Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What if you lived in a world where nothing worked?

You know, like Bizarro world.

I think I've been slowly migrating into that world.

My MetLife experience today was typical. I have an ancient annuity with them (odd story), and I decided to try to update my online profile.

It went like this:

  1. Login with the default settings.
  2. Submit -- returns to login screen. No error message, just the login screen.
  3. Phone in, get password reset.
  4. Try again - get request to change password. Looks good.
  5. Login, oops, Back to #2.
  6. Do an online password reset. Notice button press doesn't seem to work with Firefox 2.
  7. Try it again with IE 7. It works.
  8. Now login again. back to #2.
  9. Wait -- what was that brief flicker of text? Something about a popup?
  10. Turn off IE 7 popup blocking.
  11. Try again.

The entire interaction with the MetLife web site occurs inside a popup window. The original login window remains behind, that's why I kept returning to the above step #2 when the popup was blocked.

Incidentally, if you ever want to hack into someone's account, I recommend MetLife. They implement the usual array of misguided security measures, including the laughable: "secret question". (Does any crook not know my mother's maiden name by now?)

I'm picking on MetLife, but these days I feel like a live in a great cloud of "stuff that doesn't work". Our world won't burn up or rust out, it'll just collapse in a great cascade of stuff that doesn't really work ...

PS. Most of the science fiction I've read assumed either a post-apocalyptic world or a world of uncanny reliability. Dysfunctional dystopias don't get their due. Terry Gilliam's (a famous Minnesotan!) Brazil and Twelve Monkeys are notable exceptions; Gilliam seems to have this niche to himself.

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