VR, arvonlisävero ja “hintoja ei ole nostettu”

VR, oi VR.
Käytän palveluksiasi lähes päivittäin työmatkallani.
VR, oi VR.
Olen melko tyytyväinen siihen mitä saan vastineeksi matkasta maksamalleni rahalle.
VR, oi VR.
Silti aina välillä vituttaa.

Arvonlisävero (ALV) nostettiin tunnetusti vuoden 2013 alusta 24 prosenttiin. Vanha ALV oli 23 prosenttia (vastaavasti 9–>10 ja 13–>14).
Järkeilin itsekseni hintavaikutusta. Eikös se pitäisi olla prosentti?

VR, oi VR.

Ei tietenkään ole.

Alla katkelma usein kysytyistä kysymyksistä VR:n sivuilta:
Miksi junalipun hinta tutulla reitillä on noussut? Onko kaikkien lippujen hintaa nostettu?
Yleistä hinnankorotusta ei ole tehty. Tarjolla on erihintaisia lippuja, joilla on erilaiset myyntiehdot. Liput hinnoitellaan todellisen, kuljetun matkan mukaan ja hinta saattaa vaihdella, jos kohteeseen voi matkustaa vaihtoehtoisia reittejä. Lippu-uudistuksen myötä tarjolla on jokaiselle yhteysvälille erihintaisia lippuja. Ostamalla Ennakkolipun hyvissä ajoin verkkokaupasta matkan hinta on hyvin edullinen verrattuna aiempaan kiinteähintaiseen junalippuun.
(http://www.vr.fi/fi/index/junaliput/useinkysyttya_35.html)

“Yleistä hinnankorotusta ei ole tehty”.Ahaa, selvä.

Lasketaanpa hieman:
Käyttämäni lipun hinta 2012 oli 16,54 eur per lippu.
Sen hinta 2013 on 17,28 euroa.
Nopealla laskutoimituksella hintaa on nostettu noin 4,3 prosenttia.

Mikäli yleistä hinnankorotusta ei ole tehty (kuten UKK:ssa lukee), on hinta sitten vanha hinta + korotettu arvonlisävero.

Näin se ei kuitenkaan nyt sitten ole.

Ja sieltähän se löytyy, päivitetty melkein heti sen jälkeen kun asiasta VR:lle ensimmäisen kerran reklamoin (eli 2.1.2013):
Junalippujen hintoihin muutoksia

Junalippujen hintoihin on tullut muutoksia 1.1.2013 alkaen. Junalippujen hinnat kotimaan kaukoliikenteessä ja VR:n vyöhykeliikenteessä ovat nousseet keskimäärin 4,5 prosenttia. Hintamuutos johtuu yleisen kustannustason noususta sekä arvonlisäveron korotuksesta.”

(http://www.vrgroup.fi/fi/vakiolinkit/VR-konsernitiedottaa/news_20130102104233.html)

VR, oi VR.
Miksi nostat hintoja siitä etukäteen ilmoittamatta aina tammikuun ensimmäisenä?
Tai noh, ehkä et aina.
Olihan tämä vasta toinen vuosi peräkkäin kun käytän jatkuvasta palveluitasi ja huomaan asian nopeasti.
Ei saa yleistää.

VR, oi VR.
Miksi väität ettei yleistä hinnankorotusta ei ole tehty kun se on todistettavasti kuitenkin tehty?

VR, oi VR.
Miksi et tiedota asiasta etukäteen?
(Päivä korotuksen jälkeen ei ole etukäteen.)
Moni kanta-asiakkaistasi (minä mukaan lukien) haluaisi ostaa lippuja varastoon vanhalla hinnalla.
Muutoksesta kertominen olis, niinku asiakaspalvelua. Tuottais tyytyväisempiä asiakkaita. Niinku.

VR, oi VR.
Noin vuosi sitten tiedotitte yleisestä hinnankorotuksesta 27.12. Selititte vastineessanne reklamaatiooni että “tiedotus oli hukkunut tapaninpäivän myrskyn tiedotuksen alle“, pahoittelitte kovasti ja annoitte muistaakseni kymmenen euron junasetelin.
Kiitin ja käytin kymmenen euron setelin – yllättäen – junamatkaani.

