The Struggle To Get Off The Ground

Apart from the political war raging over universal healthcare in USA, there are real issues with throwing open a website to which tens of millions of users are compelled by law and economics to visit. Last week it was an embarrassing bottleneck…

According to Netcraft and PR, the government has decided to throw more and better servers at the problem:
“Q And do you have an estimate on how many people have attempted to access the website for the health care?
MR. CARNEY: Let me see what facts and figures I have. As of now, I still have — in the first 72 hours had over 8.6 million unique visitors. As you know, there were seven times more users on the marketplace website that first morning than have even been on the site at one time.
Q But you still don’t know how many people have signed up?
MR. CARNEY: I’m glad you asked that question because I want to be clear about it. When it comes to enrollment data — I want to clear this up — we will release data on regular monthly intervals, just like was done in Massachusetts and just like what was done and is done when it comes to Medicare Part D. What I can confirm right now is that people are signing up through federal exchanges. But we’re not going to be — this is an aggregation process and we’re not going to release data on an hourly or daily or weekly basis. We’ll follow models that have existed in previous programs, including a similar program in Massachusetts, including Medicare Part D, which is the most recent federal example of this kind of thing, and release enrollment data on regular monthly intervals.”

Turning loose a variable number of virtual servers out there in Akamai‘s cloud should help them scale.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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4 Responses to The Struggle To Get Off The Ground

  1. dougman wrote, “uncredited use of a copyrighted web script for a data function used by the site, a violation of the licensing agreement for the software.”

    That sounds like a BSDish licence. The whole thing was done like some of the huge failed projects of the past. If they had contracted out the network and hardware, they could have created a purely FLOSS project for all the rest. As far as I know the source code was not published until the &&&& hit the fan, far too late, poor project management one way or another. If they had used PostgreSQL instead of that other database, they could have had a lot of people interested in healthcare working on it instead of offering the contract to the lowest bidder. One big project is much more brittle than a bunch of smaller ones, perhaps with redundancy, working in parallel.

  2. dougman says:, the federal government’s Obamacare website, has been under heavy criticism from friend and foe alike during its first two weeks of open enrollment. Repeated errors and delays have prevented many users from even establishing an account, and outside web designers have roundly panned the structure and coding of the site as amateurish and sloppy. The latest indication of the haphazard way in which was developed is the uncredited use of a copyrighted web script for a data function used by the site, a violation of the licensing agreement for the software.

  3. dougman wrote, “Should the website give you trouble – and it will – has five tips for you to try to get insurance.”

    That’s really peculiar in this day and age. It’s almost as if they have an IE-problem. Do you think they coded for IE6 only? Do GNU/Linux users have these problems?

    Further digging reveals that they have published the source code rather late but there are serious problems: lowest bidder got the job… different folks got the back end and the front end… Perhaps its a miracle that anything works.

    The problems are much deeper than what the browser is doing. Puzzling. Maybe they should have used PostgreSQL instead of Oracle or the folks who wrote instead of folks opposed to ObamaCare working at all.

  4. dougman says:

    Should the website give you trouble – and it will – has five tips for you to try to get insurance.

    Here they are along with commentary:

    1. Restart your browser – Turn it on, Turn it on again. The first tip to resolve login issues is not to save yourself the trouble and try again at a later time, but to restart your entire internet browser. Did the site just sorta freeze up on you? Close and reopen the program, that should do it. Believe it or not, they actually say this “will resolve many log in issues,” and if it doesn’t? See Step 1. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    2. Check to make sure your browser is set to accept cookies – Michelle O.-approved cookies. Listen, the website works fine. If you’re still having problems, you likely just need to turn your cookies “on,” even though they’re probably already “on” due to the fact that pretty much all web browsers are set by default to accept cookies. So I guess this is pretty much just a fluff step taking up space and making it seem like we really give a crap.

    3. Clear your browser’s cache (history/memory) –Do you know what a “browser’s cache” is? If you do, “clear” it. Still not able to get it? You tried restarting, right? Gosh, what could the problem be? It certainly couldn’t be our website. Let’s try something else. Have you tried clearing your cache? Do that, but don’t ask me to explain what a “cache” is.

    4. Delete your browser’s cookies – Let’s try the cookies, again… Absolutely no problems here at But if you’re somehow still having problems, we mentioned cookies earlier, but we forgot to recommend deleting them, too. Because, you know, we figure, what the hell, it’s worth a shot.

    5. Check your email “spam” folder – Nope, still not the website’s fault. Go forth and scour the depths of your email. Look, we’re not sure what to tell you. You should’ve been able to log in by now. After all, it couldn’t possibly be a problem with our website. You probably overlooked an email or something. Yeah, that’s it. Go comb through your email nice and careful-like. And make sure to check that spam folder, stuff likes to get lost in there sometimes.

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