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Ask HN: Who wrote Orca?
14 points by VonGuard 607 days ago | comments
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.


kefs 607 days ago | link

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

http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/11/inside...

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VonGuard 606 days ago | link

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

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_delirium 607 days ago | link

> 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.

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VonGuard 606 days ago | link

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.

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squidsoup 606 days ago | link

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.

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001sky 606 days ago | link

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?

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gruseom 607 days ago | link

Most enterprise software projects sabotage themselves.

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activepeanut 607 days ago | link

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlon%27s_razor

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

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Knacker_Hughes 607 days ago | link

Malice and stupidity aren't mutually exclusive.

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001sky 607 days ago | link

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".

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damian2000 607 days ago | link

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.

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VonGuard 607 days ago | link

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?!

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rbanffy 607 days ago | link

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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rhizome 607 days ago | link

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

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rbanffy 607 days ago | link

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

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brudgers 607 days ago | link

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.

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