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Okay, let’s see if this can be posted without blowing up everyone’s access, because getting it embedded here has taken me twenty-plus minutes of #FAIL.
Went looking for this because commentor JPL brought up TPM’s shorter:
The House Energy and Commerce Committee asked John McAfee, the tech security guru who went on the lam in Central America last year under suspicion of murder, to examine the troubled rollout of Obamacare’s online insurance website, according to CNBC.
The consultation never occured, but that didn’t stop McAfee from sharing his thoughts with noted right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in an interview posted Tuesday on Jones’s website.
“My advice would be: Throw it away, and start over,” McAfee said. “You cannot fix the system that’s there. It is impossible, the way it is architected, any good programmer will tell you, it’s just not going to work… It will never work the way that it is.”
The committee sought McAfee, who was deported to the United States last December after being detained in Guatemala, to “guide our oversight and review of” the website’s launch, according to an email obtained by CNBC….
Even his meanest critics must concede that President Obama has been fortunate in his enemies.
ETA: As a counter-argument, Billmon links to this guy:
I’m writing this post as a rant. I am tired of hearing people who have never worked in Federal IT try and come forward with ideas about what was wrong about the way Healthcare.gov was developed. I have one statement for all of you who think you could have done better.
You would have ALL failed miserably.
Federal IT is broken. Hell, all of Federal contracting is broken from what I’ve seen, but I want to focus on the IT side for now.
Before I get started, a quick reminder of my background. My first Federal project was back in the late 90s as the tech lead for the Secretary of the Air Force’s correspondence tracking system. Over the years, I have worked on a multitude of projects and managed many more while I was the Director of Technology Solutions for Washington Consulting . I’ve responded to many proposals and run Federal IT projects through the wide variety of hurdles that they face.
I can tell you right now, I am impressed that Healthcare.gov even boots up…
Probably deserves a separate post all its own, except I’m not competent to judge his arguments.
If you can’t trust a megalomaniac millionaire who believes the Belize police are conspiring against him to frame him for murder because something something… then who can you trust?
‘Architected’ is a word?
And since when is there a problem with the architecture? It sounds like the contracter did not put enough resources into getting a complicated system functional, and may not have been able to considering the number of states that refused to integrate the ACA into their existing systems. The ACA system is not up to snuff, but it is not at all clear how the basic architecture of the system is the problem.
“Architected”? The man’s openly a butcher.
“It is impossible, the way it is architected, any good programmer will tell you, it’s just not going to work… It will never work the way that it is.”
Whoa, slow down with the technical jargon there, bud.
I’ve had McAfee Antivirus break perfectly good software (well, OK, Powerpoint) because it incorrectly identified a .dll as a virus and deleted it. At least healthcare.gov isn’t going to randomly remove my organs.
McAfee left the company he founded in 1994. Web programming in those days was like cuneiform on wax tablets compared to illuminated manuscripts.
Asking the guy who came up with MacAfee’s sucky anti-virus for advice on technical computer issues is a bit like the Romney campaign relying on Comcast to handle their website and servers.
That right there sums up the GOP in the 21st century
@Origuy: Shit, in 1994 we didn’t even have the [blink] tag.
@Jennifer: well, the guy who developed the zune wasn’t available
I went through my share of national scale, state-specific software installs for several years and while I’m not a programmer (I was on the “business” and user experience side) one thought that has occurred to me from that experience is that if *I* was in charge of the current ACA website show, I would have a parallel team working from (near) scratch and whoever got to a functional site first wins.
It can be hard to overcome fundamental requirement gathering and architectural errors.
This is every programmer’s advice about everything ever created by someone else, ever.
@TooManyJens: Hubby spent many an hour in his tech days fixing that error on family members’ computers. He hated MacAfee.
Does McAfee even know anything about the site’s architecture, or is he just doing “View Source” like the rest of us?
This asshole got famous/rich for creating something that was used back when processors were still denominated with ’86’ suffixes. He can go fuck himself. CNBC puts him on every now and then, like it’s a badge of honor to talk to a relic of the past and find out what’s been percolating in his mind.
