Orca: How to kill your own killer app

I was amazed at the technological incompetence shown in this story:

Politics aside, this was just a terrible way to implement a program, let alone one as critical as Orca. There are dozens of stupid decisions, like lack of training, not letting users test before the implementation, screwing up passwords, and not even doing a simple redirect for people who enter “http” instead of “https.”

(I think you should ask for a thread title change to something a little more descriptive.)

Very interesting and somewhat hilarious article. It’s also worth reading the link contained in the article that’s straight from a Romney-volunteer’s POV. (The picture of the poll-watchers’ checklist including the “bring a chair” twice, yet neglecting to mention “bring credentials” made me LOL!)

I find it amusing how Mitt always boasted about how, since he was a businessman, he was more qualified to run the country. Meanwhile, he apparently wasn’t even qualified to run his own campaign.

The Romney Campaign Was A Consultant Con Job

So where’s the problem? The makers of the app created a product, made gobs of money off of it, and screwed the consumer. Isn’t that pretty much the way Bain works? :stuck_out_tongue:

The comments in response to that Red State piece reveal some seriously distorted thinking.

Never read the comments. Comments are the mind-killer. Comments are the little death that brings obliteration.

Just say no to comments.

OK, I had a quick look. I’ll note this one:

The whole point of electing Romney was to make sure ‘wealthy charlatans’ can line their pockets! Why is this guy upset?

I like this one:

Someone else blamed outsourcing to India. Priceless.

These are the same people that keep telling us that the private sector does everything better and more efficiently than government, right?

It looks like the software was perfectly able to do what it was designed to do. It was the implementation that was a clusterfuck. I’ve had to implement software, and if it had been done so poorly, I’d be out of a job.

What sort of web designer forgets to direct “http” to “https” automatically? Why wasn’t there a test server for users to try several weeks before the election? Why didn’t they tell their ISP to expect heavy usage?

This isn’t a political failure; it’s incompetent IT management. I suspect the people at the campaign didn’t listen to IT (a common issue in many organizations).

Here’s the counter-point:

One interesting point from the Time article on the Obama campaign - they began working on their database 18 months ago. That’s a tremendous advantage for an incumbent seeking re-election, over the guy who’s fighting for the nomination until six months before election day.

Note that while there is a some anecdotal stuff about Orca being bad, there are also stories out there that said it “mostly” worked. Not great, but good enough.

There is a lot of spin going on about why Romney lost. A lot. Demographics, tech, money (which is a really hilarious claim), bad polling, etc. But it is all spin. It was about issues. People are in serious denial about this. If you have mainstream stances on issues, then demographics don’t matter.

This “blame Orca” stuff is just a distraction. Forget about it.

Distorted, sir? I defy you to find a hole in this logic, quoted from a much longer comment:

"4. In 2012, Mitt Romney was surging in the polls a week before the
election. Then came the hurricane Sandy. Thereafter he lost the election.

  1. No prior hurricane has devastated all major battleground states to this
    degree. Was this the long awaited Was this the long awaited October

  2. Human beings have the ability to manipulate weather patterns. Bush 43
    set up project HAARP to generate sand storms in Iraq. Obama has expanded

God sent Hurricane Isaac to disrupt the Republican convention.

God sent Hurricane Sandy to disrupt the Romney campaign and to show Obama acting presidential.

Clearly, God is for Obama and is punishing the Republicans.

It was probably the Russians and not Obama. Putin is already a James Bond villain- why not give him the ability to control the weather?

Romney’s been running for President just as long as Obama has. I refer, of course, to 2007, when both men began seeking the nomination for their party’s candidacy. Seriously, Romney’s had plenty of time to figure this out. I’ve got no sympathy for him on those grounds.

Plus this would have been helpful to him in the primaries. It’s not like he couldn’t afford it - except that he learned his lesson from Bain to never use his own money.

Come now. The rich chumps got taken by Rove. The poor chumps got taken by the GOP. It is equal opportunity for chumps in the Romney campaign.

I think the main problem with the App was a lack of testing. I have heard* that the software developers were at the point of Beta testing ORCA six weeks ago, when they received a frantic message from Paul Ryan who denounced testing as being dangerously close to Science and hence Atheism.

[sub]*the voices in my head were pretty convincing at any rate[/sub]

As someone pointed out in the comments section of some other article I read, this would have been the perfect time to use cloud-based servers, as they can expand and contract bandwidth as it’s needed. That way you don’t have to make sure your server software scales. It’s perfect for a short term burst in activity, which is what they clearly should have been expecting.

Because it couldn’t scale, ORCA actually shut down. Plus, let’s not forget that people who were supposed to use ORCA didn’t get their badges they needed to get in, (as the documentation had a mistake that didn’t tell them they needed one) and didn’t get in. Imagine if ORCA was running at full capacity.