Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wow - back to the past with the AMCAS medical school application letter writing system

Well, this is enlightening in many ways.  Today I went to upload a letter of recommendation for someone in my lab for medical school.  I was instructed to go to the AMCAS web site and register and then submit the letter.   AMCAS is the "American Medical College Application Service".  I have never used it before.

So I went to the site to register. And I got an error message

Unsupported Browser
Please click here to view a list of browsers currently supported by AMCAS.
Need help? Contact us at AMCAS@aamc.org.
Well, I was using Google Chrome (on my Macbook Air), so I switched to Safari.   And I got an error message.
Unsupported BrowserPlease click here to view a list of browsers currently supported by AMCAS.Need help? Contact us at AMCAS@aamc.org.
Rather than look up what browsers they accepted I, of course, switched to Firefox.  And I got an error message
Unsupported BrowserPlease click here to view a list of browsers currently supported by AMCAS.Need help? Contact us at AMCAS@aamc.org.
This was I guess not that surprising since I was using a VERY old version of Firefox on my Mac.  So I upgraded the Firefox and I got an error message.
Unsupported BrowserPlease click here to view a list of browsers currently supported by AMCAS.Need help? Contact us at AMCAS@aamc.org.
OK So now I was officially defeated and I went to the website with the list of supported browsers.

Am I using the correct browser version?
For PC users, AMCAS supports the following browser versions:
  • Internet Explorer 9.0*, 8.0, 7.0, 6.0, and 5.5
  • Netscape 7
  • Firefox 5.0*, 3.6, 3.5, 3.0, 2.0, 1.5, and 1.0.2
*Applies to the AMCAS Application only. Please use another supported browser version to access the AMCAS Letter Writer Application, the Fee Assistance Program Application, and the Advisor Information System.
For Mac users, AMCAS supports the following browser versions:
  • Firefox 3.6, 3.5, 3.0, 2.0, 1.5, and 1.0.2
  • Netscape 7
  • Internet Explorer 5.1.7 and 5.2
To access Internet Explorer browser versions 5.1.7 and 5.2, please visit: oldapps.com External Link. To access Mozilla Firefox browser versions 1.0.2, 1.5, 2.0, and 3.0, please visitoldapps.com External Link.
When a new browser becomes available, AMCAS has to do a large series of tests to ensure the integrity, security and user experience of our applications and this can take some time. We will update this site as new browser versions become available.
To access Internet Explorer versions 7.0 and 6.0, please visit: www.microsoft.com. External Link

I should have known.  It was not that I was out of date.  It was AMCAS.  And how out of date.  Safari is OK but not Chrome?  Firefox 3?  IE 5?  Holy cow.  So first I accidentally clicked on the "Download IE" link from the Oldapps.Com site.  And stopped it part way through and then decided to download Firefox 3.   I am sure I could have used some alternative approach like a virtual machine somewhere or hack firefox in some way or use a spoofing system.  But I did not want to think at this moment.  Or hack.  So I downloaded Firefox 3.  And it worked.  So I registered and submitted the letter (after going through way to many windows).  And I thought I was done.  But then I checked my email.  And that is when the funniest part of this story happened.

I first got an email confirming my registration.  And then I got another
Thank you we have received your email request and are beginning to address the issue.
Your request number is RQST00000363290. Please use this in SUBJECT line in all
communications with us regarding this problem.
Thank you
Details: I will be out of the office for a few days at least starting 8/16. I
will respond as soon as possible.
You see, I have my autoresponder on because I am not working due to a family illness.  And the autoresponder sent a response.  And the AMCAS system thought I was registering a problem by email. Cutting edge technology.  Any wonder medical school curricula are a bit behind the times too?  Waiting to see if I created an endless loop and the whole internet goes down ...

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