Wednesday, November 5, 2014

President Obama Reaching Out

According to Time, the President called several candidates last night to offer congratulations or condolences, including Senator Scott of South Carolina and Senator-elect Capito of West Virginia, along with other Republicans and Democrats.

I don't know if the list is exhaustive, but I wonder if he called Congresswoman-elect Mia Love? She's the first black Republican woman in Congress. Kind of a milestone. If he hasn't already, I hope the President takes the time to reach out to her.

Added: has he reached out to Elise Stefanik, the youngest woman to serve in Congress?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Early voting and exit polls

For many years news outlets have chosen to not report exit polls until after polls have closed. They don't want to influence late voting turnout. The theory is that voters will stay home if exit poll results show a significant lead for one candidate, even though exit polls are unreliable. The last time the major TV networks used exit polling to call a race was in 2000, when several networks announced Gore had won Florida even though polls would remain open in the western panhandle for eleven more minutes (and of course, Gore would go on to famously lose Florida). The "panhandle problem" caused more than one conservative pundit to accuse the networks of potentially damaging Bush's chances in Florida, since even slightly lower turnout in the Republican-heavy panhandle would have hurt Bush more than Gore. The networks seem to agree with those pundits, and have since held their exit poll reports until after all polls in the state have closed.

In recent years early voting has grown more popular. In Colorado especially voters have been taking advantage of new mail-in voting.

Interestingly, news outlets are not at all reticent when it comes to reporting early results. These early results aren't from exit polls, and they don't show how people actually voted, but they do show the party affiliation (or independence) of all early voters. So for example today AP reports a big lead for Republicans in Colorado's early voting. It seems to me that early voting results have as much potential to undercut turnout as exit poll results, even if early voting results only show party affiliation. Only half of expected Colorado votes have thus far been received. How many voters will forgo voting, believing Republicans have already won?

Early voting reports are too much like exit poll results, there's too much chance of undercutting turnout. As early voting becomes more popular, the problem will get worse. News outlets need to stop reporting them. If they continue, the states need to stop publishing the party affiliation numbers.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How to retrieve an LDAP server's public cert

It's easy with openssl...
openssl s_client -connect <server>:636
...then copy everything between
-----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----
and
-----END CERTIFICATE-----
(including the delimiters) and paste into a text file.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Retrieving external config properties from JNDI, environment shell, and/or system properties.

I need to deploy multiple instances of the same WAR in a single Tomcat instance. I've been reading external config properties from System properties (e.g. System.getProperty('ext.xyz')). That won't work when deploying multiple WAR instances. So I whipped this up to read from JNDI as well as System properties (and I threw in reading from environment vars as well).

Then in Config.groovy, I use it thus...

This way my config file doesn't care where the external property comes from. In dev, I can define it as a system property. In prod, I can define it as a JNDI env var.
For completeness, here's how I'm defining the context xml in Tomcat.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Adding parameters to an existing link

I'm working on a project where the user selects a date and then clicks a link.  The date needs to be added as a parameter to the link's url.  The normal way to do this would be with a form.  But each link would then have to be a submit button.  I don't want them to look like submit buttons.  But I also don't want to restyle them to look like links.  So I set out to find a way to dynamically add the date to each link.

Turns out with jquery it's pretty easy.  Check it out...
Update: okay, another easy way to do this would be to leave the links as links but put the parameters, including the date, in a form, then trap the click event on the link and submit the form. But what's cool about that?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Still No Real Information on healthcare.gov

Walter Russell Mead thinks healthcare.gov will be working more or less well on December 1.  But he doesn't know for sure.  In fact, no one outside of government has any idea how well it will be running.  Why is that?  There must be dozens if not hundreds of technical staff working on this, not to mention all the government bureaucrats involved.  Why hasn't some enterprising journalist published an article with the inside scoop?  There are now less than five days, is the Obama admin that good at preventing leaks?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Closing the Fence Gate after the Horse Has Left

Goldstein and Eilperin have been doing a great job at the Washington Post covering the problems with the ACA.  Yesterday they published another article chronicling the failure of healthcare.gov.  Apparently the lead contractor assured staff at HHS that the site would work, and of course it didn't.  From the article...

CGI staff huddled with government officials in the semicircular conference room at the headquarters of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency overseeing the project. They combed through 15 pages of spreadsheets they had brought, which spelled out the company’s level of confidence — high, medium or low — that individual components would be ready.

By the time HealthCare.gov launched 51/2weeks later, many of those predictions proved wrong, according to internal documents obtained by The Washington Post and officials familiar with the project.

A final “pre-flight checklist” before the Web site’s Oct. 1 opening, compiled a week before by CMS, shows that 41 of 91 separate functions that CGI was responsible for finishing by the launch were still not working.
Here's my question: why is this only coming out now, almost two months after the healthcare.gov launch?  Why weren't reporters digging into these details before the rollout?  They didn't have any sources at HHS, CMS, or CGI?  No one wanted to know what CMS or its lead contractor thought was going to happen on Oct. 1? We're a long way from Woodward and Bernstein here.