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I caught a code, now I'm all plugged upFollow

#1 Oct 24 2013 at 1:16 PM Rating: Excellent
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Do we need another Obamacare thread?

Linky, linky.

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When he investigated the cause, he discovered that one part of the website had created so much “cookie” tracking data that it appeared to exceed the site’s capacity to accept his login information. That’s the mark of a fractured development team.


Quote:
Campbell, whose company has a contract worth a possible total of more than $200 million for its work on the system, noted than an end-to-end test conducted within two weeks of the launch caused the system to crash. She said it was up to CMS to decide on proceeding with the rollout.


Quote:
He and Campbell blamed a decision by CMS within two weeks of the launch to require users to fully register in order to browse for health insurance products, instead of being able to get information anonymously, as originally planned.

While the technical change to require registration was easy, the result was a much greater burden on the system that it failed to handle, Slavitt and Campbell said.


So, I admittedly know very little about software coding, as in I'm happy to parse a text file and extract information in a timely fashion. Still it seemed odd you'd have several different parts of the website contracted out to many different companies, like it's a pretty big potential problem. I mean, given the scope of what they're trying to do and everything I can see why one would do that, but that's an awful lot to stitch together in the end. I can't imagine keeping communication flowing well between the groups was easy.

Anyone who knows more about putting together a website (or just punching out random bits of computer code) like this care to share thoughts on the project, perhaps offer perspective?

I know we have computer people 'round these parts. Smiley: wink

Edited, Oct 24th 2013 12:22pm by someproteinguy
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#2 Oct 24 2013 at 1:57 PM Rating: Excellent
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I'm totally out of my depth to discuss the technical side. From what little I understand, the back end of it is a mess and the coordination between the federal portal and all the companies it needs to communicate with is a clusterfuck. I've heard that fixing the front end isn't that big of a deal but they're loathe to do it before getting the back end running correctly since all they're doing then is increasing the stress on the back end.

I completely agree with everyone else on the planet that the system should let you browse plans anonymously, simply by saying "I'm a 32 year old male in South Carolina with a 30 year old wife with hypothyroidism and a 3 year old daughter. We make $47,000 a year and have no insurance through our jobs". ****, leave off the medical caveat about his wife and just say "Male 32, female 30, daughter 3, location: SC, income $47k, gimme gimme gimme" and at least give generic "no pre-existing" style budget quotes.


Edited, Oct 24th 2013 3:21pm by Jophiel
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#3 Oct 24 2013 at 1:59 PM Rating: Decent
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No centralized management.

I expect it went like this.

RFPs go out to various government approved contractors. Bids come in and the bureaucratic selection process begins. Winners are selected based on price and prior performance which itself is based more on number of government contracts completed rather than the success of said contracts.

Each contractor begins development on their portion based on the specs provided in their RFP which is written by procurement professionals not web developers. Contractors are likely not aware of the other contractors' specs initially.

Communication patching begins as people realize nothing works together and their programmers that were asking what parameters to pass to who were actually quite right when they insisted they needed to talk to the competitor's dev staff directly. Since there is no centralized management of the project up to this point some programming is now unchangeable in the timelines required (having to register before seeing plans, for example.) The bandaid solutions begin.

Now you have a system of bandaid solutions on top of spaghetti code written in different styles by completely different groups that no single developer can follow without months/years of review.

I'd bet there's not a single group of people that knows how that whole system works. This is all based on personal experience and though I've dumbed it down quite severely this is pretty typical of badly managed IT projects instigated by executives. I manage IT projects as part of my day job, seen and fixed this many times.

edit: than is not that

Edited, Oct 24th 2013 4:02pm by Yodabunny
#4 Oct 25 2013 at 6:44 AM Rating: Good
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What happens is the team in charge of the project broke the work into chunks (deliverables, they call them) and contracted out each individual deliverable or even sub contracted the individual work packages.

They did the correct thing when they started running out of time, however. Brookes' Law is a fairly iron clad law in the IT world, and it says that adding additional resources (e.g. people) to a late software project will make it even more late. The only safe thing to do is double down and try to get 'er done, and shift your existing resources. The problem is that if the other resources assigned to other tasks work for another company, that isn't possible.
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#5 Oct 25 2013 at 12:23 PM Rating: Good
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till it seemed odd you'd have several different parts of the website contracted out to many different companies

It's not. Which is probably good if, for instance, someone pays you large sums of money to integrate the hot mess they bought from 14 different lowest bidders. Yay, capitalism. If you're in school kids, systems integration and data architecture are going to be high paying in demand fields for at least the next 30 years. Tech support/systems admin type jobs are going to be low skill low paying affairs. You're welcome.
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#6 Oct 25 2013 at 12:41 PM Rating: Good
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Smasharoo wrote:
till it seemed odd you'd have several different parts of the website contracted out to many different companies

It's not. Which is probably good if, for instance, someone pays you large sums of money to integrate the hot mess they bought from 14 different lowest bidders. Yay, capitalism. If you're in school kids, systems integration and data architecture are going to be high paying in demand fields for at least the next 30 years. Tech support/systems admin type jobs are going to be low skill low paying affairs. You're welcome.


