraid that's lost with the clouds" mean "Your browser does not allow cookies" (it was at that moment that I discovered the existence of Modern British, the democratic language structure for evading meaning) and also that my browser does allow cookies.
They didn't apologise or admit that they had lied; but they said the message would be altered. It has not been altered.
One is referred to this help desk when they do not connect you to the net: they give you an email address. It does not seem to have occurred to them that if they do not connect you then you cannot send an email.
But when you do send it, they may or may not answer in about 5 days. They never apologise beyond a railway sorry for anything.
But if everything goes well then it is a cheap way of connecting, if you don't mind making sure you always have your current work at least in the RAM of a non-net application and don't mind spending 10 to 15 minutes connecting
I have purchased an external wifi receiver because it brings more control. The inbuilt PC system allows Free Pub Wifi across the street to connect; and it fights back if you try to disconnect it. Or else BT cuts in. Where I am, Caffe Nero, they seem to have gone for the cheapest option and the result is it rarely connects of its own will to The Cloud. I have complained to Caffe Nero and they have not bothered to answer.
Today I connected to The Cloud at 10:26 a.m. but my browser couldn't find any page. First I had to login. Fair enough, though I have never gained any benefit from them knowing who I am. Supposedly, The Cloud intercepts a call to the web page one chooses and takes you to its login, where, as I said, it may or may not grant you entry.
Now when it does that, logs you in, it leaves you there. Clearly the intention was to return you to the page you sought -- you can see that url being passed as an argument of the interception -- but it is at that point their programming skills failed them. I suppose they didn't cut and paste everything. So one must call the page a second time.
But you can't do that if it doesn't intercept. Sometimes, I poll their website myself and that sometimes works; but this morning I had to poll it one hundred and three times before it responded. 102 times The Cloud said it couldnt find the The Cloud website.
The website responded at 10:40, 13 minutes after I connected. Free Pub Wifi connects almost immediately so it is just a matter of a trash system.
When it responds, it does so with a link to click on. Usually 6 or 7 clicks are all it takes!
Then you go to another link to click. The record for that is now 24.
I imagine the whole thing running on an Amstrad CP/M machine.
It's at this point that you get the "lost with the clouds" crap and from now on have the
excitement of guessing when you will be cut off. Yesterday was the latest time that my email was "lost in the clouds" but I was simultaneously welcomed by my correct name so it wasn't lost at all. Who said quantum computing is far in the future. All I had to do was clear my cache and login again and everything was fine.
So they waste about 30 minutes of my time each day. On average. It did once tgakes me 3 and a half hours to connect, but I worked on paper while they finished playing with themselves.
If the company is really successful, I expect some of them will be made Lords. Then they can lecture us on waste and productivity

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