Tuesday, July 18, 2006


I know that one day I'm going to be put in jail for not being able to read Swahili. It's really not my fault, I've just never had the time to learn it.

Perhaps you're not completely with me. Swahili is my term for the near incomprehensible "Terms and Conditions" you see everywhere on the web. Even if all you want to do is just buy a shiny new mouse pad on-line, there is almost guaranteed to be a huge box full of Swahili somewhere on or near the final purchase page, just waiting to trip you up.

My issues with Swahili are twofold:
  • It takes too bloody long to read all the stuff
  • Once it has been read, you are usually none the wiser

What the Swahili translates into is probably not all difficult to understand, which is undoubtedly the second-most frustrating thing about it. The most frustrating being of course that one day I'll end up in jail because of it. So why don't they just write the simple stuff instead of the Swahili. Are they deliberately trying to confuse us so that we blindly click through and so expose ourselves to jail terms? I'm sure there is a tally board somewhere in some high-rise office block with a couple of blokes standing around it: "Heh heh, another three inside today, Earl."

Some of the simple things it says includes:

  • What you are doing MAY be illegal.
  • If you use this software and it breaks something, tough luck.
  • If you use this software to break something, don't expect us to care or be in any way responsible.
  • This software is going to send all your private details to our servers. Sorry about that.
  • Don't expect this software to solve world hunger. It only solves simple calculations in one dimension.
  • We wrote this software/built this hardware. It is ours not yours. So please don't steal it.
  • We've got your credit card details now. If we lose them or let some Eastern European hacker obtain them, we apologise for this in advance.

There's probably more things, but I don't want to be writing Swahili myself.

No comments: