definition of glitch

Google for "glitch": 52,900,000 results

| Ever notice that there are some words that you hardly ever hear, maybe for years, and then suddenly the word is everywhere? So is it with "glitch."

When the website was launched, millions of people converged on the website to get affordable, quality healthcare insurance. But wait! The website was, indeed, a "trainwreck," to borrow Sen Ted Cruz's favorite adjective. Someone, probably some PR flack, tried to explain the problems away as "glitches" and away we went. Everybody was talking about glitches, as if this were some technical term that would show that the speaker was a member of the technoratti.

But the problems with the website were anything but "glitches" - a broken link is a glitch; a missing graphic is a glitch; a database query that sorts the results incorrectly is a glitch. All the focus on the website, per se, drew attention away from the fact that on the backend stuff was just plain broken; for example, the insurance companies found that when applications actually made it to their systems the data was garbled. Definitely not a "glitch."

So this morning President Obama went to the Rose Garden to give a little speech about how wonderful the Affordable Care Act really is, apart from and distinct from the website. He was surrounded by individuals and small business owners who had successfully signed up for ACA.

Obama in the Rose Garden promoting the ACA

Obama assured people that the product (the ACA) was good and it would save them money. He acknowedged that the website really sucked on day one (still does, but not as bad). In his typical fashion, he went on, and on, and on. Near the end of his peroration the lady in red behind him began wobbling on her feet, rolling her eyes, and breathing heavily. After she was led off, Obama quipped, "That's what happens when I talk too long." (He really does need to learn to give 10 minute speeches!)


He's right, of course, that the website is just the front-end to a bunch of software behind it that does the actual work. The Department of Health and Human Services hired a bunch of contractors to write the code and reportedly changed the specifications repeatedly and late in the process. It's fair to say that the code is probably what is technically known as "spaghetti." You can follow an individual noodle to its end, but you're going to get sauced.

An article in the NYTimes this morning reported unnamed contractors as saying that there are about 5,000,000 lines of code. That's a lot of spaghetti!

That ACA call center is going to be busy over the next three months!


Last updated on Apr 13, 2018



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