September 19, 2005

Times Select is broken

login.jpg

Welcome to the first day of Times Select! As a home-delivery subscriber to the New York Times, I now have access to the full archive of New York Times stories. In theory.

In practice, the New York Times doesn't seem to be any better at getting their subscription system up and running than the New York Post was. I was pretty sure I knew my password, but the system told me it was wrong, so I went through the process of changing it, logged in with no problem – and then found I still wasn't logged in to Times Select! And when I put my brand-new password into the system, it still didn't recognise it.

Why is it these things never work when they're first released to the public? Does no one test them first?

UPDATE: Isn't it nice to get Gawkered? I just spoke to a lovely chap called Eliot Pierce who I think is the product manager for Times Select. Apparently when it asks for your home delivery ID, that's not the same as your home delivery account number. It's all very confusing. And in any case there's now so many people trying to log on that all I can get is a Page Load Error. But Eliot did assure me that "thousands" of people had successfully registered. So have faith! It's not completely impossible to get through!

UPDATE 2: Still broken.

UPDATE 3: Fixed, at least for me, with the help of another phone call. But definitely not clean or transparent.

Posted by Felix at 03:28 AM GMT
Comments
#1

I've gave up on home delivery a long time ago (too much waste). Spent about a year doing the PDF version (I don't know that it is still available -- I still like this option). I had no trouble retreiving Frank Rich, using the same login I've had for about six years. I didn't even have to use it (cookied). There was some wierdness earlier today trying to get to the Bill T. Jones article -- I haven't been asked to confirm my user info for a long time, but it was the first visit since I upgraded. No hitches since.

Posted by: 99 on September 19, 2005 06:33 AM
#2

Does no one test them first?

It's not that they didn't test, it's that they didn't test the right things or test the right way. For a large property, it almost always makes sense to softlaunch with a subset of your user base and make it clear to them that there will be glitches.

The classic example of how not to do a web roll-out was H & R Block Online for tax year 1999. Total catastrophe.

Posted by: Sterling on September 19, 2005 07:26 AM
#3

I had the same problem as well, so I gave up and just created a brand new user ID.

Posted by: Jen on September 19, 2005 03:48 PM
#4

I would hazard the problem has to do with them never bothering to integrate the home deliver DB with the one that manages the registration data for online-only users. For me, the home page was a little slow, but I've had no problems, last night or this morning, logging in or getting access to the articles. Haven't searched for any old items yet.

Posted by: 99 on September 19, 2005 04:18 PM
#5

Well, that's entirely the point, isn't it, 99. It's Times Select which is broken, not the (free) nytimes.com. Lemme know if and when you manage to use it.

Posted by: Felix on September 19, 2005 04:37 PM
#6

Um, it's not broke for, and I am Select subscriber. I purchased Times Select on Sunday (it took about two seconds), and logged in repeatedly over the past day (using the same user ID and password I've always used). Select articles started coming online last evening, and I only had one instance where my password was re-requested. I believe it was only after the Select articles went live, and then it updated the cookie and I haven't had any problems since (two different machines). What I meant above what it would seem that anyone who purchased Select as an add-on to their online/free account (I had previously purchased online crossword subs) had no problem, but integrating the data about home delivery people created the hitch.

Posted by: 99 on September 19, 2005 05:01 PM
#7

Here's a sample of the archive search capability. The results page tells you how many articles you have left for the month, usefully placed directly above the button to retreive the article.

The exceprted text is longer than might be fair us, but given the frustrating experiences for the people who already paid good money for this service, I trust the Times won't mind this. Besides, how much can a Muschamp article be worth these days?

=====================================

Make the Modern Modern? How Very Rash!

By HERBERT MUSCHAMP (NYT) 1873 words
Published: June 15, 1997

MODERN ART IS BETTER than ever! At least, it's just as scary. This is the awful truth disclosed by Rem Koolhaas's proposal for the expansion of the Museum of Modern Art's midtown campus. Youthful, even bratty, shimmering with bright new ways to frighten the horses, Koolhaas's design would literally burst the old Modern apart at the seams.

The design could destroy the place, and possibly save it. Koolhaas's proposal can be glimpsed, but barely, in an exhibition now in the museum's top-floor galleries of architecture and design. ''Toward the New Museum of Modern Art: Sketchbooks by 10 Architects'' presents the results of the first round in the competition to design the expansion. Koolhaas, at one time regarded as a leading contender for the commission, did not place among the three finalists.

