The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog is bad, but the Times should know better

I am agog at a bald impossibility in the New York Times' article today about the ACA exchange:

According to one specialist, the Web site contains about 500 million lines of software code. By comparison, a large bank’s computer system is typically about one-fifth that size.

There were three reporters in the byline, they have the entire Times infrastructure at their disposal, and still they have an unattributed "expert" opinion that the codebase is 33 times larger than Linux. 500 MLOC? Why not just say "500 gazillion?" It's a total Dr. Evil moment.

Put in other terms: it's like someone describing a large construction project—a 20-story office building, say—as having 500 million rivets in it. A moment's thought would tell you that the mass of 500 million rivets would approach the steel output of South Korea for last month.

The second sentence is nonsense also. "A large bank's computer system?" Large banks have thousands of computer systems; which one did you mean? Back to my example: it's like comparing the 500-million-rivet office building to "a large bank's headquarters."

I wouldn't be so out of my head about this if it weren't the Times. But if they can't get this right, what hope does any non-technical person have of understanding the problem?

One last thing. We, the people of the United States, paid for this software. HHS needs to disclose the source code of this monster. Maybe if they open-sourced the thing, they could fix it faster.

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