Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Australian Population Census Computer System Problems

I had a call from ABC Radio this morning about the ABS announcing they had suffered denial of service attacks from overseas.  Perhaps the ABS staff need to go down to the foyer of their building and break the glass on the display case, with the punch card machine in it. I used a machine like that thirty years ago to write programs for the Census and it worked fine. ;-)

But seriously,  keep in mind this is not a safety critical system: no lives are endangered. People can fill it in tomorrow, or the day after, or get a paper form. But the minister needs to be asked if sufficient resources were given to the ABS and were they allowed to use their preferred method of data collection, which would be surveys, not a census.

At 9:50pm Census night I tried the ABS site at 10pm and still got:
"Thank you for participating in the Census. The system is very busy at the moment. Please wait for 15 minutes before trying again. Your patience and cooperation are appreciated. [code 9]"
The Census error message web page is 117 Kbytes, with 49 Kbytes of Javascript and 52 Kbytes of CSS, which seems a bit much just to display a few hundred characters of error message. But presumably this code is cached and reused throughout (in which case, it is not too large). The CSS uses Pure v0.5.0

ps: My comments on the 2006 eCensus.

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