The three proposals, all as tasteful as table water biscuits, are by Pierre Herzog and Jacques de Meuron of Switzerland, Yoshio Taniguchi of Japan and Bernard Tschumi of New York. A winner will be chosen by the end of the year. As the show's title suggests, these are not fully worked-out designs but concepts, some quite rough in form.

Koolhaas presented his proposal in the form of a nearly 400-page hard-bound book. Like ''S, M, L, XL,'' the massive tome Koolhaas brought out in 1995, this volume is a stylish production that reproduces the texture of an architect's thought. Sketches, hard-line drawings, photomontages, images of models, renderings, philosophical musings, jokes visual and verbal, are organized with a cinematic sense of pace.

At the museum, unfortunately, Koolhaas's book is displayed behind glass; visitors can't peruse its contents. As much a philosophical critique of the museum as a plan for its physical enlargement, the book deserves wider circulation. In years to come, many will look back on it as the Modern that could have been.

Posted by: 99 on September 19, 2005 05:07 PM
#8

I'm sure your theory in #6 is right. If you pay them cash money for Times Select, you're golden. If you pay them for delivery, however, and therefore expect Times Select for "free", you're in trouble.

Posted by: Felix on September 19, 2005 05:09 PM
#9

I am a home delivery customer, so it was the highlight of my life to be offered free access to Times Select. But, in attempting to register, I experienced the same problem as your correspondent, entering my email address and password and getting denied.. Now, I am of reasonable intelligence and I tried and tried again. Finally, I called the NYTimes customer service department, who informed me that my username/password for nytimes.com was different than my customer number/password for home delivery. That, of course, would be too easy.
So, she walked me through the process of creating a password for their home delivery site, after telling me it could not be the same as my nytimes.com password. Now, I am a proud subscriber to Times Select, but the content does not yet appeal to me. Go figure.

Posted by: markh on September 19, 2005 06:22 PM
#10

My experience was essentially the same. Only I tried for three days before even the customer service reps on the phone finally gave up. So, what happened, to make a very long story short, is that my wife's e-mail address will be able to access Times Select. Mine won't, despite the fact that the bills are paid by my account (not the same e-mail or name as my wife) and the home delivery comes in my name. I also went through the home delivery BS. It turns out that my home delivery account number is not on the label on the little blue bag as it says on the Times website. The mumber that's on there has no basis in reality, other than maybe meaning something to the poor underpaid woman who has to throw it up on my stoop every morning. If my world revolved around this stupid thing working properly, then I'd be mightily pissed. As it is, I can only shake my head and wonder how the "Paper Of Record" can screw up something like this.

Posted by: Shawn Rosvold on September 20, 2005 01:09 AM
#11

...the poor underpaid woman who has to throw it up on my stoop every morning...

Are you suggesting the Times would take part in an injustice of some sort? How do you know how much she's paid?

Posted by: Sterling on September 20, 2005 04:12 AM
#12

SOMEONE SAID RECENTLY THAT THE WHOLE CONCEPT OF THE COMPUTER AND THE PUBLIC'S "LOGGING IN" IS A TREMENDOUS WASTE OF TIME." AND I'M STARTING TO THINK THEY'RE RIGHT.
THE ONLY THING COMPARABLE TO THE TIMES' BLUNDERING TIMES SELECT, ET. AL., ARE THE WORDS WRITTEN BY TOM FRIEDMAN. WITH ALL HIS FICTIONAL LETTERS AND FICTIONAL REPLIES ALWAYS DONE TO MAKE HIS WRITING ENTERTAINING FALLS FLAT ALL THE TIME.

Posted by: CAPPYJAK on September 30, 2005 08:46 PM
#13

SOMEONE SAID RECENTLY THAT THE WHOLE CONCEPT OF THE COMPUTER AND THE PUBLIC'S "LOGGING IN" IS A TREMENDOUS WASTE OF TIME." AND I'M STARTING TO THINK THEY'RE RIGHT.
THE ONLY THING COMPARABLE TO THE TIMES' BLUNDERING TIMES SELECT, ET. AL., ARE THE WORDS WRITTEN BY TOM FRIEDMAN. WITH ALL HIS FICTIONAL LETTERS AND FICTIONAL REPLIES ALWAYS DONE TO MAKE HIS WRITING ENTERTAINING FALLS FLAT ALL THE TIME.

Posted by: CAPPYJAK on September 30, 2005 08:46 PM