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Beta software is ... "fully operational"?

 
Saloon Keeper
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The Brits have it tough these days: https://www.theregister.com/2020/09/25/brexit_travel_permits_not_in_beta_yet/

Choice quote:

The transport industry has yet to test the system and, according to reports, a beta version will not be ready until mid-December, with the release version not expected until April, well after the end of the Brexit transition period.

A Cabinet Office official told Bloomberg that beta is a standard labelling practice for a digital service that is fully operational. Experienced IT professionals may contest this definition.



 
Marshal
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Tim Moores wrote:. . . beta is a standard labelling practice for a digital service that is fully operational. . . .

That is absolutely correct . . . for some software companies.

Joking apart,
there are commercial websites etc., which have to work because otherwise the punters will go to the competitor's website.
There are government websites etc., which the punters have to get to work because there isn't a competitor's website to go to.
 
Bartender
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Time to start "stocking up"

Worked on a few government projects when a politician has stood up and made an unrealistic, untimely, misinformed, and unwanted promise   .  It then becomes a "death march" at the supplier company.  Almost an ironic parody or the Phoenix Project

 
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Campbell Ritchie wrote:
There are government websites etc., which the punters have to get to work because there isn't a competitor's website to go to.



That's what the government wants us to believe but there are competitors and they will try to use this opportunity to get a slice of the cake I think...

Anyway, did you see the website of Seaborne Freight which the government signed the contract with some time ago? It looked like it was made by somebody who learned a bit of HTML in the 90s, it was just a static page but it looked like you could log in there with username and password but it was just an embedded jpeg instead of real text fields, and the terms and conditions were copied from some fast-food delivery company
 
Campbell Ritchie
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Adrian Grabowski wrote:. . . did you see the website of Seaborne Freight . . .? . . .

Yes, but only a few minutes ago on Wayback Machine.
 
Peter Rooke
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I recall Seaborne Freight; "the company had no ships and had never operated any" ( Seaborne Freight Wiki ).

there are competitors

There are a few, but normally the usual suspects, since the supplier company typically has to run the service as well as develop the system.    
 
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Peter Rooke wrote:Almost an ironic parody or the Phoenix Project



When you mentioned the "Phoenix Project" I immediately thought you meant Phoenix pay system. Sadly this is not an ironic parody, it's real life for thousands of Canadian government employees.
 
Peter Rooke
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The extraordinary meltdown was caused by an Excel spreadsheet containing lab results reaching its maximum size, and failing to update. Some 15,841 cases between September 25 and October 2 were not uploaded to the government dashboard.

 [Daily Mail, Oct 5th].    
 
Campbell Ritchie
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So that's why there were hardly any cases on Friday and 13,000 o Saturday?
 
Paul Clapham
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Yes, that's right, I just read that news article. Well, at least Excel isn't beta software so it should be fine.  
 
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PHE were, by all accounts, getting data in from external sources as flat files (which is fine), but then merging them in Excel (xls at that) before transferring them into the main reporting system.
It was that merge that caused the issue as, since each record was multiple rows long, xls could only handle a couple thousand records before simply ignoring the rest.

Hands up how many here have told clients "no, Excel is a rubbish format for transferring data"?
I know I have...
 
Tim Moores
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Just goes to show that Excel is not a database.

Humorous take on it: Excel as a database
 
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