Oh wait, they just had Jack Welch and Bob Nardelli on today, doing the exact.same.fucking.thing.
PF37 +coconut water / furiously sobering up before making a midnight McDonald’s run
@YellowJournalism: In fairness, I’m not sure I’ve ever met an antivirus package I didn’t hate.
@PsiFighter37: Mmmm…Midnight French fries.
@YellowJournalism: I’ve said that!
This dude is the best that they can find? Seriously?
Don’t you agree that fast food home delivery should be more common? For situations such as yours?
They should’ve consulted Peter Norton. I hear his crossed arms with strategically half-rolled-up shirt sleeves have aged quite well.
@Omnes Omnibus: You’ve seen how some Republicans use technology, right? Prime example: Chuck Grassley’s Twitter feed. Or Mitt Romney’s entire campaign.
Bob In Portland
Look into the Gus Boulis murder. It’s the same gang.
the mentally ill do seem to play a large role in any anti-Obama effort.
His meanest critics and his enemies are one in the same.
Not until the summer of ’94 any way.
‘Architected’ is a perfectly good programming word. It’s similar in meaning to designed, except it deals more specifically with how software components and infrastructure fit and work together. Having said that, from what I’ve read, there’s nothing wrong with the healthcare.gov architecture. They’re using service oriented architecture to integrate inputs from several systems, and that’s the right way to attack the problem. But since there is no standard API for the external systems, it’s an inherently difficult and fiddly problem.
I think Suzanne just died a little.
@YellowJournalism: Poutine or nothing baby. But I ain’t touching that Pizza Hut atrocity.
The CADT development model.
it’s all so sad and stupid, not that that will make the slightest difference going forward.
As a former software and current systems engineer, I’ll +100 @craigie:
But I really won’t know what to think about the ACA rollout until we hear from Orly Taitz.
@Spaghetti Lee: I suppose I could use Seamless or GrubHub, but not sure McDice is on those.
It’s hard to be a buzzed/drunken French Fries and a mystery meat burger at this hour. The only thing that’s a downer is I have to wake up in about 5 hours or so to go to work.
not that it matters. not that anything matters.
it’s all spin, all the time. this is the most intentionally stupid country in history.
It is a word in tech/developer circles. It drives me up the wall, but it’s true.
Love it! As it happens, I’m currently rewriting a big chunk of our product at work, but it wasn’t my idea, really, I was asked to do it. (In fact, I was hired to do it.) Does it make it better if the attention-deficit is someone else’s?
Call Apple… they rolled out a new free OS today. I had no [problem installing it quickly on 2 Macs. No doubt in my mind that they could get it done as most figured that the rush to upgrade would slow down the entire internet.
OMG, I just watched the clip and realized that John McAfee is basically a John Ringo protagonist.
I don’t think there are three people who actually give a damn about this country in any position to do anything for it.
@YellowJournalism: Grassley has a Twitter feed?
One of the many perks of a lifetime on the government tit.
@Little Boots: Obama. Pelosi, Reid, Biden. Haha! I win.
To echo the other programmer putzes, ‘architected’ is too a word. A term of art, to be sure, but a word nevertheless.
Not that words have meanings.
I do feel sorry for anybody who had to work on this. Oracle + 36 completely different/nonexistent APIs + federal software that might literally be running Fortran + six-month deadline = failure.
okay fine, there are, wait a minute, what can pelosi do, really?
@Little Boots: She can deliver the fuck out of Dem votes.
@MikeJ: Pretty funny. Sadly true.
@Little Boots: help with a recall petition, in situations where the rules haven’t been changed to preclude it?
Discharge. Discharge petition. Where’s the mobile edit button?
I really liked that Rachel Maddow segment. I find John McAfee interesting, because despite his efforts, he’s just not an interesting person. Becoming a celebrated millionaire loser on the level of Howard Hughes takes a certain kind of genius.
@Omnes Omnibus: More like his interns do. I’m amazed he could even manage to turn a computer on.
@Yatsuno: Have you read his tweets? I’m pretty sure those are emanating from the finely honed mind of the man himself.
