365 Days of Random

Random musings about nothing at all


Does anyone have anything good and nice to say about the DMV? I didn’t think so…. at least I’ve never met anyone that has had a less than frustrating experience there. This morning for my BF and I was no exception.

A couple of weeks ago my BF’s license expired. It was on his birthday while I was in Vegas. He had my car so got up the morning of his birthday and went straight to the DMV to get it sorted out. He was there for a good chunk of time before they told him the could not renew his license because of some infraction from when he lived in Maryland (about 5 years ago) that needed to be addressed. Here’s the kicker… the license he has now he got LAST YEAR and they never said anything about this unresolved issue. So, he returned home, complete with a list of things to do so that he could get it taken care of and get his license renewed. He had to call some phone number, who proceeded to tell him to call another number, who also told him to call someone else, who then told him to call the second people again and so on and so on. FINALLY after a few days of the run around he got it all sorted out and sent over to the Virginia DMV so that he could get his VA license renewed.

This morning I offered to get up early with him, drive him over to the DMV right when it opened (so that we wouldn’t have to wait a super long time in line), wait with him while he got the license stuff taken care of and then drop him off at work on my way into the office. Tuesdays is my climbing night so normally I go to Squeak’s place in the morning and we drive in together. Yesterday she had left her car at the office so I was heading there to pick her up after we were done at the DMV. Problem… we were at the DMV for more than an hour and a half because there was some issue with his class M license. He’d gotten his motorcycle license last year and they wanted to make him retest (as in driving test on a bike) again this morning before they’d renew it….. When he said that was ridiculous and handed him other information about getting the license within the last 12 months they made him wait while they ‘looked into it’. It was crazy how long we waited. Squeaks ended up taking the metro to work so that we BOTH weren’t crazy late this morning.

I’ve lived in the DC/VA area for just shy of 5 years now. I’ve been to the DMV more than a few times in the time period. I’ve NEVER come out of there feeling like they were helpful or friendly or anything positive. I am almost always frustrated by it. Today it wasn’t even my stuff and they were pissing me off. It’s crazy. They are all grumpy and they have the most inefficient system I’ve ever seen. You’d think for the work they do they’d have figured out ways to simplify the process and make it go faster. My biggest frustration with them is that they don’t seem capable of telling you all the things that you need to do to take car of something if/when there is a problem completing whatever transaction you went there to complete. You get up to the counter, they tell you there is a problem and you need to go home and do/get X. Once you do that you can come back and we’ll help you out (sure they will). Then you get back there and they tell you “Thanks for doing X but now you need to go back and do Y because we still can’t complete your request” ARGHHHH!!! Why on earth didn’t they tell you that the FIRST time you were there so you could go take care of everything before you came back.

Honestly, the Virginia DMV is one of the most frustrating experiences you can have. They are in serious need of some “Service Design” expertise.

But, all in all I am glad that I went with my BF this morning. If for no other reason that to make him laugh enough so that he didn’t wring the neck of the insanely grumpy old man that was ‘helping’ him.


July 26, 2011 Posted by | Random, User Experience | , , , , | Leave a comment


I am not sure if any of you out there are at all familiar with “VoiceOver” for Mac… but it’s been frustrating the crap out of me all day so it’s what today’s post is about.

VoiceOver is the built in Mac (OS X Snow Leopard) Screen Reader. It has been developed to assist visually impaired and blind people interact with their Mac computers… both desk top and laptop. It can be set up to some of the same gesture commands that VoiceOver for iPhone uses and from all the reading I did today it sounds like a pretty simple to use tool.

For the first time in the 18 months I’ve been using Mac I am totally and completely flustered by something they built. I read their user guide and their getting started guide. I wrote notes about the short cuts to use. I practiced on all the sessions they had within their beginners tutorials. I watched all the videos they had on their website for setting up and using it. I could not for the life of me figure it out.

One of my responsibilities at my job is Accessibility. I run our testing and client outreach programs. I am the internal contact for all things Accessibility (well my boss and I both are). Yesterday we got an email from our Client Support team that they have a client at Ryerson University in Toronto that claims that using VoiceOver with Safari or Chrome crashes her browser… but only when using our product. First of all I can’t see how that would have anything to do with it crashing… but that’s the report so off to ‘testing mode’ I go. Since 90% of visually impaired users are still PC users (because generally Accessibility support is concentrated on that platfrom) our internal testing processes focuses on PC based browsers (IE and FF and even to some extent Chrome) with the most popular screen reader tool (JAWS). Over the last few years I’ve gotten fairly proficient at using this particular screen reader and can assess the components of our product rather thoroughly in no time at all. VoiceOver however is not a tool I’ve ever tried to use. As this is the tool that our client was reporting problems with I decided to spend the biggest part of my day trying to learn the tool.

Seriously… I still can’t figure out how to navigate ANY web page… let alone my complex Web Based Application. Very little worked the way it was described in the documentation. I couldn’t manage to get it to DO anything… I’ve been working in IT and software development focused positions for a very long time and it’s not often that I struggle to learn how to use a new piece of software… especially not when I have the user guide sitting in front of me and I can flip through it to learn the convoluted key strokes required to access a list of page headings or move between sections. This was one of the most frustrating days I’ve had in a very long time.

Not only am I no closer to an answer for our client (who apparently HAS managed to figure out how to use VoiceOver) but I am still just annoyed at that darn program. I haven’t figured out a single thing about using it in the 5 hours I’ve spent playing around with it today. This does not bode well for me being able to provide some helpful information to either our support team or our development team (if there is something going on that we have to fix).

But, I’ve had enough of screen reader testing for today… Perhaps tomorrow I will magically figure out how to make VoiceOver do what it’s supposed to do. But I will probably go back to some normal JAWS testing first – since at least I know how to use that product.

June 28, 2011 Posted by | Accessibility, User Experience | , , , , , , | Leave a comment