So I’m trying to buy a pair of shoes.

I have a Mastercard.

I was able to buy the shoes on the Selfridges site, but Harrods decline.

(I cancelled the Selfridges order because their postage options are crazy.)

I phone Harrods to place the order on the telephone.

I repeat – for the millionth time – the addresses and card details.

Card declined.

I log into my on-line bank to see what might be there.

Harrods have three lots of 400 GBP reserved (pending) on my account.

I presume they’ll come back in a day or so.

The very pleasent lady on the phone proposes putting me through to the shop floor to order directly.

Shop floor tells me I can only place an order if I have a Harrods Loyalty Card, or I’m calling from a land line.

I tell him I understand, and ask him to put me back through to Customer Satisfaction (or whatever their name is), as she asked to talk to me again if the order could not go through.

He tells me he cannot, as the phones on the shop floor do not provide this functionality.

So we say goodbye and we hang up because that’s all we can do.

So, no order, 1200 taken off my account for a day or two, and I lost touch with the woman who knew what was going on.


“show databases” works.

“show users” doesn’t.

You need to query a system table.

If you drop a user, and the user doesn’t exist, you et this error;

“ERROR 1396 (HY000): Operation DROP USER failed for ‘datamail’@’%'”

That’s what mySQL says when it means “can’t find user”.

I also discovered that mysql records in plaintext all commands to .mysql_log.

Including the passwords used to create users.

The only person non-idiot in the world is yourself

Wanted a pair of shoes.

Available on Selfridges. Ordered. 395 GBP. To my surprise you have to pay for postage. I pick the cheapest option – I didn’t look very closely, my mistake. 5 GBP, I assumed a week. After all, Amazon deliver free in a week. Other shoe stores deliver free in 3-5 days max.

I was wrong. You pay 5 GBP for a *two week* delivery.


I cancel the order. You can’t do it on-line – you have to email customer support. Their order process as advanced as their postal delivery service.

Go to Harrods, they offer 3-5 for 6 GBP. Order there. Except I can’t – they decline my card.


Give up on Harrods, now need to go back to Selfridges (these are the only two retailers) and sort out the order – so I’ve now spent the tedious time filling in all the order forms four times (retries at Harrods) and I need to do it another time AND I need to sort out the current order.

To make it more fun Selfridges say they only have two pairs left, and I could their site reversing pairs because I’d ordered or put a pair in my basket. Probably it won’t be till a day after the order is cancelled I can actually order again.

I realised, properly, on an emotional level, fairly recently, that every single organization in the world gets everything wrong, always. I now am down with this. I still think they’re bloody idiots. Total, serial, unmitigated, unrecoverable incompetents. DAYS to order a pair of shoes on-line.

Do not install sendmail – it breaks mail servers

I needed to send email from the command line.

I installed sendmail.

It fucked up my postfix configuration and didn’t work.

Now I need to fix postfix.


The posfix config stuff all remained but postfix was gone, so you could still issue the commands to start postfix – only nothing would run, because postfix was uninstalled, and there were absolutely no fucking errors or warnings or logs of any kind.

I’ve said it before. Open source quality is absolutely terrible. End-user experience is appalling.

One more vent

So, I tried Waitrose.

Their site wiped my server-side cart after an hour.

I tried Sainsburys.

Their site design is flawed and as such it was *after* an hour of shopping I then found out I could no longer book delivery the next day.

I then looked at Ocado.

Arrogant bunch. Believe me, I’m not going to give you my email address for you to spam just to find out if you deliver to my address, so I can give YOU money.

For lack of options, I tried Waitrose again.

This was a huge mistake.

The site worked without error for two hours.

Then when I came to checkout, it went wrong – of course, after allowing the maximum possible time invested before failure.

Instead of taking me to the checkout I was then asked to *log in*.

Long story short, the account creation process looks broken. The account was not really created. I spent an hour getting everything into the cart into the favourates list, as an insurance against the cart being wiped. It took an hour because the site went flakey; a lot of pages when opened wouldn’t load. Either at all, or they went to a log in page. The favourates page itself was not showing the full list of favourates. I had items opened which on their own page was showing them as in the list, but on the favourates page, was not.

I lost the delivery slot because this took so long, so I no longer wanted to buy.

I then saw I was now bwing shown the second page in the account creation sequence, where you select your password. I was pretty sure if I did that, the account would be wiped.

As an experiment, I logged out and logged back in. Logging in took me to the second page in the account creation process, so I selected my password a second time.

Lo and behold, both the cart and favourates list had been wiped.

That’s four fucking hours all told, utterly fucked away by good old Waitrose.

The up side is I’ve really learned my lesson : I’m not going to touch their site with a barge pole.

More venting

I’ve been looking around for other on-line supermarkets.

Just looked at Ocado.

First thing I want to know is – do they deliver to my postcode.

There is NOTHING about this on the home page.

Eventually, I look at the FAQ.

“How can I know if you deliver?”

“Best thing to do is register!”

I hate them.

For the hell of it, I register.

The registration dialog is broken. Is asks for title, first name, surname, postcode, phone number.

