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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A whole lot of crashing

The last day of the filing window is a day of error messages.

The Form 471 tool got sluggish for a little while this afternoon, but has been pretty solid.  But once the West Coast got into their offices, the sluggish Online Item 21 Attachment tool completely bogged down.  Not only was it taking 45 seconds to get to the next screen, the MCBC (Mean Clicks Between Crash) was about 3, and since it takes at least 9 clicks to create and submit an attachment, not much has been getting done.  It seems worse than usual.  Could it be a denial of service form the folks at the Item 21 Portal?  Just kidding.

Anyway, USAC has committed to a grace period for submitting Item 21 Attachments online.  There has always been a grace period, but I think this is the first year that the period has been confirmed beforehand.

My favorite error message of the day:  When you Create a Form 471, the first screen is a search for your BEN.  If you put anything but a number in the search box, you get: "The search value must be a positive whole number."  I feel like I'm back in 7th grade math.

Best experience of this filing window: There is some combination of clicks that actually puts you in Block 2 (or Block 3 if it's a library application).  Really, I did not imagine it, and I'm not the only one it's happened to.  I'm enough of a geek that it felt cool, like finding your way into a hidden crypt.  But the funniest part is that once you're in there, you can't get out without filling in at least one box.  I have a mental image of some database geek at USAC poking around and discovering Block 2 information associated a 2014 application and wondering how it got there.  I wish I could have typed in a message like "the cake is a lie," but all the boxes in Block 2 only want positive whole numbers.

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