Mamota

Changing a delivery in 2017, with UPS

I recently ordered one of those hipster mattresses, the layered foam mattresses. My partner and I stayed in an AirBnB recently that had one, and we found the reduction in motion-transfer over our current springs to be well worth the cost, and it's a free trial anyway, so a few clicks later and I have the mattress ordered.

I'm working from home all next week except for Monday, so naturally the scheduled delivery time fell on the Monday. The parcel is being delivered by UPS, and I know if they can't make the delivery, they'll leave it at a collection point a few streets away. Normally this is no hassle, but for a 34kg mattress (75 lbs), I'd really rather not heft it home myself, so I decide to try and change the delivery.

I grab the tracking number and head to UPS, who show me this:

Looks good! I just sign up for UPS My Choice® and I'm away! I click 'Change Delivery', and I'm shown this modal:

I finally find the button I need to press (Enroll now) and click it...

Ok... So a bit of Googling later, I find the UPS My Choice® Sign up page myself, and get going.

Ugh.

Ugh! Why?

Oh please. It's worth pointing out that this is a reasonably 'new' Angular app, created in the last few years. Maybe it's backing onto an older system, but this sort of thing is pretty inexcusable, and has been for quite a while now. But then I try and generate a password with LastPass (I recorded this after my initial attempt, hence it shows a stored password).

Oh come on. So I generate a password from the dropdown and paste is disabled. PASTE IS DISABLED. I try deleting the ng-paste="preventDefault()" attribute, no luck. In the end I use the console to set the value - it's quicker than copying out a 26-character random password. I have a very unpleasant taste in my mouth at this point.

Anyway, I've managed to create an account, yay!

Next it takes my address, all the usual steps. Then I get to a rather confusing page.

Did I sign up for a UPS account but not My Choice®? Clicking Sign up takes me through the address entry form again - not prepopulated, but it errors out unhelpfully when I try and submit with the same address. I give up and go back to the tracking page, and click 'Change Delivery'.

Oh. I was careful when signing up to enter my information exactly as it was on the order confirmation that I'd got from HipsterMattress.io, but maybe I made a mistake. The navigation path "Tracking > UPS My Choice > My Settings" doesn't exist in any way at all, but in the end I find the Update Addresses section in settings. I'm guessing the one I want to edit is 'My Choice'?

I enter in some 'alternative names' - it seems to match only on an exact match for first name, so I'll put in anything that HipsterMattress.io might have put in that field.

God damn it. This kept happening. Clicking try again takes you back to the 'root' of the settings page, and you have to navigate back to where you were and reenter the information.

Finally! Let's try again...

I'm beginning to get a little bit annoyed at this stage. What on earth could be wrong with my information. The popup just doesn't give any hint as to exactly what might be wrong. Maybe this is a security precaution?

I notice that there's this bar at the top of the screen:

I wonder what this does? It also has the same bug where clicking it does nothing at all, so I leave that for now. I've verified my email address.

I try reaching out to UPS support and HipsterMattress.io support, but both are closed over the weekend, so no joy there. The delivery is scheduled for Monday so I think I might be out of options.

After a few more vain attempts to try and figure out a way forward, I update my first line of address to be all the lines of my address (maybe that's what's gone wrong?), and then, Eureka!

Just to be clear, I'm not mad that I have to verify my address - it's a sensible step - but I rather feel this dialogue could have shown up earlier, or at all.

Techincal problems aside, I wonder if anybody from UPS has ever tried to use their own system. It's not just badly designed, at so many stages it feels hostile to the user.

Luckily I've got one of those IKEA trolley things...

Solving Facebook

I recently found a way to eliminate Facebook's feed across all devices and apps while keeping my account otherwise fully functional.

Like many people, I find myself in a bit of a love/hate relationship with Facebook. On the one hand, it's an invaluable tool that facilitates many social interactions, most notably messaging these days, with a large portion of my friends using it as their primary platform. The other main draw is events: Facebook is still the defacto way to organise an event for almost everyone I know. Not being on Facebook entails extra bother when invited to, or planning an event.

On the other hand, Facebook 'knows' a scary amount about me, and harvests my data in myriad ways, effectively selling that data on to any 3rd parties so that they can advertise to me. Also, the facebook feed is an algorithmic echo-chamber, populated by algorithms designed with the explicit purpose of making me keep scrolling, liking, and clicking ads. It works, and I've wasted many hours scrolling the facebook feed.

I've been sorely tempted to delete my account many times, but I've never actually been able to pull the trigger, and it's questionable if doing so would limit what Facebook knows about me anyway - it's known that shadow profiles are maintained for people who they know exist, but aren't on the network. Also Facebook owns other things which I use regularly, most notably WhatsApp - which is simply unavoidable - so I'm not sure if deleting my profile would actually meant I'd 'left Facebook'.

The issues around privacy can be somewhat mitigated. I am extremely conservative with the information I share with Facebook, and have my privacy settings on the highest possible setting. I use a different spelling of my name, and have privacy tools enabled on all browsers I use to access Facebook - limiting the extent to which they can follow me around other sites. The latter issue, of the feed algorithm, is a tougher problem to solve. The feed is a page that's designed to be addictive, on which you are an experimental guinea pig, in studies which in the past at least have had no ethical oversight.

You may have tried browser extensions such as StayFocusd that you can set up to limit access time to certain pages, but personally I didn't find these effective. They're too easy to disable, and don't work on other devices - so you still end up on the feed, so you don't end up breaking the habit.

My solution is this: Facebook offers an option to 'unfollow' anyone from your main feed. One day, I decided the only way to kick the habit was to unfollow everyone. This is what my entire feed looks like now:

It only took about ten minutes of clicking the first time through (I regularly prune my friend list anyway), and a few follow-ups (for some reason, Facebook's algorithm will sometimes show you nothing, even if there are posts from friends you could see, so some new posts from friends you haven't unfollowed yet show up later).

I can still use Facebook, but it operates essentially much as it did in 2010 (before the 'wall') - I can go to other friend's profiles and see what they're up to, I can still communicate with everyone, I still receive event notifications, but it's now up to me what I want to see - not Facebook. I also don't see ads - Facebook does have the grace not to show you ads when your feed is empty (I hide the sidebar ads, tickers etc. with uBlock Origin). If I do decide that this was a bad idea, it's easily reversible.

I still find myself going to Facebook on impulse occasionally, seeing the empty page and remembering what I did, but without the dopamine hit the impulse to check is lessening.

Hello

After some inspiration, I've decided that I should probably try and write some things down here every now and again. Watch this space.