Monday, July 10, 2006

Houston Public Library website, why you gotta cut me like that? (scroll to end for awesome library hack)

I logged in, tried to renew all my books, and got a warning message, "THIS WILL ATTEMPT TO RENEW ALL BOOKS, IS THIS OKAY?"

Yes, please, I will click on your superfluous window. Oh, noes! An error message:

My record is IN USE BY THE SYSTEM! Well, that will never do! I guess I'll just try again.

You know, later.

Five minutes wasn't enough time.

Huh, that's kinda, uh, funny. Because, you know, I totally didn't have anything better to do in 5 minutes. Good thing I have a copy of MWSnap installed for taking screenshots of error messages that are totally worthless.

Seriously, I know this is a non-profit organization. Good thing the bar is set so much lower for non-profits, especially ones with a monopoly on that particular service.

Way to make me gun-shy about using your resources, you cretins. When it works, your website's pretty decent. Oh, but it doesn't work right at this exact moment, so I guess I'll try again later.

Nope, still in use by the system. Since I'm a second-class citizen who reads uncataloged fiction paperback, if I lose the book, well, I'm absolutely screwed and there's no way to know what I checked out, and I can't even replace it.

Back in 1997, "Uncataloged Science Fiction Paperback A" cost me about $22. I moved and naturally, the library's notices weren't being forwarded. A few months later, I be-bopped into my now-local branch, and discovered I was in the hole for quite a bit. Personally, I think any science fiction paperback whose author's last name started with "A" should have been acceptable.

Overall, not the most awesome user experiences I've ever had.

Oh, it finally worked. I'll just check these over...

AWESOME! Some of the books that reported they were renewed fine now are showing additional information "TOO MANY RENEWALS" along with the due date. See, that's the reason for the earlier modal window. I wonder if I did 3 renewals in 3 days if it would trip the trigger and force me to return the books early.

Stupid libraries. This is why PDFs were created.

One more couple of clicks to test...

NO! Clicking renew over and over pushes out your due date all the way to the final third 2-week period! Some of my books are now due 8/8/06, over a month from now. Of course, some are due in only 8 days. Could we not use a moving average or something, people?

LIBRARY HACK! Immediately after checking out your books, go double-renew them! You now have 6 weeks, rather than 2 weeks. Of course, you can't renew them again.


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