Tänä jouluna ei myrskynnyt.
Junat olivat ajoissa.
Pyhät olivat toki pitkät.
Onko selitys tällä kertaa eri?

Ihanasti vastausta odotellen,
vakituinen matkailija.

Nokia (Yet Again) Chosen as “Best Web Page in Finland”

Last February I wrote about Nokia’s site chosen as “Best Web Page in Finland“.

I was skeptical then and I’m skeptical now as the same media, Digitoday, publishes almost the same piece of news. Except that the company who did the research is different.
(Article from other source in English)

At march it was Webmark who did the research, now it’s Blue White Partners.

Anyhoo.

Article (in Finnish) claims that “Blue White Partners went through over thousand Finnish corporate web sites evaluating their marketing efficiency“. Jolly good.

Marketing efficiency?
Over thousand corporate web sites?

Hmm.

Well, as I last time learned, our journalists can be quite busy sometimes. So off to BW Partners we go to find the press release!
And yes, there it is ( press release as .pdf)

Whee, this is nice.
According to press release,  methodology of the said research is based on “an average efficiency to attract visitors and turn them into customers, based on hundreds of thousands web sites evaluated“.

Errm, what?

And how the hell does one measure that?
And hundreds of thousands web sites evaluated?

Hmm.

Hey, there’s even more!
Again the Press Release states that “the average Blue White Score for Finnish Companies” (sic!) ” is  42, still below the international average of 50″. Now, Nokia, the front-seat student of all Finnish web sites, scores 99,8 and release states “which means that only 0,2 % of companies worldwide have as good or better web site as Nokia“.

Phee.

It seems that the rating goes from 0 to 100, 0 being the lowest score and 100 the highest. 100 obviously means “The Best”, there is no better and 0 that there is no worse site. (Please do correct me about the rating  if I’m wrong)

The top-100 list for Finnish companies can be viewed at BW Partners Web site. All sites, listed in order of ranking, followed by score and change since the last evaluation.
(Small side note: depending on source about 8 % of (Finnish) men are red-green colour blind. If someone wants to indicate something, let’s take change, with colours, do use some other colours than red and green. Or better, don’t use colours alone, use something else. Like a minus-sign in front of negative changes?)

Anyhow, forward.

What’s nice is that I can purchase the evaluation report for only 295 eur!

Pretty cheap, isn’t it?

Conclusion and remarks

As such the evaluation portrayed here is worthless (at least to me). I don’t know the methodology,  I don’t know the sample and so on.

Perhaps they’ll tell in the 295eur-report the following facts left missing in the press release and articles:

  1. Exact size of the sample (“over thousand” is not that exact, you know. 1001 is over thousand, isn’t it?)
  2. Methods of evaluation (“average efficiency to attract visitors ” and so forth is not that convincing)
  3. Sites Sampled (“over thousand Finnish corporate web sites” doesn’t tell that much.)
  4. Pages Sampled from every site or the algorithm for selecting the sample (did they evaluate only the front page or what? Did they start from the root and continue to leafs?)

Most likely the evaluation will be covered heavily by Finnish media, which is somehow sad.

Still waiting for the first proper “Best Web Site in Finland” evaluation.
I’m not holding my breath, though.

(Usual disclaimers apply; I do realize that evaluation methodology can be a trade secret, as well as other data. I also realize that business is business and everyone must make a living. )

[Edit 15.45, Arctic Startup has written about the first evaluation done by BW Partners. According to linked article the evaluation score is “is made by investigating content semantics, language, search engine rank and index, and presence in social media.”]

What’s Wrong With Finnish Theatre (Or My Short Trip to Tampereen teatterikesä)

I’ll continue my series of short reviews (rants?)  with Tampereen Teatterikesä‘s (Tampere Theatre Festival) web page (www.teatterikesa.fi), screenshot below.

etusivu-tampereen-teatterikesa-ry_1244195082896

Tampereen Teatterikesä, Screenshot from front page. Serious issues.

