Thursday, 4 December 2014

A Protracted Perusal of the Potteries [2]

On-line Obfuscation?
Back in July, when First first launched the new network it did so with a blaze of publicity, loads of publicity and a super-duper new twiddly web site. This was all jolly good; and plentiful leaflets were available locally. The adventitious alterations at the very end of last moth were announced, at length, in a long press release; also published on-line.

fbb wonders whether this was thought out as carefully as it ought to have been.  Aqua becomes Sky ...
... but Sky becomes Lime! Uh?
So has Aqua become Limes in a sort of technicolor double whammy?

The new timetables were readily available on the standard nationwide First web site ...
... as was the new Network map (too large to blog in its entirety).
But for the most helpful detail, it would be necessary to peruse an updated version of the "Potteries" twiddly site. In its original version, this brought together fares, timetables and individual detailed route maps. Very helpful, therefore, to communicate the intricacies of this reorganisation.

So fbb had an electronic look around on Sunday 30th November; the first day of the new new services. Initial impressions were not good; the link from the main site ...
... still advertised the old new network. It never ceases to amaze fbb as to how bad the bus giants are at managing their on-line data. Surely First Bus has adequate web wiggling staff who know what is going on? Or is it the usual story; namely that everyone in in charge and no-one is in charge?

Arriving at the "Potteries" site ...
... the home page had not been updated.
The map is wrong, the route numbers are wrong and the colour branding is wrong. So far, so good; NOT!

Upon closer investigation, it appears that NONE of the individual route maps had been updated.
Meir Hay is now served by route 2; also, now, the number for onward journeys via Fenton, still shown as 1 on the full size version of the above map.

Many of the timetables (smaller versions of First's standard PDF efforts) had been updated with "from 30th November" versions. 17 and 23, confusingly, had old and new together.
Times for the 3 and X3 had evaporated into the ether.

None of the new route numbers was indexed from the home page. That's because none of the new routes were included! That means 26, 29, 98 and 99 just weren't there; anywhere. It looks very much as if the editors of this site had managed the easier changes, but had failed to allow enough time to handle the trickier ones. The prudent procedure would have been to create a complete "shadow" site, fully updated and linked to the old; then drop the whole revised caboodle into place overnight on Saturday 29th November. It is not that difficult.

This blog was composed on Monday 1st December and things had "improved" somewhat by mid morning. Most new timetables and route colours were in place but we still had two 17s, two 23s and an out-of-date map for 17.
The home page (simplified) map was still wrong.

The problem of out-of-date line-of-route maps was solved; by removing them completely. So maybe (just maybe) further improvements will have happened by the time this blog is published. Don't hold your breath. fbb does understand, however, that First Potteries had problems with its usual web site gnomes, their availability and timescales. This, of course, begs the question, "why have highly complex twiddly web sites if updating is challenging on a tight timescale." Motto : keep it simple stoopid and get young Gavin, that keen-as-mustard lad in the traffic office, to do it.

Marks out of 20 : two at best?

 STOP PRESS  The "Potteries" web site (here)  had improved substantially by yesterday late afternoon (Wednesday 3rd November). Most new line of route maps (with the exception of 3/4) had appeared and all looked correct; so right at last. It is worth repeating, however, that such information should have been in place at least one week before the change, not several days after.

But we still need to try to understand what changes have been made and why.
Christmas wasn't particularly important in the Bible. Far more significant was Jesus' desth on the cross and resurrection. Mark's gospel doesn't mention the Nativity; John's Gospel doesn't mention it; the very early Christian church largely ignored it. In the late 300s a celebration of the birth of Yeshua barYusuf (Jesus) was established, faded away and then re-appeared in the early 400s, promoted by the enigmatic St John Chrysostom ...
... very scary man!

What Jesus came to do was much more important than his 0th birthday. Nevertheless, Matthew was anxious to fill in the "back story", linking the birth of Jesus to those weird old testament predictions; whereas Luke concentrated on the magnificence of the revelation of the nativity to the people of the day. For both of these writers, Christmas was critical to the rest of their good news ("god spel" in the Anglo-Saxon language i.e. "gospel").
 Next Potteries blog : Friday 5th December 


  1. It's a Glasshouses and Throwing stones moment, fbb.

    We realise that you do mean 3rd DECEMBER in your Stop Press.

  2. I keep on saying : senior moments come much more often as you near the end of your 70th year! One month looks much the same as any other in retirement. Anyway, you never know what our Government will change these days. That nice Mr Baldwin can be quite clever, you know.