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Cox Crow

Asking the Stupid Questions Since 1971
 Sunday, February 09, 2003

Exception Handling

I have no patience with computers.

The K-Mart near us has installed self-serve point-of-sale systems. These systems do not deal well with exceptions. By exceptions, I mean small children jumping in the bagging area. Or small children touching the pen to the screen when it is not expecting input.

Every time I've used one of these aisles, whether at K-Mart or A & P, has been an exercise in frustration. Because in addition to those abnormal events, the system cannot handle simple events, such the items that I just scanned actually being in the bagging area, or my signing the screen in the correct spot with the correct amount of pressure — or, God forbid, purchasing alchohol.

Now, the latter I can see as being a problem, as they are not ready to read the magnetic strip on the back of my driver's license. But these aisles are meant to alleviate the customer service demands on an inattentive staff. Instead, they are so poorly designed that normal, as well as deviant, use requires the intervention of said inattentive staff. Which means we have to wait.

And waiting is a Bad Thing.

There is no epistemological difference between artificial intelligence and the acceptance of badly designed computer software.
— Jaron Lanier, "One Half Of A Manifesto"

So I kicked the piece of shit aisle. And cussed in front of my daughter for the first time. And now they know how I treat the machines at work.

8:48:42 PM # Google It!
categories: Family