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United States Government

Health Exchange Sites Crushed By Demand; Shutdown Blanks Other Gov't Sites 565

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-a-good-day-for-uptime dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The launch of a national health exchange site was marred by overloaded servers in several states around the country. In a White House press conference, President Obama said that by 7 a.m., there were over a million users, and he likened the capacity problems to the glitches that Apple experienced after discovering bugs in their rlease of iOS 7. 'I don't remember anybody suggesting Apple should stop selling iPhones or iPads, or threatening to shut down company if they didn't,' the president argued." Meanwhile, a number government websites went blank as a result of the shutdown, instead of simply lying dormant until personnel could return. The National Science Foundation, NASA, the FCC, and the Library of Congress are a few examples.
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Health Exchange Sites Crushed By Demand; Shutdown Blanks Other Gov't Sites

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @05:19AM (#45011837)

    Huh, funny that, the IRS seems fully up and running their site during the 'shutdown'.

    Maybe they should help Nasa out with theirs

    • by SJHillman (1966756) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @06:42AM (#45012075)

      The IRS is still collecting taxes, but has suspended audits and answering questions, among other things. They might consider the website essential to the tax collection thing.

      • by Cryacin (657549) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @06:49AM (#45012101)
        Love it, taxation without representation. Your tax dollars on furlough.
        • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot AT hackish DOT org> on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:09AM (#45012161)

          Nah, our representation is still getting paid too, alas.

        • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc@@@carpanet...net> on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:33AM (#45012265) Homepage

          Thats nothing new. Where was the representation before? There are 300 million people represented by about 600. Representation is a joke and has been for a long time. You don't institute a single non-transferable vote system because you want to represent people, you do it to manufacture consent for what you were going to do either way.

          • You do it because the election system was developed very very very early in the modern democratic era, and there hadn't been any "play-testing" of democracy, and then you include those imperfect rules into a constitution that is very hard to amend. It certainly results in the situation you describe, but ignorance is the cause, not malice.

            • by cold fjord (826450) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @09:35AM (#45013093)

              ... and there hadn't been any "play-testing" of democracy, and then you include those imperfect rules into a constitution that is very hard to amend.

              Actually the US Constitution is Democracy 2.0, or 3.0, depending on your point of view. The Colonies were originally governed by Great Briton, which is governed by Parliament. After the Revolution, the US was governed under the Articles of Confederation. The Articles of Confederation were found to be unworkable so they were replaced by the present Constitution. The Constitution has been amended quite a few times on important matters. The system has its oddities, but it has worked reasonably well for more than 200 years.

          • by dryeo (100693)

            You can always push for Article the First to be ratified and finish ratifying the original 12 amendments. You'd have a representative for every 50,000 people so about 6000 representatives. Harder to bribe them all and more responsive to those who they represent.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_the_first [wikipedia.org]

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @06:56AM (#45012117)

      The NSA, CIA, and the .mil adresses are all up.

      I actually find it pretty educational to see what our government conciders "essential" and what is not.

      • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:39AM (#45012295)

        They also passed an emergency funding bill yesterday to keep garbage collection in DC operating.

      • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:47AM (#45012339) Journal

        Shutting down websites is mostly political grandstanding. What does it cost to leave a website up, let it run on autopilot for a while, and not update any content? Just bandwidth and electricity. The new healthcare sites got over 1 million hits, but most of the time, most sites are nowhere near that busy. Probably cost more to have their website administrators change the sites to throw up a "sorry, we're closed" page. Saves a little on bandwidth. Doesn't save much on electricity.

        When Wikipedia and other majors sites went dark for 1 day, they didn't give us any bull about why. They said it was all about SOPA and PIPA, and they meant exactly what they said.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by gtall (79522)

          It might help if you understood how the government works before throwing stones at it. It is written into law which parts of government stay open and which close. Claiming some arbitrary website staying open won't cost the government much is entirely beside the point. Yes, you say, but then the law are not very good. Yes, I say, but no matter how you sliced it, some things you think are inessential are considered essential to others and vice versa. Hence we have legislators write them for us because having

          • by paiute (550198) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @08:50AM (#45012715)

            It is written into law which parts of government stay open and which close.

