[Talk] Chilling effect?

Enno Davids enno.davids at metva.com.au
Tue Feb 24 23:29:40 EST 2004

On Tue, Feb 24, 2004 at 09:11:40PM +1000, Greg Black wrote:
|On 2004-02-24, Leon Brooks wrote:
|> On Tue, 24 Feb 2004 15:39, Greg Black wrote:
|> > But they also allow you to click on a
|> > button to go ahead and try anyway and they allow you to tick a
|> > box to avoid being reminded about this next time.
|> For one month. Then NAB asks you to go download IE or NS again. Every 
|> month.
|As was made clear in the sentence that you cut that immediately
|preceded the above quote.
|The point is that two extra mouse clicks per month is not really
|a burden; their banking site works fine with all the browsers
|that I've bothered to try.
|What bothers me is that all these idiots who write tests to see
|if you have the right browser or the required extra stuff like
|java or javascript neither know how to determine what you have
|nor do they know what impact it will have.  What we really need
|is to put an end to idiots writing software that drives business
|web sites.
|As a group, AUUG would do far more good in this world if we were
|to start campaigning for better software standards in general
|rather than whining about having to click a mouse occasionally.

OK... time to out myself...

Those of you in Vic will know that for a (long) while there I worked at
the NAB. Looking after the webservers as it happens. So here's some rank,
personal opinion on my part...

The issue here is not conservatism, or lack of clue in their developers (read
that carefully... I am not saying the NAB developers are clueful, I'm saying
that that, in particular, is not the issue!).

The issue is strictly commercial. To 'support' other browsers, they need
to test on them (pretty much nightly during development), write call centre
scripts for people who ring in and say they're having trouble with Opera
(insert your preferred browser here guys) or whatever you've chosen, and
generally spend a lot of cash to support what is currently something under
0.1% of their customer base. (And remember I've seen the webserver logs
on this!) :-P

So, the upshot.... Not gonna happen.

Be thankful though. We did manage to at least argue them around to allowing
other browsers to get in. There was a time when it locked you out if you
weren't on IE. It helped that us system admins were all sitting on Suns and
using Netscape to browse, but eventually they at least left the door open
for users to try it themselves. (Agreed its not a completely convenient
door... but hey, small victories).

Personally, I'd like to see it made easier to use other platforms for these
things, but banks in particular have to guard against the fact that not all
browsers are equally safe. And if your money goes pffft, you're going to ring
them and complain... You won't likely sit there saying "Gee maybe I shouldn't
have done my finanacial transactions in a browser written in Ruby that I just
refreshed from CVS". (Once agian, choose whichever language you like or
loathe the most there...)

Having said that, the way forward is clear. Right now FOSS browsers are
such small numbers they can be ignored. In fact, they must be ignored in
any sensible costs/benefits analysis. We need more numbers. Its that simple.
And if you want to spend less effort, we can get by on fewer more significant
numbers. Get Kerry Packer's secretary to internet bank with Mozilla and
you're likely on a winner. Get Coles-Myer to make Mozilla a corporate desktop
standard and you're in. (I'll disclaim that I have no idea if either of
those parties bank's with the NAB... I'm using them as illustrative of
customers with pull only... whoever they're customers of). Or get 1 million
account holders to switch allegiance. Any of these things will attract
attention from the people who control the purse strings.

I'll note in the interim, those browsers (like Opera) that can set their
user agent strings to something more econimical with the truth are also good
value here.

As I said up front... all just my 2c on the subject.


(And yes I know Opera is neither free nor particularly open...)

More information about the Talk mailing list