It’s not the Traffic that crashed the Obamacare Website but Bad Website Design

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 6th, 2013

Week in Review

The Obamacare website got off to a less than illustrious start.  That is, it failed to work.  The Obama administration said the website failed because it was overwhelmed by so many people wanting to log on at the same time to get them some Obamacare.  But people who actually know how to design websites said it wasn’t a capacity problem.  The problem is something common whenever the government tries to do anything.  They just did a poor job designing the Obamacare website (see Obamacare architecture flawed: Experts by Reuters posted 10/6/2013 on The Times of India).

Days after the launch of the federal government’s Obamacare website, millions of Americans looking for information on new health insurance plans were still locked out of the system even though its designers scrambled to add capacity.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversaw development of the site, declined to make any of its IT experts available for interviews. CGI Group Inc, the Canadian contractor that built HealthCare.gov, is “declining to comment at this time,” said spokeswoman Linda Odorisio.

Five outside technology experts interviewed by Reuters, however, say they believe flaws in system architecture, not traffic alone, contributed to the problems.

For instance, when a user tries to create an account on HealthCare.gov, which serves insurance exchanges in 36 states, it prompts the computer to load an unusually large amount of files and software, overwhelming the browser, experts said.

If they are right, then just bringing more servers online, as officials say they are doing, will not fix the site…

One possible cause of the problems is that hitting “apply” on HealthCare.gov causes 92 separate files, plug-ins and other mammoth swarms of data to stream between the user’s computer and the servers powering the government website, said Matthew Hancock, an independent expert in website design. He was able to track the files being requested through a feature in the Firefox browser…

[Matthew Hancock, an independent expert in website design,] said because so much traffic was going back and forth between the users’ computers and the server hosting the government website, it was as if the system was attacking itself.

Hancock described the situation as similar to what happens when hackers conduct a distributed denial of service, or DDOS, attack on a website: they get large numbers of computers to simultaneously request information from the server that runs a website, overwhelming it and causing it to crash or otherwise stumble. “The site basically DDOS’d itself,” he said.

Did you catch that?  President Obama and the Democrats have lambasted corporations for outsourcing American jobs.  Called them a whole bunch of nasty names.  Unpatriotic.  Greedy.  You name it.  And yet here they are.  Outsourcing the design of the Obamacare website.  So I guess the Obama administration is unpatriotic, greedy, etc.

Those “92 separate files, plug-ins and other mammoth swarms of data to stream between the user’s computer and the servers powering the government website” does not fill one with a lot of confidence that our private and personal data they’re collecting will be secure.  Complicated systems are more subject to breaking down.  And getting hacked.

If these people who actually know how to design websites are right that means the Obama administration lied to us about what was wrong with the Obamacare website.  Of course, president Obama said if we liked our health insurance plan and our doctor we could keep them.  Which were lies.  It seems like the Obama administration has a habit of lying to the American people to get what they want against our will.

Not only that they sic the IRS on their political enemies.  As well as using the IRS to suppress voter turnout on the right.  By making it harder for Tea Party groups to be politically active like they were in the 2010 mid-term election.  Who rose up in opposition to Obamacare.  Had the Obama administration not use the full weight of their powers to suppress the Tea Party during the 2012 election President Obama would not have won reelection.  And Obamacare may have already been repealed by this time.  For it was conservatives that sat home and didn’t vote for Romney.  Because the Tea Party wasn’t active like in the previous election to motivate them.  Or they were intimidated by the left and were afraid of the IRS.  Further reasons to fear the data mining of the Obamacare website.  Which the IRS will have access to.

Perhaps we should be grateful that they designed the Obamacare website poorly.  For it will let us keep our personal and private information secure for a little longer.

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Is the NHS Computer System Crash in Scotland a Harbinger of what is to come with Obamacare?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 5th, 2013

Week in Review

One of the keys to making health care better under Obamacare is by digitizing our medical records.  To allow the swift sharing of our personal information with medical providers.  A one-stop-shop, if you will.  Where everything you would ever want to know about someone (income, Social Security number, home address, names of family members, embarrassing medical conditions, etc.) is but a click away.  All sitting nice and tidy in one massive database.

Hmmm, wait a tic.  Isn’t that kind of dangerous?  I mean, is there anything more frustrating when you can’t get your balance at the bank because the computer is down?  But that’s only a banking system.  I’m sure that would never happen with a national computer system for Obamacare that is guarding our most private and personal information (see NHS IT staff hopeful about fix for Glasgow health board area posted 10/3/2013 on BBC News Glascow & West Scotland).

Scotland’s largest health board has said its IT system is working again after a two-day crash saw hundreds of appointments and procedures cancelled.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said it still does not know what caused the problem which affected 11 hospitals.

The health board said no patient information had been lost and data gathered during the crash would be manually added to update the system…

Mr Calderwood said the “unprecedented” systems crash related to the health board’s computer network and the way staff connected to clinical and administrative systems.

“The situation is that as users log on they go through a system called Microsoft Active Directory, a router system which recognises users and allows individual access to our clinical and administrative support systems,” he explained.

“This was corrupted over the weekend which became apparent when staff logged on to the system on Tuesday after the holiday weekend.”

Although the problem has been resolved, NHS GGC still does not know what caused it.

“You know, Mrs. Smith, I’m not happy with the grade you gave me for my paper.  That could hurt my scholarship chances for college.  So let’s make a deal.  You fix my grade and I won’t tell anyone about your HPV and your vaginal warts that you contracted when you were in high school, you filthy whore.”

In this day and age do we really want to make it easier for people to steal our identities or extort us?  They said no patient information was lost but how much was copied?  Which is a rhetorical question as they could never know.  Something happened.  But they have no idea what.  But there is nothing to worry about they insist.   Just because kids can hack into some of the most secured computer networks in the world what are the chances that someone hacked into theirs to steal most private and personal information we have in our lives?

Obamacare did not get off to an impressive start.  With the whole system going offline for repairs within the first week.  It would be sad if we remember these as the good days of Obamacare.  Before hackers began stealing our most private and personal information.

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