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Programming The Internet United States

What Developers Can Learn From Healthcare.gov 267

Posted by Soulskill
from the prepare-for-overwhelming-demand-or-prepare-for-whining dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Soured by his attempt to acquire a quote from healthcare.gov, James Turner compiled a short list of things developers can learn from the experience: 'The first highly visible component of the Affordable Health Care Act launched this week, in the form of the healthcare.gov site. Theoretically, it allows citizens, who live in any of the states that have chosen not to implement their own portal, to get quotes and sign up for coverage. I say theoretically because I've been trying to get a quote out of it since it launched on Tuesday, and I'm still trying. Every time I think I've gotten past the last glitch, a new one shows up further down the line. While it's easy to write it off as yet another example of how the government (under any administration) seems to be incapable of delivering large software projects, there are some specific lessons that developers can take away. 1) Load testing is your friend.'"
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What Developers Can Learn From Healthcare.gov

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  • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday October 04, 2013 @06:41PM (#45040247) Homepage Journal

    No accountability of the contractors, no accountability of those who were to oversee the contractors and no accountability of the people who were to oversee those overseeing the contractors.

    and I was ønce bitten by a møøse nø realli!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      working in the trenches on one of the state projects, it's clear that the main problem was the inability for the state overseers to make up their mind on the most basic of concepts. This cost us huge amounts of time and resources.
    • by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Friday October 04, 2013 @08:28PM (#45040915)
      Having worked in government offices, I can tell you this is the real problem.

      Because there are so many laws about making the government use contractors instead of hiring employees (because private sector is allegedly so much more efficient), damn near everything has to be contracted out. Then the contractors fail to deliver, they go over budget and come in way behind schedule. The government has no choice but to pay them and accept their useless work, again, due to more laws about "helping the private sector".

      There's no way to fire a contractor or even to hold them to their original contract. They agreed to do something for a certain price? Too bad, they're going to sue the government and use those biased laws in order to deliver less than half of what they promised at more than 3 times the price they quoted and agreed to.
      • by DaTrueDave (992134) * on Friday October 04, 2013 @10:10PM (#45041467)

        This is exactly what I have seen over the last couple of decades. Your comments seem to be directed at contracted projects, but I see ongoing federal contracts that hire minimum wage employees to replace skilled federal employees. The costs are more than the costs to hire federal employees and the corporation pockets a nice profit, but the services are substandard. Contractors are supposedly an overall cost savings because if the need for the work moves or disappears, there are no federal employees to move or RIF. The problem is that some of these contracts have been ongoing for decades, and are coming close to the length of a federal employee's entire career!

        Federal contracts do NOT save money, but they do profit the corporations that donate to politicians' political campaigns.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday October 04, 2013 @06:42PM (#45040257)

    Nothing shows up the sheer arbitrariness of a government shutdown than some sites like Healthcare.gov being up, and others being forced to shut down at extra expense when they could have just been left running (and the servers that are there just to tell you the site is shut down are still consuming power and bandwidth).

    • by tepples (727027) <tepples@gmaiBLUEl.com minus berry> on Friday October 04, 2013 @07:02PM (#45040381) Homepage Journal
      I thought the consensus from the last story about the shutdown was that the web sites were closed because a server that's turned off is less likely to get 0wn3d without anyone there to fix it.
      • That would explain a closed website.
        It does nothing to explain websites that were left on and serving a "shutdown" page, in some cases, using a redirect such that the actual page loads before sending you to the block page.

        It is more directly comparable to Wikipedia's SOPA protest in function.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Monument_Syndrome [wikipedia.org] has been brought up a few times.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's up because they had a separately authorized source of funds.

      Remember we haven't hit the debt limit yet, we hit the government budget limit.

      • by Sarten-X (1102295)

        Also remember that we hit a time limit. October 1st is just the start of the fiscal year, and the shutdown is just waiting for direction on how the next year is going to run.

    • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday October 04, 2013 @07:16PM (#45040447) Homepage Journal

      Nothing shows up the sheer arbitrariness of a government shutdown than some sites like Healthcare.gov being up, and others being forced to shut down at extra expense when they could have just been left running (and the servers that are there just to tell you the site is shut down are still consuming power and bandwidth).

      One more time, because some people clearly haven't read it or heard it: The Affordable Healthcare Act is not affected because it was fully funded. The budget Continuing Resolution is for things which are not already funded.

