Not the Alan Smith Interview

Written after the first run of six consecutive losses that (2000-2001) season and inspired by our (then) manager’s ability to provide non-stop soundbites it first appeared in the ‘One More Point’ fanzine.

Rather than go for a career in journalism which seems too much like hard work I went to work for ‘The Sun’. My first assignment was to start at the bottom and gain a World Exclusive interview with the Crystal Palace manager, Alan Smith. Since that would have cut into important drinking time I just cobbled a few phrases together from other interviews, re-arranged all the words into an entirely different order and got my World Exclusive. Watch for my forthcoming World Exclusive interviews with world leaders Nelson Mandela, Tony Blair, Anthea Turner, Ghandi and Winston Churchill.

Q: Hello, Alan. You were born in the late 1940’s?
A: Yes. I would’ve liked to have been born a few years later to avoid rationing but my parents obviously couldn’t control themselves. Still, after a start like that in life I think I’ve done quite well.

Q: Can we start with that infamous secretarial incident?
A: Nature has invested a lot of evolutionary time in the mating game. I was just moved by genetic drives imprinted deep upon every living tissue. I hardly think I can be blamed for that.

Q: You first became Palace manager when Steve Coppell resigned.
A: Yes. I was on the coaching staff then and we were doing a blinding job but the players didn’t follow what we wanted and the long ball tactics used by Coppell left a lot to be desired. When things started going wrong Emperor Noades said to me “Brutus, always stand by Steve and support him from this knife’s edge all the way up to the hilt”. Despite my continual protestations that Steve wasn’t responsible for absolutely everything wrong with the club (the ballboys were truly terrible) he was still pushed out.

Q: And that next season saw promotion?
A: That was because the players listened to what I said.

Q: Did it have something to do with still having good players who had been in the Premiership the previous season?
A: Yes. I’d suggested a lot of them to Steve. If he’d listened to me for all of them we wouldn’t have been relegated. It was his bad choices that saw us go down.

Q: That next season saw relegation but two cup semi-finals. Was that due to your inability to motivate the team week in, week out?
A: Not at all. It was obviously the player’s fault. Next question please.

Q: You publicly outed Chris Armstrong for smoking marijuana. Why?
A: I don’t agree with a professional athlete abusing their body like that. It is best to make an example of them so all the children can understand how bad it is to do this to their body. Fortunately others have realised this and I must give special mention to Neil Ruddock who only sticks to alcohol and keeps his body free from performance impairing drugs.

Q: But shouldn’t things like the Armstrong incident remain within the dressing room?
A: Yes, I have learned that now. That’s why I’ll never mention the three punch-ups, the dressing downs I’ve had to give Hayden and Clinton, why Andy punched Simon and why we call him ‘little’ Tommy.

Q: You have changed your tune then. Is this an admission you were wrong about Armstrong?
A: Of course not! It was a different time and what I did then was entirely correct and appropriate.

Q: You had rather a bad spell afterwards at Wycombe.
A: Actually, I had a great spell. The tactics were spot on and the coaching was excellent. I’ve always said there is a lot of value in the long ball game but the players refused to do what was asked of them and started to pass it around on the floor. Of all the stupid things. It was solely their fault what happened in the end.

Q: Surely it can’t have been entirely the fault of the players?
A: You’re right. The supporters weren’t good enough either and must shoulder the rest of the blame. Of course, if new supporters has been brought in like at Fulham then they would’ve done much better.

Q: A question still causing interest is what happened in Spain?
A: We took the players there to get away from all the unfair comments that were being made against them and to understand each other in an open, equal, non-judgemental environment. But the lazy, useless bastards just acted like the idiotic fools they are.

Q: What about Linighan?
A: He criticised the team. That’s disruptive to team spirit so we sacked him.

Q : Why did you appoint Houghton and Cockerill as coaches?
A: Ray has already had experience of a relegation campaign at Palace so I felt we could make great use of him this year. Considering our current position I think this shows once again my qualities for picking the right people for the job. As for Glenn, well, with everyone laughing at someone that old putting highlights in his hair no-one comments on mine anymore (which is hereditary so it’s not my fault).

Q: This season. It’s the end of October. What’s gone wrong.
A: The players. I’ve inherited a lot of them. I didn’t choose them but I have to try and get something useful out of them.