Front page has a picture of masquerade  lady with some human tissue (heart?) at her hands. Groovy!
But that’s not the point.

I got this uncomfortable feeling from just looking at the page, something is wrong. Must be. And yes, something indeed was wrong.

No, I don’t mean the lady with the heart.

I mean the technical side.

What’s wrong, then? Smallish copy-paste helps, like always:

</style><map name="frontpic">
	<area shape="rectangle" alt="" title="" coords="844,590,923,626" href="/suomi/" target="" />
	<area shape="rectangle" alt="" title="" coords="859,630,923,666" href="/in_english/" target="" />
</map>

<table align="center" class="front">
<tr>
	<td><img src="/res/etusivu_new.jpg" width="940" height="680" border="0" alt="" usemap="#frontpic" /></td>
</tr>

What is the problem, really?

Image maps used at 2009? WTF?
And what’s even worse, no alternative texts for links nor the image.

Why does it matter, then?

Well, Google sees nothing at the front page. I think that’s pretty big a deal. See the Google result.

The actual site is pretty ok, according to footer made by my old friend/foe, Optinet. (Screen grab below).

suomi-tampereen-teatterikesa-ry_1244195978382What amazes me, however, is the title for actual front page.  It says “Suomi” (Finland).

WTF?

Otherwise site is pretty ok, technical side is ok (as with Optinet-products most of the time is) but not great.

It’s the small details that irk me.

Small details make the site more invisible to Google and other Search Engines.
Small details make the site inaccessible.

Why not fix them? Just add title- and alt-attributes to front page image map (if it’s really, really needed. If not, why not get rid of the image map and just do texts the normal way, you know, html? Image replacement techniques anyone?)  and fix the title of the actual front page.

Not that hard.

Conclusion

  • Small details matter. If you are order a web site, make sure it’s visible to Google, too.
  • Small details matter. Make sure you know what you are ordering. If you don’t know, ask. Any decent web company will tell you. Ask about the pros and cons of this design. Ask about search engines, ask about mobile use.
  • Ask, ask and ask. If the webdesigner knows what he/she is doing, they’ll answer. Then you’ll know.

Nokia’s Site Chosen as “Best In Finland”

[Update: I was contacted by Webmark about the survey. Read Updates at end of post.]

According to various (finnish) sources (TietoviikkoDigitoday, Tietokone etc),  Nokia.fi was chosen as “best web site in Finland, 2008“.

I don’t even want to begin to conversate about Nokia.fi’s pros or cons – I’ll just focus on how this achievement was published in the news.

Well yeah.

I spotted the news at Digitoday. It states that Webmark, “a company that measures quality of web sites”,  found Nokia’s website the best in Finland (according to their evaluation/survey).
Then Digitoday, as well as all other publishers, continues jabbering about survey/evaluation done, which sites made it to Top-10 and so on.

Nice.

Except that:

  • I didn’t find a single link to survey/evaluation made
  • I didn’t find a single line mentioning tools used in the evaluation
  • I didn’t find a single line mentioning source for this bit of news
    (Where did it come from (Heaven?)? Was there a press conference (where? when? who was invited?)? Did the company post a press release?)

Jolly good.

Now, as I’m by nature mean, nasty and curious, I googled Webmark first. Found eventually their finnish site. And yes! There it was, the press release about “Best Site in Finland, 2007”.

Wait, what?

2007? It should be 2008 now,  shouldn’t it?

No press release about year 2008, just 2007.

Nice.

Well, back to Google.
Tried “webmark suomen paras verkkosivu“. No source, no press releases from original source, just different posts with (virtually) same content. (Other queries returned same results, too.)

Back to original post at Digitoday.  CEO’s of Webmark and Accenture are mentioned, as well as that “at the same time published research done by Accenture” – hey, I’ll just see Accenture.fi for origins!

Nothing at all about these things at  “press” -part of their pages.

Makes one wonder.