      • The Affordable Healthcare Act is not affected because it was fully funded. The budget Continuing Resolution is for things which are not already funded.

        And? Sites that require no funds to keep open because they are just sitting there 24x7 are being closed down. Privately funded areas around national parks, that are fully funded and privately owned, are being told they must shut down also.

        Perhaps YOU have not heard or read it, but the federal government is shutting down everything it can, even if it's alrea

    • Nothing shows up the sheer arbitrariness of a government shutdown than some sites like Healthcare.gov being up, and others being forced to shut down at extra expense when they could have just been left running (and the servers that are there just to tell you the site is shut down are still consuming power and bandwidth).

      Apparently nearly every government agency under the sun has taken to sabotaging their sites to I assume make a statement about how much not getting paid sucks.

      While I understand it is still childish and offensive to taxpayers. I would respect an agency if their site and servers were actually shut down or if they left a message saying sorry content may not be up to date... very few I know anything about are actually doing that.

  • Blame Canada? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cold fjord (826450) on Friday October 04, 2013 @06:44PM (#45040281)

    Canadian firm hired to build troubled Obamacare exchanges [washingtonexaminer.com]

    A Canadian tech firm that has provided service to that country's single-payer health care system is behind the glitch-ridden United States national health care exchange site healthcare.gov.

    CGI Federal is a subsidiary of Montreal-based CGI Group. With offices in Fairfax, Va., the subsidiary has been a darling of the Obama administration, which since 2009 has bestowed it with $1.4 billion in federal contracts, according to USAspending.gov.

    The "CGI" in the parent company's name stands for "Conseillers en Gestion et Informatique" in French, which roughly translates to "Information Systems and Management Consultants." However, the firm offers another translation: "Consultants to Government and Industry."

    The company is deeply embedded in Canada’s single-payer system. CGI has provided IT services to the Canadian Ministries of Health in Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Saskatchewan, as well as to the national health provider, Health Canada, according to CGI's Canadian website.

    • by Stoutlimb (143245)

      It's a Quebec company... they're fucked. It's like hiring a "European" company which just happens to be run out of Sicily. They're so stupidly corrupt there, that I can honestly say they deserved it.

    • by quantaman (517394)

      According to the article the project has been behind schedule for a while:

      Earlier this year the U.S. Government Accountability Office criticized the pace of development and testing for Healthcare.gov.'s IT system and noted that it was missing important milestone deadlines.

      This is worrying as it suggests this isn't the case of a few glitches and poor load testing, the project might simply not be done.

      In defence of CGI (since I'm Canadian and will reflexively look for excuses for my cultural brethren) it's no

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Friday October 04, 2013 @06:45PM (#45040291) Journal
    Here's the quote from the article that I consider key:

    The biggest takeaway though, is that the way that the federal government bids out software is fundamentally broken. There are clearly companies in the industry who understand exactly the kind of problems that healthcare.gov needed to address. Intuit’s online TurboTax is much more complicated than the sign-up process for healthcare, and it works under heavy load. Amazon and Google both handle crushing loads gracefully as well. Why can’t the government draw on this kind of expertise when designing a site as critical to the public as healthcare.gov, rather than farming it out to the lowest bidder?

    Although it's not entirely right.....government contracts are more complicated than 'going to the lowest bidder.'

    • by g01d4 (888748)
      While the contracts may be more complicated you've got to wonder whether the right incentives are built in. Perhaps the gov't could have tied payment (or penalty) to certain post delivery metrics such as average time to sign up. What are the incentives that make e.g. Amazon, Google and Facebook software deliver a better user experience and how can they be incorporated into the contract?
      • by Sarten-X (1102295)

        Government contracts typically come with a large list of requirements (on the order of 500 pages), almost entirely written by a committee with no idea what they're actually looking for. They'll require silly things like "must weigh over 1750 pounds" or "[a Windows XP system] must be accessible via VT-100 terminal", or my personal favorite, "all components [including electronics] must be manufactured in the United States or France".