The title field is directly over and obscures the first name field. You can only get to the first name field, once you figure out it must exist, by hitting alt-tab.

Okay. I enter a ton of curse words and register.

Now I want to know if they deliver.

There is NOTHING about delivery on the page.

I click on “book delivery”.

FINALLY, there’s an option to check the postcode, a nice button, “check”.

Know what?

It doesn’t work.

Click on it, nothing happens.

There is something, some emergent set of pressures within *all* larger organizations, which move them methodically to being utterly fucked. I mean, sites and behaviour which is utterly hostile to their customers.

What these companies might do is open up their systems via APIs and allow third parties to make web-sites.

The team making the web-site are in a monopoly position, and their end-users do not pay them directly, so their site is appalling, for their end-users. Their *managers* think everything is fine, because all the metrics they collect (and I am certain they do) are competently gamed.

So here I am, now both utterly repelled by Ocado and physically unable to even know if their service is available (not that I would use it), and… managers are happy. All the metrics are green.

I gotta vent

In the UK now.

Trying to do on-line shopping.

First try, Waitrose.

First, a ton of problems trying to make a new account. I email them in detail about what happened.

Second, after an hour of careful shopping, finding all the stuff I need, their site empties my cart.

I email them about this too.

Second issue gets a reply first. “Our advice is to clear your cookies.”

You wouldn’t think it possible, but the quality of advice went downhill from there. I gave up and told them to close the ticket

First issue then received a reply. “Our advice is to clear your cookies.”

The actual problem is their site *tells* you *repeatedly* you’re making a new account, but if you use an email address from an *existing* account it *actually* tries to log you in, and so gives you the wrong error message – a message which is completely confusing given you are thinking you are making a new account.

There was no point talking to them, as their support team had completely ignored or failed to comprehend the detailed description of events, and so were not capable of conversation. I told them to close the ticket.

Total cost – one hour shopping on-line, one hour the next day needing to visit a supermarket and buy food.

Tonight I try shopping on-line with Sainsburys.

I log in, look at the available slots, there’s one one tomorrow (which I need), 7pm, for 3 GBP, I book it.

Dialog pops up.

“Your slot is 7 GBP.”


Well done, guys. You’re absolutely bloody useless.

(What it is – delivery is 7 GBP if you buy less than 40, then the amount shown in the slot-picking window if you’re over 40, and free if you’re over I think it was 70.)

When you book a slot, you’re told it’s only reserved till 11pm.

I wasn’t done by 11pm, site told me the slot was gone. That was fine – I saw I was running out of time, I didn’t want to miss anything in my order and I wanted to get over 40 GBP to save some money on delivery.

So time runs short, I figure, no worries, I’ll pick another slot.

I finish shopping, go to pick another slot.

At THIS point it becomes clear that if you do not order by 11pm, YOU CANNOT BOOK ANY DELIVERY FOR THE NEXT DAY.

Fuck me. You could have fucking TOLD ME. IT IS A SIGNIFICANT FACT. I DO CARE ABOUT IT.

I’m just… I’m speechless.

Can none of you make a fucking web-site which isn’t a total fucking ballups for people who for whatever reaosn don’t KNOW all the fuckups which are there to fuck them over?

I have a suspicion now the Waitrose site might have blanked my cart at 11pm. They also have an 11pm cut-off (and also don’t explain no more deliveries the next day – don’t know if it’s true but I expect it is).

So, fine, another hour wasted tomorrow getting to a shop to buy food.

I ditched Waitrose. Not for the cart clearing – it’s a bug, I don’t like it, but it happens – but for the customer support. Treat me like a fucking idiot with moronic, brain-dead replies and I *will* walk away. It’s that or think myself an idiot to keep buying from you. It’s *not* good for business to make your customers have to think they’re fuckwits if they do business with you.

Now I want to ditch Sainsburys. I’m running out of supermarkets. I’m pretty confident their web-sites are all fucked for new users, though. Basic thing is this – all web-sites are shit. All of them.

Minor update

I’ve been working on the freelist variant using hazard pointers.

It is trying to push an element which is already top of the freelist, which gives you an element pointing to itself.

Not clear why.

In other news, I tried to order a pair of shoes from Jones the Bootmaker. Their site, I would say, silently fails under Firefox. The ordering process is a loop, where placing the order takes you to the beginning of the ordering sequence.

I am beginning to come to the view that using web-sites to place orders is a mistake. Certainly it is the case that forms on web-sites never, ever, EVER work first time. They require at least two attempts to work, and often more – and this is when they *do* work. Increasingly I am finding order forms simply *do not work*. This is common enough it’s better simply to order over the phone at the start, rather than spending time on the order form, where it may or may not function.

This is why I order most things from Amazon. It works, without hassle. Random retailer web-sites on the web generally do *not* work, and are often problematic to navigate or utilize.

I visited the local lesuire center, to tour their gym. They have a room of spinning bikes, but these can only be used in a class. There is a single spinning bike in the gym itself. This is not viable. There is a pool, but it it closed in the hours after work three days a week. This is also not viable. I suspect a State subsidy.