21 July 2009

Another OCIO triumph

How do you deal with a government computer system that is hopelessly out of date it wants you to “update” your Internet browser to a version that is actually three version older than the one you are using?

You don’t really.

You just shake your head and laugh.

the past This picture is the screen that appears when you try and access some provincial government websites.  In this case, it’s the lobbyist registry set up after 2004.

Note the dates:

“Copyright 2000”

“Last updated January 12, 2003”… that is the year before the lobbyist registry bill passed the House of Assembly and long before the bill was even thought of.

The version of Firefox that screen appeared on is 3.0.12.

The government computer won’t let that higher version to access the registry because supposedly it doesn’t meet the minimum “security and compatibility requirements.”

The truth is the Firefox version currently in use by your humble e-scribbler exceeds the security requirements but in order to use it, the version it will accept is two full iterations old.

The alternatives are no better. 

There are still lots of people out there using Internet Explorer 6, but more and more of us users have upgraded to version 8.

Netscape Navigator was last updated in 2007.  The only thing you can get these days is an archive for it. That last iteration was version 9 which, as you can see, is two full iterations beyond the current government-supported version.

What about Chrome?

You get the same silly blocking screen recommending you use antiquated software.

The Office of the Chief Information Officer is the giant bureaucracy created by the current administration to manage all provincial government computing services.  The thing has been a pretty spectacular  - and expensive - failure, at least when it comes to ensuring the public face of government is functioning at something reasonably approaching modernity. 

This mess at the lobbyist registry website is a case in point. Incidentally, the companies registry is no better.  The only thing it will accept is IE.

So what’s a body to do? 

Try Internet Explorer.  For some inexplicable reason, the OCIO system still supports IE no matter version you are using.

One suspects, therefore, that security isn’t really the issue.  Rather the issue is likely that giant , expensive unwieldy bureaucracy cannot deliver what it should be delivering to government and especially to the public.

Running into this little annoyance time and again makes you wonder, though, if the current hardware standard throughout government is a 286 hooked to a dot matrix printer.


One last thing.

That contact link at the top of the page people are supposed to use if you download the old browsers and still can’t get through?  it takes you to a list of telephone numbers that are only available during government working hours.

There’s no e-mail contact address at all, anywhere.

Welcome to the 21st century, courtesy of the provincial government.