The Mitchells in America - Andrew and Margaret

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Postcode rant

A couple of years ago Australia Post decided to change the postcode for my suburb, Voyager Point, from 2171 to 2172. (2171 was split into 2171 and 2172)

At the time I thought this was great news. The old postcode, 2171, was sorted and centered at Narrellen, about 40 minutes drive South West of here. As a result, whenever we entered our postcode on a website we got very strange results... sometimes we were told we were out of the delivery area for an internet site because we are "outside metropolitan Sydney". Sometimes we were told "we don't deliver that far away" by a company 2 minutes drive down the road that delivered Sydney-wide. Also, when entering our postcode to find "your nearest store" for just about anything we were given a store an hour's drive away! It seems many computer systems treat postcode like American zipcodes which cover a much smaller area.

However, the change of postcodes has been a disaster, and not Australia Post's problem. Australia Post publishes updated data monthly on their website in a nice, easy to use, consistent, database format. Does anyone ever download it for updates... NO! Now when we look up our "nearest store" we are informed that we entered an invalid postcode... and I should "check your postcode and try again". I had half a mind to set up a shell script that alternately looked up (on Aus Post website) the postcode for Voyager Point, and submitted it to the "nearest store" lookup... and repeat this every minute forever until they changed their tune! It would only be following their instructions after all!!! When I tried to renew my driver's license, by law I must make sure that my address is correct. They wouldn't accept my correct address due to the postcode "not existing". Technically they couldn't renew my license or the licenses for the other 1000 people affected by this change ... but at least a human let me use my old, incorrect postcode and renew my license. I even contacted one internet site about this only to be told (apologetically) that they couldn't make the change without a total rewrite of their software (for database integrity).

The worst was today. Now 2 years after the change. Someone in the US needed to send me a parcel via a very popular international courier service. It was rejected as "Voyager Point, 2172" does not exist! This took 6 hours and a few phone calls to sort out.

I just wish these software vendors didn't hardcode the postcodes in. How hard is it to automatically download the new data from AusPost... or at least after manual checking of detected changes? How hard is it for the software to not just blindly say "you are wrong, fix it" but instead offer the possibility that it is out of date.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Our last skiing trip in Oz for a while

We've just come back from our last skiing trip in AUS for a while. Unfortunately I missed the last couple of days of skiing due to haveing the flu! The snow was ok, nowhere near as good as last year. As always the group that we were down at the lodge with was great.

We had a really nice sunset one night just over the duplex at Smiggins.

I also decided this year to take the risk of bringing out the SLR camera on a (short) downhilling trip. Took a few reasonable shots with it... I could do with some more practics, though.

Of course there are plenty more photos on our recent photos website.

Welcome to our new blog

Hi, we're Margaret and Andrew Mitchell, and we are soon going to America for work. Currently we live in Sydney, Australia... and have a job offer in Silicon Valley, USA.

The purpose of this blog is to keep our friends and family up to date with what we are up to while we are away.