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“Tech Surges” Just Never Work

Have you heard of Google.com, BigYellow.com, Amazon.com or eBay? Huge systems that work pretty much every time you try to use them. I can personally attest that BigYellow only took six weeks to build from scratch. How about Healthcare.gov?

Give the Federal Government three years and more than a half billion dollars, and what do they come up with? Something that almost never works for anyone, and a new definition of the word “Glitch,” — which used to mean “an unexpected and usually minor problem; especially : a minor problem with a machine or device (such as a computer)” (Merriam-Webster’s dictionary). What’s minor about any of these Obamacare problems? And it’s just getting worse.

The US Department of Health and Human Services is planning on using a “Tech Surge”  to fix the problems with Obama care. Simple solution to a simple problem, right? A tech surge worked in Iraq, didn’t it? Maybe it was just a surge. But this surge is certainly going to help the Obamacase Crash Site, right?

As we learned from the mythical Man month nine women working together just can’t have a baby in one month. In fact nine women working together can’t make a baby at all. The spurious belief amongst some non-programming managers (read: Federal Government) that if it takes a programmer six-months to develop a module then six programmers could do the job in one month is absolutely wrong.

Well, I’ve worked on similar large complex systems on the web over the years.  Some of the largest systems ever created.  I found, clearly, that the more people you have working on the software, the user interface, the database, and all of the different sections of the code — the longer it takes to get the code working.

Obama‘s been busy saying that he’s got some of the best and brightest working on the surge. It should be easy for them to fix the minor “Glitches” in the system. Maybe, when he refers to “the Best,” he’s gone and hired the geek squad from Best Buy. After all, they’ve got “Best” in the name. I just don’t know. But ultimately my phone never rang 🙂

So what does this mean for “United States persons”? Looks like it means months more of problems with the Obamacare website, followed by years of pain for everyone who has to live under the entire law.

Building a big website like this is not, actually, that difficult. I did it years ago for Nynex by building and deploying NIYP (Nynex Interactive Yellow Pages) , followed by BigYellow.  When I got involved, they had dozens of companies working on building the next generation, and in fact they even paid a large consulting firm millions of dollars to create the next generation of BigYellow. After months of  not getting it to work right, missing deadlines and slipping schedules, they brought me in. Not only was I able to get BigYellow working from scratch to finish in six weeks, but they brought me in to help the big consulting firm get their work done, too. All it took was a few weeks of competent adult supervision, and things were back on track.

Speaking of Nynex, I wonder if Verizon (Nynex’s successor, and Obamacare’s White Knight in Shining Armor) will need my help, too?  Hey guys & gals, feel free to give me a shout!

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