April 26, 2004

Milosevic - the 5th Most Shrewd Dictator

I have ran accross the list of the list of the world's dictators ranked by the amount of money they embezzled from their countries. Slobodan Milosevic of my native Serbia was number 5. I was surprised that he was ranked that high, but then the amount he embezzled seemed too low. $1 billion divided by the population of 10 million gives about $100 per person ($400 per average family). I have a feeling that we gave much, much more! It is hard to imagine what Indonesians, Philippinos, Zairans and Nigerians went through.

The top five dictators are:

Suharto (Indonesia, 1967-98), $15 billion to $35 billion
Ferdinand Marcos (Philippines, 1972-86), $5 billion to $10 billion
Mobutu Sese Seko (Zaire, 1965-97), $5 billion
Sani Abacha (Nigeria, 1993-98), $2 billion to $5 billion
Slobodan Milosevic (Yugoslavia, 1989-2000), $1 billion

Posted by laza at 08:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Designing On-Line Forms: The Worst of the Web

Filling out on-line forms is always a pain. I usually have some complaints regarding the implementation. It is rare however that one web page can contain almost all the worst design choices: National Valley mortgage site is easily the worst, closely followed by Lending Tree. This is a letter I sent to National Valley:

I found your web site's Mortgage section to be the best on the Internet! (http://www.valleynationalbank.com/home_mortgage/) Congratulations on that!

However, I was gravely disappointed by your mortgage form:


The form is an abomination of disasterous web design. It is inconvenient, and it does not work. The only good thing I can tell about it, is that it does not look ugly.

Here are some of my numerous reasons for finding the Valley National Bank mortgage web site to the some of the worst in the industry:

- username and password must be exactly 8 characters long. This is a stupidity in its own because users cannot pick an easy to remember tokens, but must invent and write them down .
- Phone numbers, SS# are entered piecewise, 3 digits per box. This works great to defeat browser aids that help users pre-fill the information. It also prevents user from using copy-paste.

- user is required to go through many pages, although everything that is required can be entered in the final summary page.

- every page asks the user if he/she would love to receive a lot of SPAM and receive "offers". Let me answer you for all your customers: NO, WE DO NOT LOVE SPAM!!!

- This is the only on-line mortgage form that asked me to fill in driver's license information.

- The privacy policy is one of the most intrusive ones, with no customer privacy for anyone who is willing to pay for it. I am sure that you love selling our information to telemarketers in order to "provide additional convenience and better serve your financial needs; " ... and ... " to make [us] aware of Valley's special offers, products and services". Again, let me tell you on behalf of all of your customers: WE DO NOT LOVE GETTING JUNK MAIL AND TELEMARKETERS CALLING US DURING DINNER!!!

- finally, I hit "Submit" button after filling out all the information, and it did NOT work! There was a JavaScript error:
name: TypeError
message: Statement on line 196: Expression evaluated to null or undefined and is not convertible to Object: document.getElementById("asset_balance" + ctr)
(my browser is Opera 7.50 on Windows XP)

Best regards,

-Zoran Lazarevic

Posted by laza at 07:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack