Friday, March 19, 2010

Computers Are Supposed to Make Life Easier, Not Have The Cops Raid Your Home

Rose and Walter Martin are an elderly couple living in Brooklyn, NY. They are 82 and 83, and he is a WWII veteran. Does this sound like a bloodthirsty crime spree duo? Unfortunately for them, the police department’s computer system thinks so.

Since 2002, the police have raided their home more than 50 times, sometimes multiple times a week. It has taken the police 8 years to finally figure out that it was a computer “glitch” that led them on these errant invasions. During a “test” of the system their address was added. The police never removed all the test cases all this time. Now they are using the computer to flag the Martin’s address and make sure they “Double check” that it isn’t a mistake.

“Shall we play a game?”

Direct link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAcEzhQ7oqA

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Night of Surprises Makes the Fandango Experience a Bad One

It’s rare that I’m able to go to the movies, which is tough for me because I’ve always enjoyed going to a good movie. It is hard though when you have a 5 year old, a 7 year old and a 5 month old. When a movie-going opportunity presents itself, I jump all over it. That happened last night. To prepare for this uncommon event, I went online to Fandango. I had been using the iPhone app to see movie times recently in the hopes of going, so I went a step further and actually purchased the tickets through Fandango. Fandango printout in hand and babysitter in place, we were ready to go.

Last night was not only movie night, it was also bad weather night. Getting to the theater proved time consuming because some roads were closed due to flooding. The trip took almost an hour instead 15 minutes, so we ended up late instead of early. When we finally did arrive, the cashier at the theater looked at my Fandango printout and asked for my credit card. I didn’t have it. I keep the credit card I use for online purchases at home. We move to the side and call the babysitter, who gets us the credit card info. Back on line, back to the cashier. Success! Time to move on to important decisions like what treats to overspend on at the popcorn counter.

With refreshments in tow, we move to the theater. As we arrive 30 minutes late, we walk into a completely empty room with commercials playing on-screen. Confused, I walk out and talk to the ticket-taking-dude and ask why there is no movie playing in Theater 8. He gets his manager who looks confused as well. The movie had been cancelled because the heat wasn’t working in that theater. How were we even able to purchase tickets he asked? Fandango.

While I enjoy things with Fandango like the ability to easily see movie times online or on my iPhone, they have yet to extend the experience to purchasing tickets. I don’t expect them to know if a particular theater has heat problems on any given night. I do expect them to have thought through the things they can’t manage that create bad experiences and know how to help customers through them.

Also, I’ve purchased tickets online for other events like baseball games that allow me to print out my ticket at home. That printout looks like a ticket and works like a ticket when I present it at the event. With Fandango, they make the printout look like a ticket, leading you to believe you’ll have the same experience. There should be an image of half a ticket on there with an image of your credit card next to it letting you know you need both to get into the theater.

Maybe I will try out Fandango in a year or so to see if they have changed anything. In the meantime, I’m going to old-skool-it and buy the tickets at the movie theater. The guy selling me the tickets there will know if there is heat on or not.