Browser Checker

Mark Wescott wrote to a Blackboard Learn 9 list,

Imagine a world where Bb Inc. provides browser checkers for each Rev/SP combo, and all we (aka “The Customers”) have to do is place a link on our Bb logon page to the browser checker that matches our production environment…. mmmm serenity.

Said browser checkers would:

  • be GREAT customer service; EVERY institution that uses Bb would benefit
  • be relatively simple for Bb Inc’s staff to create
  • be branded with Bb’s logos and marketing
  • be up to date
  • be released commensurately with each SP
  • have a static, publicly available URL
  • be found on the Course Sites logon page
  • eliminate a topic that appears about every 6 months on this board

Sadly, we Blackboard Vista clients have Mark’s “imagine a world”. Yet still the topic appears in our email lists every time a new web browser or version of Vista was released. Why?

  • Telling a user their web browser may have problems is not a deterrent. Their (correct) opinion is Blackboard should fix the product so the browser they use every day will work. Students and instructors should not have to become a computer geek to take or teach a class.
  • Blackboard only checks a small amount of browser and operating system combinations, so potentially fine web browsers were marked “not tested”. Blackboard has better things to do than test the long tail of browsers. So users have stopped trusting the browser checker because untested browsers often do work. The browser checker has cried “Wolf!” too many times for people to believe it.
  • The browser checker is not consistent with the official supported browser list. Oh, and that is intentional. Browsers which used to work are nor removed from the list unless clients make a stink about them not working. Blackboard stopped testing them, so they are clueless whether it continues to work, but users are not alerted to the problems.

Imagine a world where Blackboard products work in every web browser because it does not reply on coding for specific browsers. You know… Web Standards.

 

Plus Size Soccer Jerseys

Some things are easy to buy online. A few times in the past month I’ve gone looking for a soccer jersey for any of the many football (soccer to my fellow Americans) team I follow. Three futile hours later, I am considering changing which football I follow since stores can carry appropriately sized apparel for it. I’m someone who wears a fairly rare to find size of 3XLT. (Or 4XL when tall is not an option. Or sometimes 3XL for teeshirts, but that usually means exposed back when I sit.)

It annoys me to find a design I like for a reasonable price only to discover there is no size available to me. In bricks and mortar stores, it means never returning until I hear they have a “Big and Tall” section hidden somewhere not obvious.

Here is a place where the Long Tail falls down. According to it, online stores, with their enormous warehouses can better afford to carry a more broad selection of less frequently selling items. They give us more choice. Therefore, it means I ought to find more choice online. For things not in my size, this is true. There is tons of choice. The same stores in a mall who carry clothing in the right sizes seem perfectly capable of offering a wider selection. Yet, an online store like Amazon can’t make it easy for me to find clothing that fits?

My main beef with Worldsoccershop.com is the lack of product in a size I can wear. (The one jersey would make me a Chelsea supporter.) They do get a couple things right.

  1. Quality search: I can put 4xl in the search and get back items with a size of 4xl. All these sites have a search. However, for many sites, size doesn’t appear to be a relevant word. The term “4XL” lands items with “XL” in the name. Useless!
  2. Narrow results by size: Brand, price, and seller are options Amazon offers for narrowing the search to more useful options. How is size not important enough to include? Useless!

Ultimately, I guess not enough people my size have enough interest in soccer jerseys. They end up American football or basketball or baseball fans which have clothes large enough for me. Maybe I should switch sports allegiances? It would help my political allegiances.