        I'm told, though I haven't seen it myself, that the requirements aren't actua

      • by stenvar (2789879)

        What are the incentives that make e.g. Amazon, Google and Facebook software deliver a better user experience

        Management knows they go out of business if they don't. But more importantly, it's not just a question of incentives, it's that the many companies that have tried to compete with Amazon, Google, and Facebook and provided a worse user experience have actually gone out of business. We're left with the better experiences because those are the only ones that survived.

        and how can they be incorporated into

    • by Obfuscant (592200)

      Intuit's online TurboTax is much more complicated ..

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it Intuit's TurboTax that scribbled data into some of the first 63 sectors of the user's hard drive as a primitive means of DRM? Yes [slashdot.org], I did remember correctly. They're also the company that runs my credit union's web presence and have arbitrarily decided what characters a valid email address can contain -- in violation of the RFC. Certainly, let's have Intuit do the website for people who need health insurance and must buy it or face penalties.

    • by hondo77 (324058)

      Intuit's online TurboTax is much more complicated than the sign-up process for healthcare, and it works under heavy load.

      To be fair, TurboTax didn't always work well under heavy load. It has evolved over the years so now it works just fine. Something to keep in mind.

      • by DaHat (247651)

        To be fair, TurboTax didn't always work well under heavy load. It has evolved over the years so now it works just fine. Something to keep in mind.

        So... because it took a while for TurboTax to reach the level of stability they have today... we should just accept the feds incompetence in this area?

        I would think what should be kept in mind is those who built & run healthcare.gov seemingly never bothered to reach out to companies & organizations which run massive data systems that can handle heavy load

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday October 04, 2013 @06:47PM (#45040299)

    From the list, one of the items casually mentions that usernames require numbers. What? I've never heard of a requirement like that from any other consumer system, ever.. they may suggest it (like YourName024 when a prior user has already used YourName) but do not require it.

    If they worry about uniqueness, just use email addresses as logins.

    • If they worry about uniqueness, just use email addresses as logins.

      That's exploitable when you leave your ISP, someone else claims your username at that ISP, and your old ISP-provided e-mail address now points to another person.

    • by BoberFett (127537)

      I've seen that requirement from banks, and a gym of all places.

      • I think it does make sense. Considering there are going to be millions of people on this, there will be thousands of duplicate names. So rather than let the first person with a particular name, for example 'Tony Martin', take the username of 'tonymartin', make all of the Tony Martins have a number in their name.

        Later when the tenth Tony Martin who signed up calls for info about his account, and they ask for his user name, he can't just say it's 'tonymartin', and get someone else's information.* He could say

  • If you can get it, get a government contract to implement some huge IT system; you can have cost overruns up the wazoo, miss your deadlines, and create unusable interfaces; there will likely be few consequences, the customers can't run away from you, and the pockets of the government are infinitely deep to cover whatever you want.

    If you can't get in on such a boondoggle as a vendor, vote against any kind of politician who promises to solve problems with some huge, government-paid IT system; they rarely are

  • "Load testing is your friend."

    In this case, any testing at all would have been friends to both developers and customers.

  • by cirby (2599) on Friday October 04, 2013 @06:59PM (#45040361)

    "Launch" suggests that it actually, you know, worked.

    When a quarter million people hit a game company's servers and only half of them get to play, it's a disaster of unrivaled proportions.

    When millions of people hit billions of dollars in government investment and a few thousand of them actually get the site to work at all, it's a "learning experience."

  • by Above (100351) on Friday October 04, 2013 @07:13PM (#45040431)

    GTA V? Sim City? Final Fantasy? Battlefield?

    Turns out millions of users who start using something on the same day often don't follow the expected and tested for behavior.

    Anyone who launches a service like this should expect to spend the first week in triage mode, and the first month making adjustments. I'd like to say proper planning would mean that never occurs, but the only way to insure that would be to spend 10x what is really needed. People would hate the government even worse if they did that.

    This is not news, yet. It will be news in a month if it is still fubared.

  • The Washington State's exchange website, for which the state paid $54 million to Delloite LLC, hasn't been a rollicking success either. I'm trying to wrap my head around why it costs $54 million to set up a pretty straight-forward website (costs evidently do not include hardware, just people/time/software). I believe that cost was over half what the state received from the feds to set up the exchange. Details here (such as they are) [bizjournals.com].

