speaking of busts...

My HP laptop was picked up yesterday for its second bout of warranty service. I should have it back soon. But read on for the story of what happened when I played good customer and followed the support tech's advice.

After the first failure, in which the laptop spontaneously died, it came back working except that the stupid trackpad kept enabling and disabling at random, as though that stupid button I didn't want was being pressed. Then, the internal speakers stopped working.

But the worst part of the experience was when the HP e-mail support told me to install a new driver for my trackpad, and that this would fix the problem. I dutifully did so, prepared to write back within 10 minutes that it hadn't worked. After I installed the driver in Windows XP, I rebooted (as directed) and chose Linux at the bootloader screen. And the trackpad worked just fine! Not a problem was seen the rest of the evening in several hours of use. I was about ready to turn in my "I know a hardware problem when I see it" badge, even though I couldn't fathom why it made a difference in Linux that I had upgraded the driver in Windows---Firmware update which improved the de-bounce of the hardware switch? Who knows.

Thankfully, the next morning when I used the laptop again, the problem was back. The problem has been intermittent ever since I first noticed it, and the frequency with which the problem occurs seems to be related to the angle of the screen with respect to the body of the notebook, and the angle of the body on my work tray. I guess I had found, for a few hours, the perfect angle that minimized the problem. And nearly convinced myself that the problem was solved.

Later, but before the laptop was actually picked up by HP, I got an e-mail inviting me to fill in an online survey of how I felt about their online support. Well, I tried not to be too rude, though you have to keep in mind that I still didn't (don't) have a working laptop. Then, on the last page, I was talking about how one of their e-mails had quoted some <verbatim text> from my initial e-mail, in a way that made me think no human had read the response that looked like it was supposed to be written by a person. So what happens after I hit the "Next" button? I get an error, with some kind of java-looking traceback, saying that it had deteted some "dangerous text", and it showed the part where I had *gasp* used text in <angle brackets>. I hit the back button, which they had managed *not* to break, and spent a good two or three pages cussing out HP for hiring such a crap firm to do their customer surveying.

Guys, wake up. Software is for the users. When a person innocently writes what the software thinks might be an HTML tag, is should the software give some incomprehensible error message just because some programmer thought about "security" and had read something about "XSS" once? I'm about to degenerate into incoherence here, because this level of stupidity is just unbelievable to me. How hard is it to quote the entered text later when it is displayed? Or to bang the angle brackets into some other character, but not bother the user about it? No, what the developer should do is arrange to show a pageful of computer gibberish to a poor home user whose computer was already giving them problems. That's just what *I* would do.

PS Aether displayed the text in angle brackets just fine, thank you very much.

Entry first conceived on 8 April 2005, 1:35 UTC, last modified on 15 January 2012, 3:46 UTC
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