Three errors

I offer three error messages today, all from WIU’s current effort to increase network security. Like a good writing workshopper, compliments first. When I had problems connecting to the secure network yesterday (I suspect it’s overloaded, as it’s time to make the conversion to secure wireless), I tried the old, unencrypted one. I was rerouted to this page:

Secure wireless redirect

Secure wireless redirect

Good; that tells me what to do. Not as good: when I followed the directions, downloading a Java applet, checking the publisher, etc., then entering my username and password, a second error was raised (link through for text):

Timeout or wrong password?

Timeout or wrong password?

I’ve been using the secure wireless (and recommending it to students) for about a year. Perhaps that’s why, even though I got this “failure” message, I connected just fine. In any case, the error message is problematic–is the problem a wrong password or a network timeout? Software shouldn’t ask users to distinguish these very different problems–especially when, by policy, we’re locked out after five failed logins. Better to say what’s wrong and allow us to correct the typo or report the network issue.

Finally, here’s some wording which could be a little better:

Authentication server error

Authentication server error

“The credentials you provided cannot be determined to be authentic.” Hrm. This is from the new authentication server–again, a welcome change from the days of expired and/or self-signed certificates. We should drop the Official Style here: “Wrong username or password. Please try again” seems a reasonable substitution.

Thanks to the WIU technology people for the security push.

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