    • by Cytotoxic (245301)

      I'm going to guess that the lion's share of that money went to requirements gathering. A site like this which has to pull in data from dozens of different companies is going to have a lot of stakeholders. The consulting time for analysts and PM's to compile all of the user stories must have been immense. The actual development on the website itself doesn't look like it could have consumed more than a couple of million. That being said, my team developed about a dozen sites per year of comparable complex

  • When your boss says you're going to launch on October 3 no matter what, you get whatever you've got.

    I've occasionally (thankfully not often) had to turn out things I'm not proud of for customers who have no idea how to schedule and won't hear otherwise. Stuff like the front end/back end error handling is high up the chopping block.

    • by DaHat (247651)

      I guess my boss & I are better at planning than 'your boss'... as we'll work together to scope out what sort of work is realistic in a given time frame... do that, and then re-evaluate... and do this multiple times during a dev/release cycle.

      By the end not everything we wanted may be in the box, but it works.

      Though not being able to get this whole mess right after 3 years another sign of their poor planning.

  • by quietwalker (969769) <pdughi@gmail.com> on Friday October 04, 2013 @07:32PM (#45040565)

    I've got a personal gripe about folks who think that 'developer' is code for 'guy who's expected to do everything in the project'. Outside of small projects, that's not how it should work in a healthy software development lifecycle.

    Developers architect and write code, and some of the topics covered in that short editorial are relevant; use of AJAX necessitates good error handling on the front end, and synchronization of client and server side validations. Sure, they may have a broad skillset besides and understand databases, and graphical design, and so on, but there's no guarantee they're the ones meant to provide those skills.

    For example, QA encompasses an incredibly large set of skills, familiarity with a wide range of products, and to be fair, seems to attract folks with a different life philosophy than those who identify themselves as developers. To talk about load testing - which itself is not a simple unit test to be added to a build - as a developer's responsibility, and ignore the vast, separate set of specialized knowledge and experience required to pull it off is ignorance. To include UX and UI design, and say these too are in the developers purview is equally misguided. (in fact, most developers are really, really bad at UI/UX, for some reason)

    Not that a developer couldn't do those things, or will automatically lack the knowledge or skills, but those are separate roles and separate disciplines.

    So, tell a project manager that they should make sure the QA team does load testing, and tell the project manager that the UI/UX team needs to provide descriptive error messages when validation fails, and so on. Very little of this is important to someone who's currently wearing the 'developer' hat.

  • by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Friday October 04, 2013 @07:34PM (#45040573)
    The devs are in a pretty interesting situation that you don't see too often.. They're tasked with developing an application that generally can anticipate a low load level, except for one (and only one) extreme peak load. Do you develop for the general case, or the (very important) exception? Remember that the difference between these two options would make a difference in the basic structure of the app. Do you use a traditional RDBMS (perfect for the low load case), or some sort of no-SQL system (possibly necessary for the peak load case)? Remember that you can't leverage any commercial cloud resources either -- these are government records, and there are laws saying they'll have to be housed on government computers.
  • by RJFerret (1279530) on Friday October 04, 2013 @07:35PM (#45040585) Homepage

    Odd, in my state it worked fine...no, wait a minute, it's only Oct. 4th, who in their right mind with technical savvy or experience would access such a new product in the first week of it's availability?

    I live in one of the most population dense states. My current health insurance is paid up through the end of the month. I won't be accessing the exchange for three weeks yet because everything in the article is obvious, but even if implemented within the time constraints to the best of their ability, will still probably have issues in the first few days.

    Duh.

    • by Obfuscant (592200)

      My current health insurance is paid up through the end of the month. I won't be accessing the exchange for three weeks yet ...

      You better send of a couple more payments to your current insurance company. ACA coverage through the exchanges doesn't start until 1 Jan 2014.

  • Stupid design (Score:4, Informative)

    by seyfarth (323827) on Friday October 04, 2013 @07:38PM (#45040603) Homepage
    I didn't make it very deep into the web site. I was mainly interested in reviewing the rates for my county. What a surprise that there was a list with all the states's counties together! I was expecting to fill in my zip code possibly or enter the state and county to get a list of available policies. The resulting table was large enough to generate bandwidth problems. One stupid error in design could saturate their network! A good design would be easier on the users, the network and the servers. Now sometimes you have to trade server time and convenience for user time and convenience, but this was apparently not thought through. Surely someone in the government must realize that good design works better than bad design. If a web site is to be used by millions, it obviously needs a good design.
  • architecture (Score:3, Interesting)

    by worldthinker (536300) on Friday October 04, 2013 @07:44PM (#45040635)

    Did a little sleuthing and discovered they're using an F5 load balancer in front of it (at least my state exchange is). I'm rather shocked that they chose a classical client/server architecture and not say, a cloud architecture for this. This could have been written on Google's cloud or Amazon's or OpenStack even and probably done a much better job of handling this load.