Hey guys at Webmark, Accenture, Digitoday and so on, if you read this, please post (all or at least one of the following):

  1. original press release
  2. origin of this news (if it was published at conference or something, where and when?)
  3. actual evaluation data
  4. methods used at evaluation

.. and then I’m willing to believe Nokia.fi is “the best web site in Finland, 2008”.

Update 25.3.2009

I was contacted by Webmark about this post and spent interesting times discussing the survey and methods. I also received some additional material, which made some points mentioned above quite clear.

  1. Original press release was published at the given date at Webmark’s site, only in the afternoon (read it here, pdf)
  2. Announcement was made at “Vuoden verkkosivut 2008” -conference, 19.3.2009. (See the program here.)
    Why didn’t I find the link
    nor the page? Only mention at Webmark’s front page about the announcement and conference (symposium?) was a flash -based banner, which got caught in my Adblock (it’s not a good idea to name banners “banner”, you know.). And when it comes to no origin at news about survey, thank our beloved and overworked reporters!
  3. Evaluation data is not available, but is based on methodology by Mr. Harri Oinas-Kukkonen from University of Oulu.
  4. See point 3 and press release.

(Bit more later…)

Firefox 3 and mouse gestures (general whining and Fangs!).

As I’m always eager to be accepted in a gang (any gang?), I did my part of the hype. Downloaded Firefox 3.

First impressions? Not that good as two thirds of my extensions stopped working.

Second impression? Pretty good. I’ll go with this version, any time.

Anyway, mouse gestures.

“In computing, a mouse gesture is a way of combining computer mouse movements and clicks which the software recognizes as a specific command.
— Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mouse_gestures”

I truly love my mouse gestures, have ever since I first bumped on them on some ancient version of Opera. Now, in Firefox, there’s as far as I know no native mouse gestures implemented. May be wrong, anyway.

I used to use the infamous “All-in-one mouse gestures” -plugin, but as paradise began (FF 3), it didn’t quite make the upgrade with the browser. Which is not nice.

A friend of mine (thanks F!) gave me a tip ’bout mousegestures.org (Mouse Gestures Redox). Now I’m a happy camper, again!

Entensions and versions in Firefox have been somehow problematic combination since beginning of the browser and sadly still are. For example, My favourite accessibility extension, Fangs, has been a major pain in the ass with the compatibility issues for many years. And yes, still is. No Fangs for Ilkka, again! (I highly recommend Fangs for web developers – makes making things a bit accessible easier. What is it then? I quote: “creates a textual representation of a web page similar to how the page would be read by a modern screen reader.“)

Hope in the future the problem persists no more. Please!

Pretty URLs (or Aamulehti redesign)

My almost weekly series of (failed or bad) finnish redesigns continues. This time my local newspaper, Aamulehti, decided to jump in the social train, big time.

Social software and Web 2.0, yeah, great things. But – should be applied carefully!

First things first, I use Firefox as my browser. I also have the marvellous adblock -plugin installed and basically all the finnish ad servers blocked.

Anyway, pretty URLs¨(Uniform Resource Locators). What does it actually mean? URL is “in normal” use the address for certain web page. (I’ll use URI, Uniform Resource Identifier, in this posting as almost the same as URL). For example URL for this page is:
http://ilkka.kaikuvuo.com/2008/06/pretty-urls-or…lehti-redesignpretty-urls-or-aamulehti-redesign/
, where http is the used protocol, kaikuvuo.com is the domain name and stuff after it represents the structure of the site (used to be folder structure, nowadays is something completely different).

Anyway, pretty URLs? Human readable URLs?

The above example is pretty clear, domain is ilkka.kaikuvuo.com, then comes the year, month and the title of this posting. Pretty pretty? (Also nice for search engines!)

Sidenote: do read the “Cool URIs don’t change!

Ok, back to Aamulehti.

Why do I think the redesign sucks?

