Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

EasyParkDowntown.org as it looks in Firefox
(click to embiggen)


EasyParkDowntown.org as it looks in Internet Explorer
(click to embiggen)

The Dayton Daily News had an article today about the Downtown Dayton Partnership's fancy new EasyParkDowntown.org website. The article's author, Tim Tresslar, must be a faithful reader of David Esrati's blog because this is not the first time he's written about something that Esrati wrote about first (update: actually Dayton Business Journal wrote about it first). Esrati's blog entry about EasyParkDowntown.org was not favorable.

And I have to say I'm not impressed with EasyParkDowntown.org either, but for other reasons, namely web design reasons. The interactive map on the site was created using Adobe Flash, a cumbersome tool for websites (read some of my earlier gripes about Flash on websites), and the coder added some JavaScript to his page to make sure the Flash object is resized to take up the entire size of the browser window. Actually it makes the Flash object larger than the browser window, cutting off text and making it impossible to scroll down to see the rest of the content, especially in Firefox but even in Internet Explorer. Their helpful "Let's get Started" text mentions buttons you can click in order to hide or show layers of information on their map, but you can't see the buttons if your web browser's set to a size their web developer didn't anticipate (for example, maximized Firefox or Internet Explorer windows on my 1920x1200 laptop screen or my 1440x900 external LCD)!

Did anyone even look at this application after it was published but before it was announced to the world?

From the work I do I know that some organizations are willing to pay big bucks, thousands of dollars, for applications such as this (for example), and they're too ignorant to know better. I gleaned the data from EasyParkDowntown and rolled my own webpage based on Google Maps in a couple hours. Check it out and see if you don't agree that it's friendlier to end users: www.davidlauri.com/easyparking

Here's one way in which my version is friendlier — try printing from my version and try printing from EasyParkDowntown.org. Completely ignoring the fact that if you print using your browser's File->Print command on their site you won't get what they intended, even if you do realize that to print you have to click on their print icon (the little pic of the page at the right of the icons below their map), what you get isn't at all useful. Want a list of parking garages to take with you? You're not gonna get it from EasyParkDowntown.org!

One last gripe — if you're coming downtown to go to the Oregon District, you won't find any of its parking on EasyParkDowntown.org. Is it because most people don't consider the Oregon District to be part of downtown (or Greater Downtown)? Or is it because the Oregon District Business Association wouldn't participate in the Special Improvement District tax that funds the Downtown Dayton Partnership?

Saturday, February 14th, 2009
I took some photos from my balcony today. You can see them in the galleries.
Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Affordable Healthcare sends junk faxesWhy would anyone buy insurance from these people?
The fine people at “Affordable Healthcare” have been sending faxes periodically to my office for months. We never contacted them to ask them to fax us. I have a couple times called them to ask them to stop faxing us. It's a waste of time to do so, I know, but sometimes it makes me feel a tad better. I never call the fax removal line they have on their faxes because that doesn't work and because you don't get to talk to a human being if you do that. Instead I call the enrollment number. Today the first guy who answered hung up on me — which should be an indication of the type of company this is — while the second guy was polite although a liar, I'd bet, because he asked for my fax number and promised he'd put it on their do not fax list but I'll be amazed if we don't get another fax from them.

It's not as if their faxes cost us much money because faxes we receive don't get printed out on paper but rather get converted to PDFs and e-mailed to me, but unlike SPAM e-mail, which you can filter, faxes you have to open and look at to see what they are, and when you've got clients and attorneys and mortgage companies faxing, it's not like you can block faxes from unknown numbers.

So, while I know that “Affordable Healthcare” doesn't really give a damn whether their unsolicited faxes annoy me, I can feel a bit better today knowing that if anyone googles their number, 888-316-6658, or their so-called fax removal line, 866-405-3776, or their name, then they'll see my little rant about them.

Unfortunately I also know that, as with SPAM e-mail, there must be enough stupid people out there who will just call “Affordable Healthcare” and sign right up. People wouldn't SPAM or send junk faxes if it didn't pay.

March 16th update: Got another fax that looks just like this one except that there's a new toll-free number, 888-373-9521, although the fax removal line, 866-405-3776, is the same. Just for the hell of it, I called 888-373-9521 and spoke to 2 different people. The first person transfered me to their fax removal line. I got him again when I called back, and he hung up on me. I called back yet one more time and got someone else, who told me I could call their marketing department at 877-333-2333, which, of course, turned out to be someone who didn't know anything about this. The second best thing to do with these junk faxes is to fax them back using FaxZero.com (the best thing to do, of course, being just to ignore the faxes).

 
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david@davidlauri.com