Instead of doing something that pays, I attended the TTC meeting today (the first in months – a previous meeting was cancelled after the budget crunch). I learned some interesting facts.

  • The internal budget allocation for the new Web site (per se) is $375,000, an order of magnitude that matches the estimate I had given several potential bidders (“Bid the true cost up to $300,000”). (Yes, I advised several. Some of that advice consisted of “You guys suck, so don’t waste everybody’s time putting in a bid.”)

  • However, that is almost the smallest item in the agenda of online improvements. The full list:

    • Building their own geographic information system (using GPS and suchlike): $1,500,000 and worth every penny
    • Next-train arrival information: $330,000
    • Next-bus arrival: $5,200,000 (!)
    • Internet trip planning: $2,300,000
    • Notification of disrupted service (to announce what – a wildcat strike?): $1,100,000 (!)
    • E-commerce (buy your Metropass onliné, then get it lost in the mail): $1,200,000
    • Wheel-Trans trip booking (much more important than they think it is): $550,000

    The total cost is $12,555,000. Unlike my esteemed colleague Steve Munro, I don’t think any of that is wasted money.

  • I am not clear why trip planning is sextuple the cost of the Web redesign. I offer the same warning all over again: The trip-planning application will be put together by outside-vendor assholes using tables for layout and JavaScript that only works in IE6.

    TTC’s documents keep insisting (inexplicably, in grey Arial type): “Use a proven/established product!” – but all the examples they show are awful and wouldn’t pass the first five checkpoints of WCAG. (One item from the TTC erroneously claims a new Web site will be “WCAG3”-compliant. There is no such site in existence and there still won’t be.)

    Trip planning is the tail that threatens to wag the dog. Clark’s Law states that the more expensive an online system is, the worse its output is. They’ll buy a two-million-dollar system, get smoke blown up their arses by the vendor, then, when the thing completely borks, they’ll deploy it anyway, and it’ll have to be presented as an iframe in the new standards-compliant Web site, thereby destroying its standards compliance.

    In essence, there will be several kinds of TTC Web site – the normal one, the trip planner for noncripples, and the Wheel-Trans trip planner.

    If I’m called to any meeting, here is advance notice of some of the questions I will pose to any and all trip-planner vendors:

    • How well does it work in Opera? You know the answer because you tested it, right?
    • I only use iCab. It understands HTML, CSS, and ECMAscript, but you’ve never heard of it. What can’t I do in your application using iCab?
    • Prove to me I can do everything I want in your application using Safari, a Braille display, no speakers or headphones, and no monitor.
    • Unplug the mouse and do a demo of a planned trip from here to my house.
  • This business of disruption notification will apparently use the tiny bottom line of the OneStop display screens that nobody likes. (It should take over the whole screen.) Oh, and the TTC’s simulation can’t even get the font right. (What incorrect font do you think they use?)

  • One of the illustrated examples of existing next-bus-arrival systems is Danish (the øs give it away). A mockup of a TTC “bus terminal” display appears to have been typed out using Arial, the spacebar, and the hyphen key.

  • Whenever Adam Giambrone claims wall tiles are “expensive,” remind him they have a $1.5 million budget set aside for ’08 just for “system cleanliness/appearance,” explicitly including tile replacement. (Is it more expensive to replace tiles than to replace “artificial stone”? Can you prove that?)

  • This was another meeting filled with phenomenally awful PowerPoints and printed slides. How many presentation sins do these people commit? All of them.

    I am possibly the only critic of Tufte, but by God is he ever needed here. Were it permissible to present to staff copies of The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint, I would. I am merely a good presenter, but my shit is gangbusters compared to theirs, and they’ve got a billion bucks behind them. Inexcusable – but not incomprehensible, given the primitive, user-hostile tools they use (two words: “Windows NT”) and their visual illiteracy left unremediated by training.

  • There were two items concerning signage in the correspondence file, following up, without stating as much, from the TTC Type & Tile Tour. That’s apart from the two items from me, of course. And I have now filed a complaint about John Martz’s getting a cease-and-desist letter for doing something an advertiser later paid to do.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2007.11.14 19:09. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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