@J.Ty: Yeah, don’t casually toss the word recall at a cheesehead like Little Boots.
yet people expect a website for tens of millions to hook up health insurance to work right out of the gate.
which is proving surprisingly useful still. that is true.
@Omnes Omnibus: I’m a little dulled (J.Ty + breaking bad marathon) so I don’t get the reference :-/
ETA: the mobile template seems to have changed. And the edit button is back!
and what are you these days?
This is why more and more people hate Washington. The Republicans are complete lunatics and mean-spirited bastards who are intent on depriving people of basic healthcare coverage. Democrats are apparently forced to argue “Hey, it’s not Obamacare’s fault that the website sucks, the entire Federal government contracting program is shitty,” as if we should be comforted in knowing that a much wider swath of the Federal government in incompetently run and its really has nothing to do with Obamacare. In other words, “we’re incompetent, but at least our hearts are in the right place.” [Insert your deity of choice] help us all.
@J.Ty: Cheesehead = Wisconsin resident. Walker and state senate recalls. Some of us are still a little twitchy about the word recall.
okay, damn, this is truly awesome. and rachel maddow really is a national treasure.
@Omnes Omnibus: They already trying to Earl Warren you?
Free market final solutions.
@Omnes Omnibus: Oh, god, duh. Thanks.
ETA: I grew up in Colorado and I twitch at the word ‘recall’ too nowadays.
breaking bad marathon is worth everything else, even better than knowing this latest wingnut hero.
I’m glad somebody noticed my attempt at irony!
(P.S. To be honest, I am the opposite of technologically skilled, and also don’t get paid for this gig.)
@TooManyJens: Oh I’m certain they’re his words. I just figure there’s some cute little thing following him around typing it onto his account.
And yet T&H claims he does….
@TooManyJens: Have to agree. It has to be him, or he’s not very nice to the interns, so they make him look like a technological moron. I can’t stomach the thought of actually following him, but the retweets are hilarious.
@TooManyJens: Don’t know who John Ringo is but as I watched the clip I was thinking he’s trying to be Iron Man. But he ain’t as good looking as Robert Downey Jr.
@Anne Laurie: people who expect a website for five users to work right out of the gate are kidding themselves too. There’s always going to be the one guy who likes using umlauts or names his user DROP TABLE us////ers; or whatever. Or maybe they’re just named José.
ETA: I like the new mobile format!
we’re in for decades of this crap, aren’t we?
and not to make the guy who doesn’t like me, like me even less, but why the hell don’t you get paid for this gig?
Not intentionally anyway.
or any time soon
(could not resist)
oh, it can’t be sleepytime already here.
1) Is the tech industry not rife with Republican-leaning “I got mine fuck you” assholes? If so, couldn’t the Republicans have found a better spokesman than John McAfee?
2) If there ends up being a silver lining to the website rollout, it could be that people finally realize how badly they get screwed by contracting out. “Public-private partnerships” have been the thing for the last few decades, and they have always meant that a company gets rich by doing shoddy work and sticking the government with the bill. The Snowden debacle was a contracting job too.
There is a sound logic to vertically integrating government processes. If the government controls an entire operation, they are responsible for the whole thing and can enforce standards. Contracting out bits and pieces to different companies means that they can’t control the results and will get blamed when things go wrong. This is equally true for private companies, which some of the money types seemed to be on the verge of learning during the Romney campaign. (“What do you mean our consultants have been lying to us?”)
We’re in the midst of two large IT contracted projects, and they’re both horribly fucked. The general sentiment is that anyone who is sufficiently qualified to execute these kinds of projects is inherently unqualified to win a government IT contract.
Last weekend I was talking with someone who was bitching about how outrageous it was that healthcare.gov wasn’t working properly. At one point I mentioned that they were currently working as a consultant to a medium sized health insurance company in the midwest. And didn’t they tell me a few weeks ago how incredibly bad their own internal software was – poor security, poor processes, don’t integrate well with billing, etc. “Yes…” So, first, private enterprise is no better than the government at this stuff, apparently. “Well…” And didn’t you mention that the company had products on the exchanges? So maybe part of the problem with signing up isn’t the healthcare.gov code, but the code at the company you’re consulting for which you have admitted is atrociously bad? “Uh…”
Yeah. Let me tell you, government IT is horrifyingly bad, and enterprise IT outside of a handful of places like Google is only slightly better.
would seriously love to know, how much of this is a General Services Administration problem? I suspect that needs the kind of reform that both parties have been resisting for decades.
but not sure if that is what happened here.