I really wish I'd gotten in on this software analyst gig years earlier. I'm doing half the work, at twice the money, with 1/10th of the stress, as any other job I've ever worked. Only took getting a friggin master's degree to do it.
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Thayos wrote:
I can't understand anyone who skips the cutscenes of a Final Fantasy game. That's like going to Texas and not getting barbecue.

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#7 Oct 25 2013 at 2:16 PM Rating: Excellent
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Systems integration is fun, especially if you get to play with the truly ancient large scale data repositories that state governments tend to have laying around forever. It's one of those tasks where you get to build ungodly horrifically brutal code that converts back and forth between 13 different formats with 14 different escape characters and text formats required. over ancient and likely suspect copper lines to machines containing sensors built by actual dinosaurs. (Parasarouphalis, most likely. Possibly a Pterodactyl), and then outputting the whole mess to a calm and collected simple looking display that will instantly make any tech-clueless manager looking at it go, well, that looks too easy, i think we're paying too much, no raise for you! Until it breaks the first time and something catches on fire!
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#8 Oct 25 2013 at 2:16 PM Rating: Decent
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Smasharoo wrote:
till it seemed odd you'd have several different parts of the website contracted out to many different companies

It's not. Which is probably good if, for instance, someone pays you large sums of money to integrate the hot mess they bought from 14 different lowest bidders. Yay, capitalism. If you're in school kids, systems integration and data architecture are going to be high paying in demand fields for at least the next 30 years. Tech support/systems admin type jobs are going to be low skill low paying affairs. You're welcome.


This. It always pays more to clean up someone else's mess. It's easy enough to contract subsystems to the lowest bidder, but at some point, someone has to make those subsystems play nice together.

Edited, Oct 25th 2013 3:16pm by BrownDuck
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#9 Oct 25 2013 at 2:21 PM Rating: Good
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Pumpkin Lörd Kaolian wrote:
Systems integration is fun, especially if you get to play with the truly ancient large scale data repositories that state governments tend to have laying around forever. It's one of those tasks where you get to build ungodly horrifically brutal code that converts back and forth between 13 different formats with 14 different escape characters and text formats required. over ancient and likely suspect copper lines to machines containing sensors built by actual dinosaurs. (Parasarouphalis, most likely. Possibly a Pterodactyl), and then outputting the whole mess to a calm and collected simple looking display that will instantly make any tech-clueless manager looking at it go, well, that looks too easy, i think we're paying too much, no raise for you! Until it breaks the first time and something catches on fire!


Heck, one of our poor devs spent a month untangling one function from software that was originally built in 2006 but had extra bits duct taped onto it over the years. We're taking one component to the web, but that turned out to be a herculean amount of knot untangling to extract that one component from its little rat's nest inside the application.
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Thayos wrote:
I can't understand anyone who skips the cutscenes of a Final Fantasy game. That's like going to Texas and not getting barbecue.

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#10 Oct 25 2013 at 4:03 PM Rating: Decent
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Catwho wrote:
They did the correct thing when they started running out of time, however. Brookes' Law is a fairly iron clad law in the IT world, and it says that adding additional resources (e.g. people) to a late software project will make it even more late. The only safe thing to do is double down and try to get 'er done, and shift your existing resources. The problem is that if the other resources assigned to other tasks work for another company, that isn't possible.


So you're saying that 9 women can't make one baby in one month?
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#11 Oct 25 2013 at 9:57 PM Rating: Good
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gbaji wrote:
Catwho wrote:
They did the correct thing when they started running out of time, however. Brookes' Law is a fairly iron clad law in the IT world, and it says that adding additional resources (e.g. people) to a late software project will make it even more late. The only safe thing to do is double down and try to get 'er done, and shift your existing resources. The problem is that if the other resources assigned to other tasks work for another company, that isn't possible.


So you're saying that 9 women can't make one baby in one month?


Almost. "A baby takes nine months to form no matter how many women are assigned to the task." - Fred Brookes
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Thayos wrote:
I can't understand anyone who skips the cutscenes of a Final Fantasy game. That's like going to Texas and not getting barbecue.

FFXIV: Katarh Mest on Lamia - Member of The Swarm and leader of Grammarian Tea House chat LS
#12 Oct 26 2013 at 12:35 AM Rating: Excellent
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what if the baby has a TIME MACHINE! Mwahahahahahahahahaha!
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#13 Oct 26 2013 at 5:27 AM Rating: Good
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What if the women are evil Dr. Geneticists that clone baby killer rabbits?
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#14 Oct 26 2013 at 9:16 AM Rating: Excellent
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What if the requirement is not for a human baby?
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#15 Oct 26 2013 at 9:54 AM Rating: Good
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Pumpkin Lörd Kaolian wrote:
what if the baby has a TIME MACHINE! Mwahahahahahahahahaha!
Someone will steal it and use it for evil. Duh.
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#16 Oct 26 2013 at 5:36 PM Rating: Good
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Elinda wrote:
What if the women are evil Dr. Geneticists that clone baby killer rabbits?
Are they infant rabbits that kill people indiscriminately, or rabbits of undetermined age that kill just babies?
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#17 Oct 26 2013 at 7:53 PM Rating: Excellent
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Neither, it's a hybrid cross between a rabbit and a killer whale.
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