Saturday, 6 February 2010

The Winnipeg Free Press Archives are an Ass

Okay, gotta get something off my chest. I bitched about this a few months back but deleted the post when things got better but I have to bitch again. Perhaps someone has the same issue or could offer advice.

I use the Free Press archives, and a couple of other newspaper archive sites, a lot. The FreeP you have to pay $100 a year to access and, fair enough, I'll go with that.

From time to time I have log-in issues. I log in alright. I can see my account settings, make changes, upgrade my account etc. but when I click to search the archives I go to a "forgot your password?" page. I know I didn't because I AM logged in, after all. I am stuck in a loop.

Usually my remedy is to curse, shake my fist in the air and come back to it a couple of hours or days later and the site works again.

A few times, though, the outage lasts longer. I contact the customer service people and, of course, it must be my fault. Use a different browser, clear my cookies etc. Now I am advised to do the first two PLUS delete my temporary internet files all so that I can search the archives.

I am never sure whether this truly works because it takes a while for them to get back to me and a while for me to get back home. I try it and things usually work but it works whenever I leave it alone for a while.

It hasn't allowed me to log on for days now - with a brief reprieve on Thursday. Today I WAS able to log in once but I had to go out so logged out again and now it doesn't work again.

To my mind, and granted it's pea-sized when it comes to techy stuff, the problem could be on their end because: I belong to a number of sites and this seems to be a lot of rigamarole just to log into this one; I AM logged in to most of the site - just the search engine doesn't recognize me; it comes and goes regardless of what I do - it strikes me that if it my computer doesn't like that site it will always dislike it, not just in flashes here and there.

I assume the next request I will get from customer service is to dispose of my computer and pick up a new one or fly off to another continent whenever I want to log into the archives. I really would rather not do that but it is difficult to get beyond that "oh, sir it can''t be us, it must be you" wall

I am wondering if:

a) anyone can tell me whether it does sound like it's an issue on my end, as they always tell me it is, or whether I should really push that they gotta even consider the slightest possibility that something on their side might be wrong.

b) if anyone else has a subscription and runs into these problems ? This is the page that I keep getting booted back to http://archives.winnipegfreepress.com/RegistrationChoosePlan.aspx - you'll surely know it when you see it.

c) if someone can give me any alt advice on accessing the archives. I know that the library (at least last time I checked) no longer allows you access to the FreeP archives (which is a whole other issue I have - why would you drop the subscription to your own city's paper but still allow you to search Brandon's ?). Are there other places that offer it or ways that I can access it ?

Anyone that can provide advice, it would be much appreciated and I will give you 100 internets for your assistance !

P.S. There, see. It hasn't worked all evening. I cleared nothing, deleted nothing. Thought I would give it one last try and boom - it's working again. People of the world: it's not my fault, I tell you


Chris Gumprich said...

I've subscribed for about five months now, and have never had problems logging in or staying logged in. Occasionally, I get hit with "Service Unavailable" when trying to view a page, but that goes away with multiple refreshing.

When I log in, though, I never log out. I have my login info explicitly cookied, so that when I go back to the site it automatically recognizes me. Could it have something to do with that?

(Yes, I know "cookied" isn't a real verb.)

mrchristian said...

Thanks for that. I stay logged in as well. When I go back it dies recognize me as logged in but there's some glitch with me being able to get to the search engine part. It's weird.