Monthly Archives: June 2012

Captchas, Passwords and the DSA

I moaned and groaned about captchas just over a year ago. Now I know who to blame!

He appears to want to make ammends for introducing this abomination to what would otherwise be the pleasure of registering for something. buying something etc. online. “At first I felt really good about that because I thought, ‘Look at the impact that I’ve had’,” he says. “But then I starting feeling bad.” And then he “devised ReCaptcha, a system that uses each human-typed response as both a security check and a means to digitise books one word at a time” ….. thereby adding, for me at least, even more annoyance!

I wanted to register with the Driving Standards Agency in order to check my CPC hours online and one of the captchas was a letter with a circumflex above the ‘a’! A British government website expecting users to have French keyboards.

The registration progress with the DSA is one of the most complex I’ve ever come across. It starts off simply by asking for your Driving Licence number and Postcode, enter those and click ‘Next’. That seemed a good start but the next page then says your login password will be mailed to you. ‘MAILED’ to you as printed and put into an envelope which a man comes by van to take to a sorting office, it’s then transported by van or train to a place somewhere near where I live where it’s again sorted and given to someone with a bike and a big bag of letters to deliver to my house. All this takes some days. My bank, which holds information I consider to be of the utmost confidentiality don’t go to these lengths. I really couldn’t careless if someone else were able to see how many CPC hours I’d accumulated. They can’t steal them like they could money if the accessed my bank account.

Anyway the letter finally arrived with my passord – s*76*i8d. The asterisks represent the same character but the character itself could be one of several; uppercase ‘i’, lowercase ‘l’ numeric ’1′. In order to be sure which it really is you need to know the typeface used in the printing of the letter. Try it in Word with various typefaces and you’ll see how a lowercase ‘l’ is the same as an uppercase ‘i’ in some typefaces. Anyway it kept rejecting my attempts to login and wouldn’t indicate whether I’d got the password wrong or the damned captcha. After about 20 attempts I gave up and rang the DSA.

Customer Service put me through to IT who couldn’t acess my password on the computer but could read a copy of the letter to me giving it with the result that they didn’t know what it was either! They the gave me a new simple one over the ‘phone. Why they can’t tell you how many CPC hours you’ve accrued over the ‘phone after asking ‘security questions’ my bank will tell me my balance by ‘phone after I’ve done the security bit.

All the good work gone to waste

If ever there is a bus company held up as a shining example of good customer relations, communications and service it is Trent Barton. Trent Barton pride themselves on the friendliness, helpfulness and general good nature of their drivers who know many of their regulars by their first name. They proudly have a Wall of Fame where drivers are acknowledged for what they do. For example “On a Friday evening in January a distressed lady got on Adrian’s H1 bus at Heanor. She explained to him that she had just lost her purse and that she needed to get to Derby. Adrian came up trumps with a free ride into Derby, and even provided her with £20 of his own money so she could get home safely, which she returned back to Adrian a few days later. How’s that for service!”.

So it was with complete dismay that I read the BBC news report of a young lady who’d been refused travel on the last bus of the night because she was 20p short of the required fare. She started to walk home and was then raped on the way. The bus company was Trent Barton.

Absolutely tragic on two fronts. Tragic in the extreme for the young lady and tragic in a different way for Trent Barton. All the hard work of employing those who they they think are the best drivers, then allowing them freedoms none of the national operators give to make their own decisions. I heard another story of a Trent Barton driver who’s bus broke down down buying all the passengers a cup of tea at a nearby cafe while they waited for a repalcement bus. He put the receipt in to the company who actually thanked him. Try doing that as a driver for one of the nationals!

A lot of Trent Barton’s hard work and investment blown by one ‘stupid’ driver. I’m sure that there must still be a pool of goodwill for Trent Barton but this goes to show just how one ill judged moment can ruin so much hard work.