Must. Have. IPad Air.
yes, true, but this should have been manhatten project perfect. this was a fuckup. it’s not too late, but nobody should be okay with this.
And while Google and others might have been better equipped to do this kind of rollout, there isn’t a chance in hell they would have bid on a lowest-bid contract like that.
Fast, good, cheap: pick 2.
Federal rules mandate cheap. Congress mandated fast. Good lost out.
I just sit back and fondly remember this very site’s own “upgrade” and the amount of time it took to fix the issues here to accommodate the different browsers and access points and the goggle incredulously about how to boot up a national government website, with links to all 50 states and all of the ways and machinations involved in linking to all of the providers in all of the states and their various and sundry plans and the fact that people were able to get registered is something of a marvel for me. Granted, a website application is only as good as it’s beta testers (imho) and in this case, those folks obviously didn’t calculate enough load or enough stupid into their testing protocols… but hey, those things can be fixed and often are.
Remember during the invasion of Iraq how all the sane people were complaining about the no bid contracts that were being let? Remember the showers with live electricity run into them?
That’s the other side of the GSA hassle.
@Little Boots: Manhattan project wasn’t contracted. Neither was the moon shot. Neither was cheap, either. So why do we try and shove this baby out through the federal minimum-bid contract process?
@Burnspbesq: A lot of people are making jokes about accidentally tossing it out the window. Sadly, I’m such a klutz that in my case the jokes would be true.
And with that I see I need to charge the old iPhone and head my ass back to bed. Woke up with a tummy ache and relieved it by taking my mind off it with you good folks.
I was trying to figure out how to introduce this point into the conversation. It sounds like the website and other federally owned pieces have issues, but fixing all of those wouldn’t give you a completely functional system because many of the various private companies and state agencies that interface with the exchanges have issues of their own.
but is actual oversight impossible? can nobody be the one to say, this is totally fucked up, we need to do something about this?
and if that’s the problem, let’s hear about it. and do something about it.
it may be everyone tried to do everything too cheap, but let’s not pretend it didn’t lead to a big fuckup if that’s the case.
@Little Boots: Sure, but oversight costs money and takes time. It gets in the way of getting things done right this second as cheaply as possible.
and that is the political problem. yeah, I get that.
but we, the rational, get to actually look at the real problems.
@MikeJ: GSA has nothing to do with computer setups. Often those are the purview of the agencies themselves. The IRS has an internal IT department (that I like to bitch about but has saved my bacon more than once) and HHS does as well. Contracting this out was probably the only way of keeping HHS’s IT staff from losing their gourds. I still blame Stephen Harper.
@Little Boots: One of the causes is that one of the political parties was fighting against implementation of the law in every way they could think of. They just shutdown the government to prevent Obamacare from receiving funding. They were never going to allocate additional funds to make sure it was built properly. But to mention that is “playing politics” and “not accepting responsibility”.
that I did not know. I thought they were part of this.
and this is true. but they knew that, going in.
this is a huge part of this administration. can nobody be in charge of making it work, regardless of the inevitable republican obstructionism.
@Little Boots: The fact that a giant fucking website doesn’t work perfectly with in 21 days of coming online, what with the government shut down which just might have had an effect on people identifying and solving problems, should come as a great surprise. People need to sign up by January 1, 2014. If they can do it by then, it works.
and hopefully that all works and there is no problem by then. and isn’t by march?
@Little Boots: It is still October, right? Changes have already been made so that people can browse without registering.
good, not saying it can’t be fixed. it was a fuckup, really, not worth pretending it wasn’t. but I’m glad it is being fixed.