Q: But the starting team consists of at least six of your signings and the ink on the contracts of Ruddock, Black and Gray was barely dry before you came in.
A: The players are young and inexperienced.

Q: Kolinko, Fan, Staunton, Rubins and Forssell are all internationals. Ruddock, Austin and Rodger have all played in the Premiership and are no longer in the first flush of youth, Pollock has been around for years and this is Morrison’s third full year as a first team player. The most inexperienced is Tommy Black and he’s been our best player so far!
A: Yes, but their average age is a good decade below that of Middlesbrough and just look at how well they’re doing.

Q: Thank you for your time, Alan. Any last words.
A: It’s not my fault.
The author would like to point out that his belief system and writing has been shaped by society, his parents, friends and acquaintances. Therefore he cannot in anyway be held responsible for the above text as it is obviously the fault of everyone else.

Scummy in-app purchase practices

I write software for a living.  I also go to the pub.  There’s probably a strong correlation between those two things.  On a recent visit to my local one of the bar staff there spotted the MacBook I was carrying and asked if I ‘knew about computers’.  Anyone with any computer knowledge has suffered this from their family over the years.  I’ve trained mine by writing really detailed manuals so when I say “open the System Preferences” they no longer need to ask ‘what’s the little picture on it?’.  I switched them to Hushmail from Gmail which slashed their support calls.  Teach them a little bit and give them the confidence to be able to go out and find the answers themselves.  In an example of the cycle of life I’m doing for my parents exactly what they did for me as an infant when I was struggling with the ability to stand and place one foot in front of another without crashing to the ground.

It turns out that – we shall call her Phoebe – was playing an iOS game on Tuesday, got asked for her TouchID verification, and suddenly found AUD$160 charge on her credit card.  She asked me about this later that afternoon when I had stopped in.  She showed me the game.  I wasn’t familiar with it as I don’t play computer games (it’s enough that I work all day on them) but it seemed to involve adding clothes to a model and then some form of gamification with other people.  I’m far too old to be a Millennial so wouldn’t understand it anyway.

She went through the process of how it happened and I captured it on video (a whole 17 seconds long):

Note the complete lack of a dialog box asking if she wishes to complete the purchase of an item for AUD$160.  If you are scrolling though and iOS mistakenly treats a scroll flick as a tap and you get a request to verify your security you may well authorise using TouchID.  Especially if you are one of the hundreds of millions who don’t expect app developers to pull scummy tricks which seem very similar to those used by various advertisers including spammers.

Coincidentally the previous week I’d taken a lead out of (indie developer legend) (underscore) David Smith’s book and added a tip jar to my app (in the three subsequent weeks since I’ve earned about AUD$5 – so not a money-earning option to take unless your first name is Marco).  I’d actually needed to read the Apple Developer documentation on StoreKit and best practises for in-app purchase.  The app I was shown did not provide that.

So on Wednesday I wrote an email to the company (click on it to expand):

covet1It pointed out that they had ignored the highlighted part of the Apple requirements.  They hadn’t even provided a verification dialog box to ask the user if they wished to part with over $150 (the phrase “appallingly dangerous UI” may have been used).  There’s a lot of words to describe people who implement those practices: most of those are only four letters long (six with the ‘er’ suffix).

The reply I received on Thursday consisted of this (click on it to expand):

covet2

That’s corporate speak for ‘screw you, we already have your money’.  I am actually tempted to email again and ask her what her developers said.

So on Saturday (when Phoebe was again on shift) I wrote a response and sent it to Apple via this which is the best option to use in these cases.

It basically pointed out what had happened and linked to the relevant documents (screenshots, the above video, and PDFs of emails saved to Dropbox and public links added help immensely).  Be warned it has a character limit.

I dropped in to the pub on Sunday afternoon.  Phoebe had received a response from Apple.  A full refund.  That’s something pretty rare for a consumable item on an in-app purchase.  But I think Apple had recognised that the developer had performed a pretty scummy set of actions where they had taken advantage of the ignorance of the user to gain more income.   Phoebe did say she’d emailed her thanks to Apple and had received a somewhat surprised response to that – apparently people expressing gratitude for services rendered doesn’t happen too often.