As a retired computer programmer I am mystified by the public’s perception that there is something mystical in the field of information technology.
People pay outrageous prices for software. They accept the help desk expense to get it running, keep it running or provide workarounds instead of correcting the problem. They accept the premise that if someone corrects an issue with their computer it will of necessity cost a lot.
Microsoft provides a product line that, if delivered in another form such as automobile, TV or appliance, would be declared unusable by Consumer Reports and rejected flat out. Yet the creation of great wealth by monopolistic practices eliminating competition, which is good for the consumer, is looked on as a good thing. The CEO is a “great guy.”
Failure to deliver a product successfully to market is never addressed. Delivering new versions incompatible with previous versions forcing complete rewrites of applications is ignored.
However, let an application fail to deliver on promises and expectations in the government arena and the only person at fault is the CEO. The president is the last person responsible for the rollout issues. An application as complicated as the Affordable Care Act would have bugs in it no matter how long it took to bring online. Working out those bugs is the responsibility/job of the computer programmers — not the president.
Politicians with a private agenda are making the most of this issue. Instead of working toward a workable solution and moving forward, we once again are mired down in efforts to bypass and even revoke the law.
For months I have been communicating with the Times Argus editor about bugs in the online application. Comments entered online by the public go missing. Don’t show up at all. Don’t follow the same article delivered by the application via different links. Do or don’t show up depending on if you are signed in or not. Don’t show up but are acknowledged as duplicate if you try to submit them again. The list goes on.
Part of the problem with this issue is that the feature is outsourced. Computer programmers not in direct control of The Times Argus are providing the deliverable. Getting things corrected takes time. That same status is applicable to the Affordable Care Act. Time is something the public is not willing to grant to the Affordable Care Act. That they demand it be perfect now is a totally unreasonable demand.
Alfred S. Blakey
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