The prophet Nostradumbass
@Omnes Omnibus: It looks like the deadline, to avoid a fine, is February 15, 2014. If you want coverage that starts on January 1, you need to sign up by December 15.
@The prophet Nostradumbass:
though according to lawrence odonnell, the fine is unenforceable, by statute, ever.
The prophet Nostradumbass
@Little Boots: I hope you will forgive me for not trusting O’Donnell’s reading of the law.
Higgs Boson's Mate (Crystal Set)
Sources close to Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert revealed that he has uncovered positive proof of conspiracy and cover up in the botched ACA roll out. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one Gohmert staffer described the United States Navy’s stubborn refusal to go to GIlligan’s Island and bring back The Professor. “That Professor guy would have nailed Obama’s hide to the wall and Obama knows it,” Gohmert was quoted as saying.
Fast, good, cheap: pick 2.
Yup. In publishing, that is said all the time. Copy-editing, proofreading, anything… Pick 2 of the 3 because you can’t have all 3 at once.
MacAfee is a half nuts blowhard and that is the point for the GOPers. They can count on him saying outrageous stuff and whipping up a stink so all eyes and ears will shift away from Epic Fail Shutdown 2013. Onward to the next useless mess and with gusto! YOUBETCHA! (where’s one of them winkey smiley faces when ya really need one?)
@Little Boots: O’Donnell is going to write the IRS a letter for me, telling them they can’t take my money? Can I sue O’Donnell for malpractice when the IRS laughs and laughs and laughs?
A Humble Lurker
They deliver McDonalds in other countries. South Korea is for one.
Finally. A voice of reason.
@Little Boots: for fucks sake the president has said that. Cant we move on past the breast beating already?
Republicans looking to McAfee for expertise is akin to their hearings on abortion where only old White men testified.
Federal IT is broken. The “counter-argument” is spot-on.
@sdhays: This. And during the shutdown, most of them weren’t there. If we (feds) can’t be here, neither could they.
Jockey Full of Malbec
I’m in architecture and if someone in my group were to use the word ‘architected’, they’d be accused of talking like a 2 year old.
Knight of Nothing
Everyone should share that essay by Laurence Hart at Word of Pie. It’s a realistic assessment of the issues with doing large IT projects for the government. And lest anyone tell you that the government can’t do anything right, I’d add (as an IT dork myself) that any large organization, public or private, faces the same challenges that he enumerates in his essay.
Antivirus software is scareware. If you want a pragmatic read on what is going on with computer security and viruses, I recommend http://vmyths.com/
The long and short of it is, a great number virus scares are just urban myths or hoaxes. People like McAfee made their fortunes promoting a state of near-constant panic.
Edited to add: in IT, “architected” is in fact common usage. Whether it is in a dictionary or not yet is moot. McAfee is a tool, but not because of that.
gee, i wonder if a lot of the federal exchange’s problems come down to inability to interface properly with state databases. in red states where the GOP governorship has gone out of its way to avoid letting the state system interface with the federal exchange.
no, that’s crazy talk. it’s not like the GOP has been sabotaging obamacare from every possible angle since the ink was dry. i’m sure jon stewart will be on again to point out how both sides are to blame for this ‘mess’.
@? Martin: I’d argue that the moon shot *was* a contract job. Gene Krantz talked about contractors extensively in his book “Failure Is Not An Option”. During the Apollo 13 crisis, he had nothing but praise for them.
And who could forget John Glenn’s famous quip about sitting on two million parts…all of them manufactured by the lowest bidder.
But, back on topic, there are still some apt comparisons between the moon shot and the ACA:
Everybody remembers Apollo 11…we finally got a man on the moon.
Nobody remembers Apollo 1…that little design glitch that killed 3 and grounded the whole fucking program for a year.
Some epic concern trolling there, Bootsy.
It’s Bill Frist and Terri Schiavo all over again.
Tragic as this is just about to fall off the front page, but I have been involved in federal IT work for more than a decade. Every word that gentleman wrote is true. If anything, he somewhat understates the problems. He cites so many experiences I’ve been through I dug out my old contact lists just to make sure he wasn’t a former co-worker of mine. He’s not.