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12 Jun 2005
A friend wrote describing his wife's experience activating a new credit card. She had to call an 800 number, which connected to an automated system that made her sit through a long ad for a worthless registration or credit report service before it admitted that her card was good. I think all big banks do that now.
I realize one way that we geeks differ from the range of normal computer users is that we expect to have control over our computers. For most people, their experience of a Windows PC is that strange things happen, they don't know why, they don't know what to do about it. Windows pop up all the time. They used to say "Install oompha flooba greep. OK?" but now since Windows XP SP2 they say "Install oompha flooba greep. This may be very, very, very, dangerous. OK?" and they click OK anyway because as often as not, it's not. (I got that message a few days ago about Microsoft's own applet that figures out which updates to Office you can apply.)
They can't tell the popups that are part of the ESPN or Orbitz web sites from Gator spyware. But we can.
So when I got my my most recent credit card, I noticed that I had the option of phone or web activation, so I chose web activation because I knew that I could make the crud go away via a combination of popup blockers and clickthroughs, wresting control back from the droid that would otherwise have made me sit through an ad for credit card insurance.
Since we're used to control, we get particularly bent out of shape at attempts to take it away from us. But most people lost that long ago.
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