    I would surmise that HIPPA requirements may have made cloud architecture problematic.

    • by Above (100351)

      I've seen several people say "the cloud is the answer". I have one simple counter example:

      Reddit. Any time they have a flash mob, and seemingly randomly almost every day they fail.

      The clould does some things better and some things worse, and scales in different ways than a more traditional layout. Both can work if properly implemented, and one or the other may be faster/cheaper/better depending on specific site requirements.

  • I checked out California's exchange web site and it's running fast. No problem registering or logging in and it's well designed to let you see your options.
    California is a state which is completely in control of the Democrats. We don't have the tea baggers who are trying to destroy government here. (I think there are a few but we ignore them and they are powerless.) Government (and most other things) work better here.

    • I'd Believe You... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by glennrrr (592457) on Saturday October 05, 2013 @12:32AM (#45042133)
      ...if I hadn't once lived in California and now live in a state with a functional state government. If you think Cali has anything but a horribly dysfunctional government with bottom of the barrel public schools, badly maintained roads, ridiculously high taxes (income, sales...) and unfair and arbitrary justice system, well, I think your standards are low.
  • It is worth noting that a raspberry pie computer could handle the work load of all the requests for healthcare.gov with correct load balancing and queuing. For PR you would need to set some expectation such as estimated wait time to get into the system, however your customer base would at least know that the system is working and that they just need to wait their turn due to the high demand. It is incorrect for most systems to be architected to assume everyone who accesses your system gets helped right away

    • by shuz (706678)

      Admittedly Raspberry Pi as an example is a bit extreme for this workload. But for fun, think about this. 3byte session token is ~16.7 million 4 billion if you go 4byte. The Pi has 512MB of memory. 16.7 million bytes is about 50MB. So lets say you load embedded linux, a small web server, and support tools hmm 32MB. Think you web developers out there could write a website in perl, c, or c++ with only 430 MB of memory? You couldn't get too crazy with images, but I think someone out there could do it.

      But what a

      • by Obfuscant (592200)

        16.7 million bytes is about 50MB.

        I vote we hire you as the government website author. You've proven an ability to inflate simple numbers by a factor of three, which is about a factor of six less than current contractors usually do.

        You can architect the system to server only one person at a time.

        So if there are just 1 million people who need to sign up for insurance and they take ten minutes each to review the material and decide, that means you'd have all of them "servered" in just 19 years. The CT website that had 100,000 visitors in the first day would have had all of them dealt with by sometime in

  • Have Patience (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BenSchuarmer (922752) on Friday October 04, 2013 @07:45PM (#45040645)

    If a web site is rushed into place on October 1st but there's no reason to sign up until January 1st, wait several weeks before you try use it.

    It's not slashdot. There's no advantage to getting FIRST POST!!!

    • by Obfuscant (592200)

      If a web site is rushed into place on October 1st but there's no reason to sign up until January 1st,

      Well, if you want to avoid a fine for not having insurance and you want to use the exchange, you need to have signed up by December 15. That would be a good reason not to wait until Jan 1.

    • by Pretzalzz (577309)

      You need to sign up by December 15th to get coverage January 1st. But your general point still stands.

    • by DaHat (247651)

      If a web site is rushed into place on October 1st but there's no reason to sign up until January 1st, wait several weeks before you try use it.

      Yet that's not what we hear when it comes to early voting.

      At the State of the Union this year, Desiline Victor, 102, of Miami was a guest of Michelle Obama in the balcony... and during his speech the President highlighted the fact that she waited in line for 3 hours to vote.

      What you didn't hear was that she showed up to vote on the first day of early voting in her ar

  • Oregon paid millions to Oracle for their own solution. It was a disaster. It did not work for me as I kept getting errors. And Oregon actually opted for a simple solution where you could not actually sign up for a plan online. You only received information about available plans. 3 years and millions of dollars later, they could not make that work reliably. As a developer I am baffled.

