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Thursday, May 04, 2017

EPC fail-of-the-day

This is a fun one.

I don't know how often this happens, but sometimes when you're working on a 471 and you leave it for a while, when you come back and click on it in your Tasks list, you get:
Error message

You can't get back to that 471.  Ever.  You have to start a new one.  It's been dubbed the "Vanishing 471" trick.

But that bug is no fun on its own.  It just creates panic ("What did I do?  Where did it go? Was it submitted?") and more work.  To make it fun, we need to add in another bug.

There is another EPC "feature" that I call the "Midnight Save & Share" trick.  Occasionally, at midnight EPC selects a few incomplete 471s (no one has ever figured out the selection criteria) and basically presses the “Save & Share” button.  It's just as if the form's owner had clicked "Save & Share": the owner can no longer access the form, and it appears on the Tasks list of every other user with permissions for that form.

(Side rant: when I "Save & Share" a form, why can't I look at that form any more?  Really, it's more like "Save & Give Away.")

That bug isn't fun, either.  It just creates panic ("What did I do?  Where did it go? Was it submitted?") and more work.  But for those of us unfortunate to be habituated to these failures, the combination of those two tricks can create the fun.

Last night, a previously vanished 471 was selected by EPC for the Midnight Save & Share.  So now that 471 is on the Tasks list of all the users with permissions (except, of course, the creator), but if anyone clicks on that task, they get:

And that task vanishes from their Tasks list.  But don't worry, the task reappears the next time they go back to the Tasks list.  So I guess from now until the end of EPC, that task will be sitting there.

It's like an online fidget: I can go to my Tasks list and click on the task for that Vanished-then-Midnight-Save&Shared 471 and get a pink error dialog box, watch the task vanish from my list, then refresh the page and see the task reappear.

It would just be another amusing EPC quirk, except that it also appears on the Tasks list of my clients.  Which means a year from now, some infrequent EPC user in the district is going to call me in a panic about how they have a "Create Form 471" task but when they click it they get an error message and are they going to lose funding and if you're the E-Rate expert why can't you fix this error and I think you should keep calling USAC until they fix it otherwise what are we paying you for.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:36 PM

    For me, the hilarious one - is that I can’t find an ‘external’ (online) link for the Form 470 in EPC. If you need to send it to someone for observation and that person does not have an account in EPC, you need to use the “VIEW AN FCC FORM 470” USAC online search tool. However, when you use this search- it only “generates data up to 30 days of posting date”. So, you need to go back to the “EPC Form” and now look for the posting date and choose the relevant range of dates in their online search calendar. It’s soooo annoying! (Unless I’m missing something).