Computer Says No!

Like many freelancers, my wife is often asked whether she’s available to do a particular piece of work. There’s only so much one person can do, but clients can be very insistent: can she please take on their urgent assignment and have it done by Thursday? Saying no isn’t her strong point, so we came up with the idea of publishing a web calendar of available days.

We knew what we wanted but there was nothing exactly like it available. Starting with Chris Bolson’s freeware and a design spanning two Post-It notes, I started learning PGP and CSS. As someone who’s lived with HTML for many years and other languages since childhood, it was surprisingly easy to pick up. I needed enough knowledge to refactor and rewrite so the app does what we needed it to do. It’s a bit like learning enough Greek for your holiday when you already speak two languages.

The New Calendar

In a couple of days, the new version was online, and the URL shared to key clients. It’s easy to use and there’s a box below the calendar to publish announcements, working hours and so on. Here’s what the calendar part looks like: –

Web Calendar App Image

A Step Forward

The previous person-to-person interaction now hit against the perceived authority of a machine. Like clients making a dental appointment who can see the available free slots. They now have that information at a glance. Like a customer with a sore tooth no longer trying to negotiate an immediate appointment if the dentist is already booked.

Sharing information helps clients choose an available time slot. The biggest transformation was eliminating the time overhead of unnecessary communication and negotiation. It even took away my wife’s niggling feeling that, despite her best efforts, she was letting people down. It’s no longer the case that she says no; rather, computer says no.

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