Not Smart Enough

We’re still getting post for a former householder who moved out ten years ago (plus daily post for previous owners, 1yr on). Surely they’ve noticed either the lack of response, or my “return to sender” messages aren’t getting through. The former owners had a redirect for a while as well, so the data’s in the system. It’s tiring and wasteful on all parts.

Tom Morris has a long list of things Google thinks he is interested in – except he’s not (he really doesn’t like country music!).

Dave Winer’s dad would be surprised if he got an iPad – as recommended by Apple for Father’s Day – because he passed away several years ago. “With these companies doing such a great job of Big Data, you’d think they could get a clue about this one.” 

HTTP Good Practise

Here’s one for the web perfectionists out there. The usual line with HTTP and web browsing is that requests are achieved through the GET verb, and data modifications are through POST.

All well and good, but how do you handle text links that trigger a data modification? For instance, a page might have a list of items in a table, with “Edit – Delete” as associated actions. Edit is simple, it might go to edit?id=…, but Delete is more tricky. Assuming that no interstital “Are you sure” page is necessary, how can you trigger a POST from that Delete link?

My current way of tackling this is to include a form at the base of the page, and use some Javascript to submit that form. For instance

<a href="javascript:deleteItem(123)">Delete</a>
<form action="" method="post" name="jsPost">
<input type="hidden" name="action" value="">
<input type="hidden" name="item" value="">
<script type="text/javascript">
function deleteItem(id) {

This works fine and while the HTTP behaviour is roughly correct (okay, so in a perfect world I’d use the DELETE verb….) the code does not work for people not using Javascript.

Any ideas for a better, but clean solution?

The Post

For the last four months or so we’ve been living in rented accommodation. One of the things I’ve rapidly learnt about rented places is that they’re magnets for unwanted letters.

Here’s why: before us, there were three (groups of) people living here at different times over the last few years. For various reasons we have no forwarding addresses or contact details for them, and for various other reasons most of them don’t seem to have ever updated their contact details with various companies.

The long and the short is, we get all their mail. Normally we’ll get a handful of letters every week. Some are clearly junk; some are white envelopes which look pretty personal and the rest are from companies like BT and organisations like SAGA.

Since we’re not the recipients we can’t play the Data Protection Act game and ask to have “our” details removed. Besides – I don’t fancy writing or calling to every single one of these companies asking them to stop. The same is true for simply writing and explaining.

The postie won’t stop delivering them because he’s obliged to post any addressed letters by law, and it’s probably not worth his time filtering them anyway.

So, after a bit of a look-up on the Internet I noticed a few people recommending writing “Return to Sender. Recipient no longer lives here” on the front. Dutifully I ran off a load of labels (already on my third sheet…) and started posting them back.

The other day I went to the Post Office for something unrelated, and asked if I could put “this handful of letters” in the post. The Post Office lady took them, saw the sticker and commented that “this probably won’t work. Royal Mail just usually put them straight in the incinerator”. Bleeding marvellous.

So the letters continue – another two today and undoubtedly more to come.