            It also turns out to be a Federal crime to undertake unfunded actions during the shutdown. These would put the employee in violation of the Antidefiniency Act of 1870:
            http://www.cnbc.com/id/101078243?__source=xfinity [cnbc.com]|mod&par=xfinity

          • by jafiwam (310805) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @09:00AM (#45012809) Homepage Journal

            It might help if you understood how the government works before throwing stones at it. It is written into law which parts of government stay open and which close. Claiming some arbitrary website staying open won't cost the government much is entirely beside the point. Yes, you say, but then the law are not very good. Yes, I say, but no matter how you sliced it, some things you think are inessential are considered essential to others and vice versa. Hence we have legislators write them for us because having 300 million people *helping* to write laws is silly.

            Ah. So it's political grandstanding written into law.

            Amazingly large difference there. {rolls eyes}

        • by halltk1983 (855209) <halltk1983@yahoo.com> on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @08:38AM (#45012619) Homepage Journal
          And if it gets compromised? And there aren't any sysadmins watching the logs and updating the software? And you don't know how long they're going to be gone? How many people do you think could be compromised by an unpatched 0-day up on a government "trusted" website for 21 days?
        • by Guppy06 (410832)

          What does it cost to leave a website up, let it run on autopilot for a while, and not update any content? Just bandwidth and electricity.

          I don't know where you live, but where I sit both bandwidth and electricity cost money.

          Everything that is "non-essential" has zero money to spend, for an indefinite time. Not "very little," not "not much," but jack and shit, and Jack just got furloughed.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Fewer government mandated healthcare sites means more porn sites for natural sexual healing!

  • It was a glitch because it affects the peons. Besides if Apple had all the problems this system did they would of been crucified in the newspapers and everywhere else.
    • by kerrbear (163235)

      It was a glitch because it affects the peons. Besides if Apple had all the problems this system did they would of been crucified in the newspapers and everywhere else.

      Agreed. Remember the Apple maps problems.

      Also, I don't get why they just didn't phase this in slowly. Why not just have everyone with a name that begins with 'A' get on today, 'B' tomorrow, etc. Or use the last 2 digits of your SSN for it. I bet even if it wasn't strictly enforced and they just asked nicely it probably would have worked out better than it did.

  • What not of people realise is, at the moment, there is some tenuous control over Gov't shut-downs. The time is coming where the shut down is brought on by external factors, like being broke and incompetent, and is therefore not a choice!
  • Bad Analogy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cornwallis (1188489) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @06:23AM (#45012019)

    'I don't remember anybody suggesting Apple should stop selling iPhones or iPads, or threatening to shut down company if they didn't,' the president argued."

    And Apple can't put us in jail for not buying their product. Although I'm sure they'd like to.

    • by msauve (701917)
      ...and Apple isn't losing money by subsidizing the price of their products.
    • And Apple can't put us in jail

      You don't go to jail, you are levied a fine.

      for not buying their product.

      The product doesn't come from the government, it comes from a health insurance company. It isn't the government's product.

      Although I'm sure they'd like to.

      The jailed environment of iOS isn't sufficient?

  • by misnohmer (1636461) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @06:40AM (#45012067)

    If I don't like Apple's bugs or capacity problems, I have the option to never pay for another Apple product. I don't have the option to opt out of ObamaCare.

    • by MrKaos (858439) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:49AM (#45012345) Journal

      If I don't like Apple's bugs or capacity problems, I have the option to never pay for another Apple product. I don't have the option to opt out of ObamaCare.

      Just opt out of getting sick or injured, I hear your fucked if you do in your country. When I get sick or injured i just go to the doctor or hospital and then go home until I'm better. Healthcare in the USA is something I hear everyone say "I hope our country is never that screwed". I can't opt out of my healthcare but I don't see my investments as so fragile that they need the extra $7.50 per month that it costs me to make sure I can go to hospital if I need to.

      I simply don't understand why it's such a big deal for America to fix something that is so obviously broken, your a superpower and your people are sneaking into Canada. It's really a sign that the US political system is so incapable of dealing with important infrastructure issues and the next stop is despotism. Seriously, someone should tell your far right republicans to pull their heads in and stop acting like spoilt brats because they can't get their way.

