November 12th, 2012

Epic Fail

It's A Killer (Whale) Of An App

* riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing! *  Okay, class.  Eyes up front.  Today's lesson:  Software Engineering 101.

We are going to discuss a fun little program called Project ORCA.  It was created by the Republicans to help get out for the vote for Romney's campaign.  Now, before I go any further, I want to emphasize Project ORCA was nothing Big Brotherish or anything like that.  It was something that happens every election, just computerized instead of done with pen and paper.  This concerns a little political something called "strike lists".  These have been going on ever since telephones revolutionized human contact.

Since people have trouble with abstract ideas, let me illustrate using a fictional analogy starring the Meadowcratic Party (hee hee).  The idea is this:  you operate out of the Meadowcrat headquarters, and get yourself a list of registered voters for a particular district.  You give this list to an operative who goes to the polling place.  Each time a person comes in to vote, they have to identify themselves to the election judges.  You then tick, or "strike," that name off your list.  Periodically, usually once an hour, another operative from Meadowcrat HQ comes and either copies your list or gives you another with previously struck names removed (word processing has made this viable).  The operative returns to HQ and gives you the list.  You then have people working the phones at HQ call the people not marked off and encourage them to get to the polls to vote for Bill and Opus.

Everybody still with me so far?  That's good!

So, what was Project ORCA?  Project ORCA was the R's attempting to computerize the process.  It looked good, you should pardon the expression, on paper.  The lists and information would transmit over the Internet onto people's smartphones.  Not only would they have an easier time locating names and marking them off, but HQ could check at any time instantly instead of waiting for someone to travel to the polling place and travel back and processing the list.

So, what went wrong?  Several things....

1)  The whole program was not adequately beta'ed.  For example, stress testing for when the network was live on Election Day and petabytes of data were shuttling hither and yon.  No allowances for DDoS attacks, either.

2)  People were told their "packets" explaining the program would be arriving.  It was unknown if they would be hard copies or what (they were .pdf's sent by email the Monday before the election), meaning some people didn't bother to check their email and were waiting for the post office.

3)  Not everyone got those manuals.  They couldn't have put up a web site where you could download it?

4)  The manual was 60 pages long.  Keep in mind, most people using this would not be the most tech savvy in the world, and they were supposed to wade through a 60 page manual received, if at all, at 4PM, roughly 14 hours before polling places opened (while still taking care of sleep, jobs, whatever)?

5)  Project ORCA was a web application, but the R's told their troops it was an "app".  So instead of going to the web site as they should have, people were checking Apple's App Store and Google Play for the Project ORCA app.

(Side issue:  the R's didn't take care of their troops' poll watcher credentials properly.  Poll watchers had to go to the "Victory Center" (a.k.a. campaign HQ) to get them.  That cost more time right there.)

6)  Some people were getting lists and passwords for other areas that didn't work with their identities.

7)  The web address didn't automatically redirect users from http:// to https://.  This means people had to enter the SSL site manually.  Those who went to the proper regular address just got a blank screen, making them think the network was down (which can be fixed with a single script that takes thirty seconds if you're a bad typist.  GG).

8)  People calling looking for answers got voicemail and anything other than a person.  No one called back.  Rumor has it the network itself crashed at 4PM.

Meanwhile, the D's with their door to door campaigns and pen and paper strike lists were getting out the vote.

So, if you are looking to mobilize voters, do yourself a favor -- go old school.

Class dismissed.

America -- Love It Or Leave It!

Okay.  Before we go any further, I want to show you something.

Voting Breakdown 2012

For those easily confused, this is a visual representation of how each district voted in the election.  Red means it went to Mittens, blue means it went to Obama.

Everybody still with me so far?  That's good!

As I mentioned, Obama won with good old fashioned Chicago Machine politics.  Mittens blanketed most of the country, but still couldn't pull it off.

Now, at this point, rational people are going, "Well, Obama is president, Congress is as it was (only one seat changed, a Senate seat went to the D's), we might as well get on with it."  Like with Obamacare, this is how it is, it's set in stone, let's move forward and make the best of it.

So what are the irrational people doing?

Trying to secede from the union.  Man, and to think conservatives were making fun of liberals for saying they wanted to move to Canada after Shrub won re-election.  Jesus.

Twenty states have taken up petitions to secede from the Union.  For the curious, the twenty states are:

* Alabama
* Arkansas
* Colorado
* Florida
* Georgia (in fact, there are TWO petitions for Georgia)
* Indiana
* Kentucky
* Louisiana
* Michigan
* Mississippi
* Missouri
* Montana
* New Joisey
* New Yawk
* North Carolina
* North Dakota
* Oregon
* South Carolina
* Tennessee
* Texas know, there's at least a couple of states on that list I wouldn't mind if they left the Union....

...sorry!  Just blue skying here.  Anyway, in order for the petitions to be considered, they each need 25,000 signatures by December 7, 2012.  Texas has already gotten that many, and Louisiana is close behind.  Curiously, there's a significant number of states that Obama won on that list.

So what will happen?  Probably nothing.  See, they are basically asking for permission to secede.  Even if each one gets the requisite number of sigs, the odds of Obama saying, "Okay, go ahead and secede, see if I care," are roughly the same as the heads of the Catholic church and the Protestant church having a prayer breakfast in Salt Lake City.

So it's a stupid publicity stunt, just to piss off Obama, instead of doing anything actually, you know, CONSTRUCTIVE.

Stay classy.
Thor Likes It

Words Will Always Retain Their Power

Julie Brown is a longtime comedic actress.  She never quite got good traction, so she's been kind of hit and miss on the radar.  She does some great stuff (Earth Girls Are Easy), but she also can fall quite flat (Strip Mall).

For Brown to be at her best, she needs a satirical target.

And she's found one.

It's Victoria Jackson.

Watch and laugh.

Epic Fail

Department Of Corrections -- The Twenty States Trying To Secede From The Union

My entry about the states looking to secede from the Union got the following comment from the fine and upstanding  hellaine:

"Well, it's individual nutcase citizens putting out those secession petitions, not the actual states or governors. I think that's an important distinction to make."

She is absolutely right.  I recognize some may not think this deserves a "Department Of Corrections" entry, but it's my blog, it's my rules.  And I say she makes a very valid point and it is something to keep in mind in the middle of my rant.  So I apologize for tarring so many with one brush.