PDA

View Full Version : Programmer idiocy for higher education.



cptkrf
02-25-2015, 12:30 PM
I had offered to help a woman register at the local junior college from her own computer, rather than going on campus and using one in the student center - a parking issue, not any dislike of the facilities. So far she had been unable to do so.

I soon found why. She has a cheapo Win PC, of course, but I took my Air. Went to the web site and instantly got an “Unsupported Browser Message. Along the lines of “Unsupported browser version. Safari version 6.4.2 required.”

Cranking up her machine, the message was “Unsupported browser version, the one of the following versions is required.”

Internet Explorer 6.0.SP3
Internet Explorer 7.0.5002
Internet Explorer 8.0.6603

(I’m making the version minor numbers up - I didn’t memorize them.

In other words, the programmers hard coded the website to a particular browser version(s).

Now this is not a small rural school. For a junior college it is very large (and so are my taxes for support) and has been around for a century. It has a vast IT department and fast wifi all over the campus. The internet service is very fast and with no filters - only your student ID is needed. Lots of companies would wish their IT was as professional.

So. WTH?

I got her registered by spoofing the browser version, then started to try to find out the idiocy of requiring browser versions that probably can’t be found. First, it was not done locally - it was farmed out to a company specializing in college front ends.

Email to the company about the fact that I had no way of downloading Safari 6.4.2 and it probably wouldn’t run on my machine if I did and anyway, Apple does not allow older versions of software to be loaded on top of newer.

Of course, the first message I got back was canned, and talked about the company’s extreme concern about making the user experience as wonderful as possible, and the necessity of security (with I.E. 6 ???) and such rot.

Next, I sent an email with pseudo legal stuff about locking out financially challenged (read, poor) students who can’t just buy a particular PC to get a single version of a browser - that would be replaced on the first update - and did they really want to help rich kids get ahead of the pack? That got a real email from a real person, but to the point that “We give the college what they want. You don’t like it, take it up with them.”

Since my student days are far in my past, I didn’t really want to get in a fight with the Registrar over something that did not concern me directly, so I dropped it.

But I am still astounded at the idiocy of hard coding to a browser minor release.

pigoo3
02-25-2015, 12:45 PM
"...Safari version 6.4.2 required.”


But I am still astounded at the idiocy of hard coding to a browser minor release.

Are you saying that the ONLY Safari version the system will accept is Safari 6.4.2…or is it that Safari 6.4.2 or newer is what is required?

Since Mavericks runs Safari 7, and Yosemite runs Safari 8. I would think that MANY of the students using Safari would be running newer OS versions with newer versions of Safari than 6.4.2.

- Nick

Slydude
02-25-2015, 01:04 PM
This isn't exactly uncommon though it is getting better. There are some banks/financial institutions for example that require Internet Explorer for example.

One of the sites I need for work does not play nice with the Mac version of Safari. I know it works with the PC versions of IE and Chrome. Haven't tried the Mac version of Chrome yet. It's not exactly my favorite browser. This site is about the only reason I have Windows 7 running in a virtual machine when needed.

cptkrf
02-25-2015, 01:04 PM
Are you saying that the ONLY Safari version the system will accept is Safari 6.4.2…or is it that Safari 6.4.2 or newer is what is required?

Since Mavericks runs Safari 7, and Yosemite runs Safari 8. I would think that MANY of the students using Safari would be running newer OS versions with newer versions of Safari than 6.4.2.

- Nick

No. Those versions only. Had it been "this version or newer" that would have been fine, even prudent. I didn't believe it for a while, but if I spoof any number over and under those numbers, it doesn't work.

I wondered why there were so many computers around the walls of the student center for registration when every student already has a laptop. That is why. Most have no knowledge of why they can't register from home or how to bypass it.

The head of IT was a customer of mine for years. If he is still there I may stop by and ask him what is the deal. But not today. We are snowed in (In East Texas ???!!!)

pigoo3
02-25-2015, 01:33 PM
No. Those versions only.

Just so I'm 100% clear on this. You're saying that ONLY Safari 6.4.2 is acceptable to this system?? If so...Yikes…that's pretty terrible if it's hard-coded this way.

I think that newer Mac OS versions MUST run Safari 7 (Mavericks) or Safari 8 (Yosemite). If Safari 6.4.2 is the ONLY version this system will accept (without spoofing)…that is INSANE. Since (I would bet) 90% or more students with Mac's would be running Mavericks or Yosemite (or at least a majority of them) with newer Safari versions.


Had it been "this version or newer" that would have been fine, even prudent.

100% agree. This college must not be very "Mac-Friendly". Or at least not the registrars office!

- Nick

vansmith
02-25-2015, 02:11 PM
Now this is not a small rural school. For a junior college it is very large (and so are my taxes for support) and has been around for a century. It has a vast IT department and fast wifi all over the campus. The internet service is very fast and with no filters - only your student ID is needed. Lots of companies would wish their IT was as professional.If I've learned anything in the last few years, the size and prominence of an educational institution has no relationship to its IT capabilities (which, you'd think wouldn't be the case).


I got her registered by spoofing the browser version, then started to try to find out the idiocy of requiring browser versions that probably can’t be found. First, it was not done locally - it was farmed out to a company specializing in college front ends.This only makes it worse since, not only would you have to deal with the bureaucracy that is a post-secondary institution but now you get to deal with a business that probably doesn't care. Oh joy...


But I am still astounded at the idiocy of hard coding to a browser minor release.As much as interoperability has gotten better, it's certainly not perfect nowadays (http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2015/02/pointer-events-finalized-but-apples-lack-of-support-still-a-deal-breaker/). I imagine that coding in browser names and versions will be a thing for some time to come.

cptkrf
02-25-2015, 02:28 PM
Just so I'm 100% clear on this. You're saying that ONLY Safari 6.4.2 is acceptable to this system?? If so...Yikes…that's pretty terrible if it's hard-coded this way.

- Nick

Yes, 100%. In fact, the reason that this post is five weeks after registration is because I knew that it had to be ME doing something wrong. No way was I going to believe that what I was seeing was true. It had to be my Ad-Block, or Ghostery, or something on my Air that was giving the ridiculous result. Or cookies, or my negative attitude on flash. Anything besides what I was seeing.

Spoofing to X.X.567 works.
Spoofing to X.X.566 or X.X.568 gives unsupported browser page.