      I like you guys better than China, so I really hope that you can sort it out and get back to being the America that we used to look up to. I like (most) American people I've met, I think you deserve better than being discarded because of some misfortune and no decent heathcare.

      • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @08:50AM (#45012713)

        p> I simply don't understand why it's such a big deal for America to fix something that is so obviously broken, your a superpower and your people are sneaking into Canada.

        Americans aren't really sneaking into Canada, but as a born and bred American, I have in the past year or two completely given up hope of any major problems ever getting fixed here. I have to explain to one of my foreign friends that everything in America is political. Basically the country is split down the middle between the two major parties and neither side will listen to the others, although to be fair, as a former Republican I have to say that Republicans are much worse. The Republican Party itself has about 1/4 of its members as Tea Party fanatics and they are holding their own party hostage. The problem is that nobody in Congress wants to lose their job and the House of Representatives members have to please their constituents to stay in power, and many of the House members are in highly partisan districts. I've got a co-worker who is a paranoid right win nut job who apparently believes that everything that he doesn't like is either done deliberately by Obama or "the government" to deliberately mess with him. Maybe 20% of Americans right now are like him. So without any clear majorities and a public that actually chose to elect a split government (Senate and President to the Democrats, House to the Republicans) nothing will ever get done.

    • And if you don't have insurance and can afford it, you're part of the freeloaders in America that are causing this mess in the first place. If you have insurance already, the ACA only affects you in positive ways.
    • by neoform (551705)

      If I don't like Apple's bugs or capacity problems, I have the option to never pay for another Apple product. I don't have the option to opt out of ObamaCare.

      Are you also able to opt out of emergency medical care? Because you should be required to do so if you choose not to get health insurance. Otherwise you're shifting the costs to others.

  • by Bucc5062 (856482) <bucc5062.gmail@com> on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @06:50AM (#45012105)

    So the Government can send a few billion on a server farm in Utah for the NSA, but heaven help they send money on servers to handle 3 million people trying to log in at once.

    I am going to give the benefit of the doubt that there are smart people who set this up and even they could not anticipate the initial load factor. So the republicans tried everything in their power to make people afraid of the ACA and the result was overloaded systems. Perhaps that says something about the population as a whole. IT is easy to pull something down when you think you're not effected, but when you need it,real bad, then it becomes the most important thing to have.

    Anyway, the DBAs and Admins will figure this all out, the process will continue and within a week this will fade as the debt limit looms next.

    • by gtall (79522) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @09:01AM (#45012813)

      "So the Government can send a few billion on a server farm in Utah for the NSA, but heaven help they send money on servers to handle 3 million people trying to log in at once."

      Apples vs. Oranges. That's like saying the Government put a man on the moon, how come they cannot cure cancer. NSA didn't build their system overnight, it took years and they had to learn a lot in order to pull it off. Very few large IT projects ever come in on time and under budget. Not only that, most aren't directly facing your basic American. If you want to see how embarrassing your systems can be, open them up to the general public. They will do things of which you never thought. And each person has their notion of what they want out of that system.

  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@aol.cTWAINom minus author> on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:11AM (#45012175) Journal

    The government is actually spending MORE money to close these resources than it is keeping them open.

    An example is the closure of the memorials in DC. Normally there might be one parks officer roaming around them, but under the closure, there are dozens of park police manning the barricades to ensure nobody can go see them.

    It's all political theater. The Administration (and don't get me wrong, I don't give a shit of an R or D is in the white house - they both would do the same thing) is doing today exactly what it did with the sequester - it's punishing the American people as much as it can.

    Most of the sequester cuts were planned in a way to have the greatest negative effect on people, and these closures are being executed in the same way. Government is not happy that it has lost it's money source, and it figures the only way to get it back is to go around kicking people in the face to get them to scream at the people who control the purse strings.

    It's despicable. Instead of doing their jobs and negotiating the best possible compromise between all interested parties, they've become a bunch of extremists (on both sides) who refuse to negotiate. It's "my way or the highway."

    Obama in particular ought to be ashamed of himself. He campaigned on a platform of unity and leadership, and he has exemplified NONE of it. In fact he's the biggest one going on national TV proclaiming with pride that he refuses to negotiate.

