October 21, 2013

How Healthcare.gov Doomed Itself By Screwing Startups | TechCrunch

The severity of the problems with the ACA Exchanges puts big government inefficiency on display. This piece argues that the nimble startup private sector may well have been in a better position to build and operate these exchanges.

Nevertheless, I suspect the most severe problems are to be found in the backend, connecting the various government legacy systems. Perhaps the exchanges are fatally flawed by the wrong systems architecture.

The fact that the CIA will spend $600 million with Amazon Web Services should be seen as a signal that big systems and big data may best be handled by smart people who can leap ahead of legacy systems many of which were designed in the last century

How Healthcare.gov Doomed Itself By Screwing Startups | TechCrunch: "These types of solutions will be entirely absent from California and New York. Ironically, the president’s chief technology officer, Todd Park, often espouses the principle of “Joy’s Law,” named for legendary founder of Sun Microsystems, Bill Joy, which states that “no matter who you are, most of the smartest people in the world work for somebody else.” 
For a year, Park has been reorganizing the entire federal IT system to put data in the hands of private developers, rather than have government websites be the central hub. It is bizarre that the president’s signature initiative would ignore its own principles."

October 15, 2013

On a New Jersey Islet, Twilight of the Landline - NYTimes.com

The inevitable is upon us. POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) is nearly dead

As George Gilder predicted in 1995 in his book Telecosm, the copper telephone network must/will die because of the dual drivers of rapid technological advances and the 'socialist' morass of subsidies and regulatory overburden that ruled the copper network fostering Universal Service in the U.S during the last 70+ years.

Gilder had this to say:
"The fact is that the universality of telephones is crucial to their usefulness; yet universal service using current technology is totally uneconomical and impractical. Snow and ice are the least of it. The basic problem is the architecture of the system, with a separate pair of lines, on average two miles long, devoted exclusively to each user. It simply does not pay to lay, entrench, string, protect, test and maintain miles of copper wire pairs, each dedicated to one household that uses them on average some 15 or 20 minutes a day."
...the idea persists that wireless telephony is an expensive supplement to the existing copper colossus rather than a deadly rival of it. The installed base of
twisted-pair wire still appears to many to be a barrier to entry for new competitors in the local loop, rather than a barrier to RBOC entry into modern communications markets.
The conventional wisdom sees the electromagnetic spectrum as a scarce resource. Few believe that it will soon emerge as a cheaper and better alternative to the local loop, in the same way that microwave emerged as a cheaper and better substitute for copper long-distance wires. 

The death throes will be played out in many locales typified by this example in Mantoloking, NJ.
On a New Jersey Islet, Twilight of the Landline - NYTimes.com: "Verizon’s move on this sliver of land is a look into the not-too-distant future, a foreshadowing of nearly all telephone service across the United States. The traditional landline is not expected to last the decade in a country where nearly 40 percent of households use only wireless phones. Even now, less than 10 percent of households have only a landline phone, according to government data that counts cable-based phone service in that category."

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October 14, 2013

From the Start, Signs of Trouble at Health Portal - NYTimes.com

This story in the NY Times, normally a strong supporter of this Administration, reveals that the the health portal rollout was and is a colossal failure. Meanwhile, TeamObama has obviously been lying to the American people about it, if we are to believe this story.

Having been associated with complex information technology systems over the years, I am not surprised.  This one is even more fragile because users are not trained in its use and had high expectations because of experience with other complex website that work.  This situation was made doubly worse because Administration officials failed to tell the truth and properly set expectations.

Thank God our military software systems are normally thoroughly tested before deployment and work as they should.

This mess is a direct result of the politics surrounding ObamaCare and the fact that so many people disapprove of it. The roll-out failure is sure to further drag down its popularity and rightly so.

Will it be soon that top Administration officials will be fired? I think it's likely that Secretary Sibelius will lose her job.

From the Start, Signs of Trouble at Health Portal - NYTimes.com: "Interviews with two dozen contractors, current and former government officials, insurance executives and consumer advocates, as well as an examination of confidential administration documents, point to a series of missteps — financial, technical and managerial — that led to the troubles."

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European utilities: How to lose half a trillion euros | The Economist

A fascinating story about the combined effects of government policy and renewable electricity technology in Europe. Good intentions and massive subsidies have produced very high electricity consumer prices and decimated the finances of the electric utilities. The future seems even more uncertain as the consequences of these policies are destroying wealth with no demonstrable environmental benefit.

Are the same consequences in store for America?

European utilities: How to lose half a trillion euros | The Economist: "Those goals are now harder to achieve. Renewable energy has grabbed a growing share of the market, pushed wholesale prices down and succeeded in its goal of driving down the price of new technologies. But the subsidy cost also has been large, the environmental gains non-existent so far and the damage done to today’s utilities much greater than expected. Europe in general and Germany in particular see themselves as pioneers of low-carbon energy. If they are genuinely to be so, they will need to design a much better electricity system that rewards low-carbon energy without reducing reliability and imposing undue and unnecessary costs."

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October 10, 2013

Breaking News: House Republicans Discuss Plan for Short-Term Increase in Debt Ceiling - dusher@gmail.com - Gmail

Seems the logjam will break. I suspected Congressman Ryan was up to something because he had been so quiet in this recent wrangling. Also, no mention of the ACA in this.

Breaking News: House Republicans Discuss Plan for Short-Term Increase in Debt Ceiling - dusher@gmail.com - Gmail:

 "House Republicans gathered Thursday morning to discuss a plan to lift the government’s statutory borrowing limit temporarily to allow for negotiations on a package of deficit reduction and tax reform proposals that could lead to a reopening of the government and an end to the threat of government default."

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October 9, 2013

Paul Ryan: Here's How We Can End This Stalemate - WSJ.com

Congressman Ryan's opinion piece suggests that budget negotiations are essential and some common ground may exist among Republicans and Democrats. And he makes no mention of the Affordable Care Act.

Paul Ryan: Here's How We Can End This Stalemate - WSJ.com:

"Over the next 10 years, the Congressional Budget Office predicts discretionary spending—that is, everything except entitlement programs and debt payments—will grow by $202 billion, or roughly 17%. Meanwhile, mandatory spending—which mostly consists of funding for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security—will grow by $1.6 trillion, or roughly 79%. The 2011 Budget Control Act largely ignored entitlement spending. But that is the nation's biggest challenge."

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