Friday, October 25, 2013

The Importance of 2 + ε Dimensions: Flat is the Name of the Game

In a 2010 email, I wrote the following about Steve Jobs:
Sent: Mon, May 31, 2010 5:02:32 PM
Subject: Why Jobs has been vindicated on quality

Observation: Jobs has finally been vindicated on his stand over high quality (and premium price, although not as premium as it used to be). Why?

Theory: Jobs has made the computer 2-dimensional.

Data: From the earliest days of the Mac, Jobs preached quality (there's even a video clip with him slagging Gates for failing to understood quality). For 2 decades Jobs was proven wrong, in the sense that customers were not willing to pay a premium for quality, so Apple never garnered more than 4-5% of the PC market.

Monday, October 21, 2013

What happened at

On Oct. 6th Federal officials admitted the online marketplace needed design changes, as well as more server capacity to improve efficiency on the federally run exchange that serves 36 states. More details in this WSJ article.

And finally, from the PR horse's mouth on Oct 20th:

"Initially, we implemented a virtual 'waiting room,' but many found this experience to be confusing. We continued to add more capacity in order to meet demand and execute software fixes to address the sign up and log in issues, stabilizing those parts of the service and allowing us to remove the virtual 'waiting room.' "
Quite apart from the bizarre architectural description, a "virtual waiting room" implies a buffer or buffers where pending requests must wait for service because the necessary resources to complete those requests are not available due to being either busy or failed. A certain amount of waiting time can be tolerated by users (both applicants and providers) but if it becomes too long or simply fails to complete, that kind of poor performance points to grossly under-scaled capacity in the original design.