    Fire them all. Seriously. Every last despicable goddamn one of them.

    • by smpoole7 (1467717) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:49AM (#45012347) Homepage

      > Most of the sequester cuts were planned ... to have a negative impact.

      My wife works for the federal government, so I think I know a bit about what's going on. :)

      You are absolutely right. The fact is, during a "shutdown," the government can decide which employees are "essential" and which can be furloughed. My wife is considered "essential," so she WILL go to work. She just may not get paid on time if this thing drags on.

      Both parties are guilty of this: when there's a shutdown, they decide whom to send home, and they will inevitably play to their base(s) and try to get the public angry at the other party. It's all political theater. They ought to wear makeup and costumes. And really: is there any geek here who doesn't know how to leave a Web server running overnight or on weekends? :)

      Hey, it's not like they didn't know this has been coming MONTHS in advance, is it? And to REALLY cheer you up, remember that we have a debt ceiling debate coming up in a couple of weeks. How much you wanna bet this wink, wink "shutdown" will continue past THAT debate? :)

    • by duke_cheetah2003 (862933) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:53AM (#45012375) Homepage

      How can Obama possibly negotiate? Repubs are demanding he kick his grandest achievement to the curb or they won't negotiate. Sorry. Obama is the not the villain here.

    • So in the USA if the government cannot agree a budget they just stop ...?

      In the UK the defeat of a supply bill (one that concerns the spending of money) automatically requires the resignation of the government or dissolution of Parliament, much like a non-confidence vote, since a government that cannot spend money is hamstrung. i.e Since the Government cannot agree on what to spend money they leave it to the will of the people ....

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      One thing you should know is that this has NOTHING at all to do with money. NPR ran a great article on the history of government shutdowns. Basically in the past it was never really an issue and while the government was defunded it was generally business as usual. It wasn't until some helpful lawyer pointed out that the moment people came to work in the defunded state they were working illegally.

      The government is forced by the letter of the law to furlough it's workforce. There is no money savings here, and

    • I read a good analogy yesterday: you can't have a hostage situation unless you have a hostage and a hostage taker. You can't put all the blame on the hostage taker.

  • The DEA is up! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by turp182 (1020263) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:22AM (#45012221) Journal

    At least the DEA website is up, letting us know they are still operating. Gotta get those pot smokers.

    http://www.justice.gov/dea/index.shtml [justice.gov]

    Meanwhile the USDA is down, but don't worry, there's no problem with our food supply.

    http://www.usda.gov/ [usda.gov]

    Makes sense to me. Going after the druggies is far more essential than the food we eat.

    Incomprehensible.

  • by MrKaos (858439) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:25AM (#45012241) Journal
    the gubberment!!!!...Wow
  • DDOS and Bogusity (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:33AM (#45012267)
    I have to wonder how much of the crush was due to the Randians, the Baggers, and Koch Whores trying to overwhelm the site and flood it with bogus accounts. Given the depth of their hatred of the working poor, it would not surpise in the least.
    • by T.E.D. (34228) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @10:11AM (#45013501)

      I have to wonder how much of the crush was due to the Randians, the Baggers, and Koch Whores trying to overwhelm the site

      As of two days ago, about a third of the USA (population: 300 million people) had no healthcare. When the whistle blows and they are all at once allowed to get coverage, only a moron wouldn't expect the largest server slashdotting in history. Even if they wanted to, malicous parties would have trouble generating a DDOS that would be more than noise compared to that.

  • a million (Score:4, Informative)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:41AM (#45012301)

    Well over a million users and their site couldn't handle it? Mr President, call up Yahoo or Go-daddy... they could have your site up and running in a few minutes.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:53AM (#45012373) Homepage

    Always done half assed by a contractor that barely has the skills to do the job. Honestly, who was the consultant because they were no talent n00bs in gauging the amount of traffic these sites would expect. Even if it is only an initial spike in traffic they could have EASILY paid for temporary increased infrastructure from places like rackspace to handle the first 3 months easily.

    Plus the number of outright failures and nasty bugs being reported makes me even wonder if they tested the sites.

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