October 14, 2007

The IEEE Secret Handshake?

Posted in Usability tagged at 9:49 am by mj

This morning I decided to plop down $215 for an IEEE + Computer Society membership. Note I said I decided to, not I did, because the IEEE wouldn’t take my money.

I’ve been considering joining IEEE for a while. I’m happy with my ACM membership (the Digital Library is awesome), but occasionally there will be a spate of good articles available only through IEEE. Plus, I expect a different perspective from their publications than you get from ACM.

It started with an ominous warning:

It appears you are using Firefox on Linux UNKNOWN. This site supports numerous Internet browsers on multiple platforms, however, it is best viewed with Internet Explorer 6.0 on Windows.

While I was surprised the warning doesn’t reference Internet Explore 4.0 (think 1997), I continued on.

Next up was “Web Account” creation. Which requires usernames to be entered in ALL UPPERCASE. (Huh?) When you fail to enter a password of the correct length, or a username in all uppercase, it takes you to an ugly error screen.

Somehow, I managed to make it through the cumbersome registration process, only to be greeted with this screen:

Update: This was not the original error message. The original error message was much less user friendly. The above error message was generated when I tried to do a screen capture, but mistakenly hit my ‘back’ button first. I didn’t notice the difference until I attempted to send IEEE member services the same screen shot. Bah.

Nice error message, folks. It appears my account was created, but the membership could not be added to my cart. No problem.

I started over. Only then to forevermore add memberships to /dev/null:

That’s right. It claims to have added my membership to my cart, but the same page says my cart is empty.

Either I’m not cool enough, or they don’t want to just straight up tell me that I don’t qualify, or I need to find the secret handshake. But whatever, I’m not sure I want to join IEEE at this point. If I have this much trouble just signing up, what will my experience be when I want to search for articles or view their online periodicals?

For what it’s worth, I did also try Internet Experience 6 on Windows XP. Without first logging into my account (in case my account was wonky). On IE, all I get is a completely blank screen (no screen caps from Windows), even after I log in.

Granted, the ACM registration/renewal process sucks raw eggs, too. But at least they always accept my money.

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