  • URIs are not that pretty. For example the front page’s address (cool URI is http://www.aamulehti.fi) is:
    http://www.aamulehti.fi/cs/Satellite?pagename=KAL_newssite/GoToHomepage
  • Front page is full of ads (except that it isn’t, thanks to Adblock) or empty space (using Adblock)
  • Site is very, very heavy with all the AJAX goodness
  • Lue lisää (Read more) -links used heavily on every page – WTF? Basic thing: don’t use phrases such as “read more” in links. Is bad for screen readers, is bad for search engines is bad for (list continues)
  • News on the front page are cropped automatically, which results in awkward sentences and so on.
  • Redesign caused the pages to crash (hey yeah, lot of requests? Get used to it!) for hours.

Bah. I don’t seem to have the energy to rant anymore, I give up. (Could go on and on about the blogs and everything).

There are some good and nifty features too, at Aamulehti.fi. But as the Site is down, no report on them. Perhaps later.

More redesigns that suck:www. hel.fi (the city of Helsinki) reports as follows:

15.06.08 Hel.fi pages were transferred on a new technical platform

The City of Helsinki web pages www.hel.fi were transferred on a new technical platform during week 25. All the URL addresses of the pages changed.

Did I say something about cool URIs earlier?

Could someone please, please, give me a great redesign? A finnish one?

Please?

Pretty please?

(Small editorial comment: I’ll add some screen grabs if the site works for an hour or two in a row…)

How Paris Got Hacked (or Why I Sometimes Disagree on Internet Security Issues)

Some of you may remeber this old case about Paris Hilton and how she got hacked couple of years ago (link to article), main reason being the “secret question” (asked when one forgets one’s password) about favourite pet’s name. Well, in Paris’ case dog’s name (I don’t care what it is – google yourself;)) was publicly known.
After that?
I don’t have to draw a picture, do I?

Why this blabbering?

Dear old University of mine issued some new password policies. The new regulations require that users’ passwords must be at least 10 characters long and have to be changed every 9 months. Ok, jolly good.

9 months is not that often, I’ll give you that. I can live with it.

10 characters? Yes, ok. That’s fine, too. Fine with the usual “has to contain this and that and that”, too. Also fine with the complexity requirements (these I understand quite well!).

But, all put together I’m now in a situation where I can’t log in to my account, at all.
Why not?
Because I can’t freaking remember the password! I remeber in my opinion quite well. Type it, doesn’t work. Retype all the 12 chars, nothing. Type them in another form. Nothing.

Great. All the time this login form resets my user name, have to a) retype it every time or b) copy and paste it every time.

Anyway. Try some other forms I use. Nothing.

How do I get my password set again? (have absolutely do idea what the exact form I typed it was).

Take the bus to my university (when it’s open, 0,5 hours ride). Go to help desk, try to find the right person. Show my student id card with the awful picture on it. Type in the password. Retype it. Try to remember it a bit better this time. Take the bus back (0,5 hours ride).

Yep, that’s secure.

Time spent? About 2 hours. The state of “vitutus“? Maximum.

Anyway.

Security is perhaps the major issue as even more traditional services are being transferred to internet. Main issue is, I think,  identifying the user – with which mechanism can we be sure the person is really the person he/she claims to be?

Usernames and passwords, yes. Works quite well. Only problem is that people tend to forget things. Complex and long enough passwords are not that easy to remember. So what do we do? Write them down! Hey, that’s brilliant! Everything solved. What about the physical security? Someone coming to your desk, in real life? Oh well, in reality this is perhaps not that major a risk, but anyway…

What makes things more complicated is the fact that every website, desktop program or whatever wants you to log in. And the login is made with a pair of user name and password.

Now, for obvious reasons one shouldn’t use the same password and user name in every service. That multiplies the number of passwords to remember by the number of services – or by little less if one cheats. Anyway, one reason for not using the same password in every place was seen last year here in Finland. Almost 80000 password/user name -pairs were hacked (posting about the topic). Not a big deal – except for the fact that people use same passwords in various services.

Yeah, stricter password policies at my Uni can be traced to that case, too.

What was the point? Can’t remember it anymore as I try to remeber all my passwords.
In particular the password for my Uni.