    • by Obfuscant (592200)

      And Oregon actually opted for a simple solution where you could not actually sign up for a plan online.

      No, that's not what we opted for. The exchange is supposed to allow people to sign up, but since the site wasn't completed and couldn't provide information on the prices based on income, they disabled the ability to sign up and have made it "coming soon".

    • by DaHat (247651)

      In defense of Oracle... Oregon is a state where you cannot be trusted to fuel up your own vehicle... so why do you think they'd let you buy something as important as government mandated health insurance online?

  • Everyone goes on the assumption that scale is "just make it bigger". I'd like to add some of my own notes on why this launch was doomed from the start.

    I used to work for an adult internet company who had massive traffic. We were serving millions of people daily before 2000. We would exceed 10M daily viewers about once a week. That fluctuated by rather consistent calendar influences, like the day of the week, part of the month, and part of the year. Sept 11, 2011 dropped 3/4 of our traffic for almost exactly 2 hours. So we knew how long huge news event would impact us.

    To handle 10M customers without a hiccup, we had to consider a lot of things. We didn't do much dynamic content. That's a killer. There were some elements that had to be dynamic, such as the voting/polling systems, message forums, etc. Otherwise, we had to try to keep the pages (html and images) as light as possible.

    The hardest abused system we had was user authentication and authorization. We only had a few million users that hit it, but there were thousands of hackers (and script kiddies) that wanted to try to get something for nothing. Come on, it was cheap porn, just pay for it. We could easily see over 10M auth requests per hour. In time, we fine tuned the system, and outright blocked abusive users at the firewall.

    The advantage we had was, when I was first in control over the IT work, we'd only see about 1M/day, so we had the luxury of growing it out. We'd watch for the problematic parts, and fix them. What works on your test bed where 10,000 users try it, even if they try hard, it doesn't mean you can put it on 100 servers and expect it to work for 1M users.

    healthcare.gov has some other severe disadvantages. From what I understand, they are hitting the SSA database. I don't know if that's an online query to the SSA, or if they're provided a static file to import periodically. I'd assume all kinds of government organizations have put their 2 cents in too. What are they checking identity against? Drivers licenses, SS cards, voter ID, green cards? That means they could be hitting 151+ more databases run by other organizations. Does DHS get the information? Is it fed back to them when a users accesses? Are the checked against law enforcement databases? Only those directly involved in the development will know. You can disregard anything in the privacy statements. You're not going to see a friendly note in the FAQ "If you're a wanted felon, information will be transmitted to the law enforcement organization looking for you." That kind of defeats the purpose.

    Depending on load testing never replicates what real users will do. Real users do weird things, just because they can. No amount of planning and testing will give you everything. There is always a lot of reactive work to be done. Shit, everyone reads the FAQ 14 times before logging in? They 20% of the people go through the login screens, back out to the 2nd page, and try again?

    I'm stuck on the same non-functional healthcare.gov site as everyone else is. I signed up. I never got an email confirmation or email address verification.

    My girlfriend got the verification and signed up again. I was able to present my user:pass and it did seem to say it was valid, but stayed there until I was thrown the overloaded message. Later, it said my user:pass was invalid. Is it really invalid?

    I tried to do the username and password recovery. Neither sent me anything, so I assumed my account wasn't made. When signing up again, it said my combination of email, username, and real name was not unique. Ok, so I'm at least partly there.

    I signed up again with a different username. This time I received the email verification, and clicking it did say I was confirmed to be a user. I still can't get in. It says my user:pass is wrong. Is there som

  • The solution so far has been to put people into a queue, something that would get a site like Amazon laughed out of the marketplace. "I'm sorry, we're a little busy right now, try shopping later?!!"

    This was a strange comparison. Amazon often loads very slow for me, and pages fail to load completely on a regular basis.

    irs.gov used to be a good example of a fast site. It is not as fast as it used to be, but still about 3x faster than Amazon, probably due to a static design with few images.

  • I've been trying to get New Hampshire information (should be simple because we only have one provider in the exchange). Being self-employed I have mediocre individual insurance, but would like to see if ObamaCare* is better and compare costs. Hints in the local news indicate that costs are pretty good but their network has a limited set of hospitals and doctors, so I'd like to get information in order to figure out whether I even want to sign up or try to keep what I have.

    Tuesday I did the signup process,

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