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Ask HN: Who wrote Orca?
16 points by VonGuard 1776 days ago | hide | past | web | 16 comments | favorite
So, Romney's Orca campaigning application was supposedly written with Microsoft and a third party contract firm. Who was this firm? Anyone know? I'm more interested in figuring out whether they outright sabotaged the thing, or if it was just mismanaged and rushed. It's the first I've heard of software failures being involved in election coordination failures, and I find it interesting from a forensic stand point.

One of the comments mentioned a rumour of it being a division of Accenture in India.. which would be a story in of itself.


Soooooooooo, the Republican part out-sourced these campaign jobs?

> first I've heard of software failures being involved in election coordination failures

There are a bunch of vague reports that Obama's team had a similar failure of a big new computerized voter-tracking system on Election Day 2008, but they had also distributed the traditional paper "strike lists" to volunteers, so those were used as a fallback.

That's funny. Kinda like NASA and the Soviet space program. NASA spent 5 years and 100 million $ to develop a pen that writes in space. The Russians used pencils.

Whilst a funny anecdote, there's only a hint of truth to that story. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Pen

The Fisher 'space-pen' was developed independently without government funding and was actually later adopted by Russian cosmonauts as well.

Simple ingenuity aside, I can see why. Lead dust in zero gravity (and/or pencil shavings) not ideal for a mission-vehicle. They are normally assembled in a clean-room, no?

I'm sure there were enough failures in planning and execution for it not to be attributable to any one person, perhaps by design.

In any case, someone signed the check and approved the overall design. This someone is ultimately responsible for the failure.

Just because this is a search for a scapegoat doesn't mean that there is one. This project was the brainchild of at least two large dumb organizations, a political party and a campaign.

Most enterprise software projects sabotage themselves.


  Never attribute to malice that which
  is adequately explained by stupidity.

The question is <whose> stupidity? Assuming "the customer is always right", that leaves the vendor.

Although you may be implying: "the customer is always stupid".

Malice and stupidity aren't mutually exclusive.

From my reading of it they didn't do enough user testing or training. But this may have been outside the scope of the contracted firm; they probably delivered exactly what has asked for, and no more.

My reading seemed to indicate complete architectural failure. 11 database servers for the desktop app, but only 1 app/DB server for the mobile app, which most people were using. Also, Comcast shut them down over DDoS concerns somewhere, meaning they were going through a home or office account as a choke point?!

I wonder if we'll ever see a decent post-mortem of this, with detailed information about the proposed architecture, hardware and software, where the servers were hosted etc.

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