Wednesday Feb 19, 2020
Ep. 065 - Iowa caucus app scandal. When in doubt, blame a developer
Wednesday Feb 19, 2020
Wednesday Feb 19, 2020
Bob & Kevin try to get to the bottom of the Iowa caucus app scandal and share their point of view on app development and development in general. Feel free to ping us on social media with your thoughts on this episode or any of our others - Follow us on twitter at https://twitter.com/bobandkevinshow.
Full transcription from Otter.ai
So breaking news, your fearless leader has been acquitted of all charges Bob, and I will ask you how that makes you feel because I really know how that makes you feel. But it does.
I didn't think we were gonna date our podcasts like this, but that's okay.
That's true. That's true. But we are going to talk about something that did happen recently. But we're gonna expand upon it and look towards the future as we often do. Can you guess what's happening? But before we get into that,
yep. Before we get into that, can we give a shout out or two to we had some social media engagement this week? from a recent episode about space travel to Mars? Shout out to Conrad.
Yes, Conrad. He's probably like, damn you guys when we're gonna do this collaboration thing so I can like fight you mano a mano right on these topics.
Well, it's funny Though because I feel like Yes, we did ask a lot of questions. mostly focused around how, how this all works, you know how you make an engine that can do that trip. But then also, you know, the subspace communications thing. It's great. You can reference Star Trek, but I mean, we don't. That's fantasy, right?
It is. But the best thing about Star Trek is it's like a Venn diagram. It's definitely real, in some cases, believable, and it's definitely fantastical. However, it's not just lasers from spaceships. I mean, I guess they do have lasers, which are very accurate, but they do have a lot of Well, technically, yes, that's possible, but it's completely unreachable by today's standards type stuff.
Right. And it does. Star Trek historically has driven a lot of our current technology on to watch how well I'm going to connect some things together right now. So Last night we were watching. Well, actually the last two nights we've been glued to the TV because we're old folks now. And we watch politically geared television, mostly following the Iowa caucus debacle, which we'll touch upon. But Caroline said to me, she goes, this is like 2020. Why is there such a delay between the asking of the question, and someone answering the question when they're really just from, you know, New York to Iowa? I'm like, still has to go up to the satellite and back down. It's about what a second and a half
No, it well, yet. It's about 500 milliseconds, half second. Doesn't sound like a ton. But
is it a half up and half down or half total?
It's a half total. It's 250 milliseconds up. 250 down.
Wow, it feels like a lot more on those live broadcasts, which is kind of it Yeah,
I saw Biden the other days talking to Seth Stephanopoulos or however you say his name and it was awkward because they just kept stepping on each other and Biden. I think had Like no idea on how to like, Okay, hold on a second
Joe. Shut up. Let the man talk Grandpa Joe, Grandpa Joe doesn't understand
satellite delay. He probably does. But he he definitely didn't handle it. Well, but Anyway, I digress.
So that half millisecond up and down though that's an ideal? Yes, it is circumstances. So it could lag long.
Yeah. So that that's just your transit time, from ground to satellite to back. However, you still have encoders because, you know, in the modern world, we, we take the signal and we change it from analog to digital digital to analog, because that signal that goes all the way out to space is an analog radio wave. And we've got to convert those back into bits on both sides. So there's a little bit of latency there, injected as well. So I mean, yeah, we've got some additional stuff.
So we're learning a lot about the candidates every single day. And there's a lot of technology tied to that, but If I asked you this question, historically speaking, would you say that elections have been very tightly tied to technology? Other than recent history? I don't
I mean, you think about you go into the booth. And for the most part and a lot of locations, you're still actually punching a hole in a piece of paper or, you know, there's there's a printed paper ballot. That's a result of that. I would not consider any of that very high tech.
Yeah, so my earliest memories of going, tagging along to go voting with my parents in the 80s. My earliest memories of voting, you'd walk you go to the school or wherever your voting precinct is, you walk into this thing you draw the curtain behind you. It looked like something it looked like George Booleans analytical machine it just looked like this metal thing and really exactly levers pulley. I don't know how you people voted back then. But apparently, I mean, of course, I was, you know, young child. So this is just my impression of it all. But apparently you did something and it Did something in the outputted like a punch card or something, and I guess that was your boat, and then they threw it on the stack and the next person went in. So that's my earliest memory. And then my, my modern memory and it hasn't really changed. Since I've been able to vote. It's It's like an E ink type screen where you push the button either on the far left or far right, there's like buttons on the left and right. And then when you get to the last page, you push the giant red button, which is now lit up like a Christmas tree. This is pushing this button means your vote counts, you know, you push the button and that's
and then the dot matrix does its thing well,
it feels like you know, like a calculator from the late 90s technology, like you know, like a ti 85 is probably what runs my voting machine like nowadays. So I guess that's because years have the Jogwheel have such things it must be like an innovative voting. Well, we still have the big red button, okay. And we have the left and the right arrows have another not their arrow shaped buttons but then most of my adult voting has had the machine with the jog wheel so that's how you like you know there's a 256 color screen and it moves the highlight oh we have ours is to color it's it's literally like II think so there's no color to it at all but you know what really grinds my gears now that you brought it up you've triggered me Bob what grinds my gears is you can there's buttons in Indiana you can say you can vote straight party lines push this button for all republican push this button for all democrat and then that just bothers me that you don't even have to look I'm just gonna go
over the screen. Yeah, on the first screen we get that option too but it's still like a screen and then in ours is like digital checkboxes I don't know it's pretty lame but it's still not I would not consider high tech in any way shape. I think they should ban those just like select all republican or select Oh democrat I just feel like that's totally disingenuous to the process. Just vote for the team. Well, it's funny that you bring up disingenuous to the process because the caucus the other night, the caucuses the other night in Iowa. I've never caucused personally have you.
I have not cockiest and it's so weird to use that word as a verb. But no, I've never cockiest
apparently I'm going to get a chance to this year because my wife is either making me do that and or phone bank for a candidate coming up very soon. But anyway, I digress. The whole like disrespecting the process or whatever that exact phrase that you used, the fact that you line up in an area publicly, and then there's a chance for you then to persuade your friends and neighbors to join you in your area for the next phase that just feels
feels kind of icky. Like you can bring like a cheesecake and be like, hey, Fred, I know you're in the cheesecake, but hey, I'm into I'm into Bernie What do you think? I'll give you a slice it
they were reporters talking about promising to shovel their neighbor snow for the following year baking them cookies like they've heard all these side conversations so yeah, people try to convince and or bribe each other to, to come stand in the corner with which is so weird is but part of me is like because it's not binding right?
But part of me is like okay, you're trying to persuade people and let's be honest people persuade people all the time with things and whatnot and a private citizen persuading another private citizen is not as lucky as a government official. Who sits on government money person get it being persuaded by a lobbyist for instance.
Okay, fair enough. That's true. Just say
for sure, but yet caucusing. Sounds weird only because I'm using the actual definition of weird which means something other than outside my norm. You know, not that Yeah, weird bad this is outside what I'm used to.
Well, I think we're gonna get to Is it weird bad or is it just bad bad here in a couple minutes, but do you think we should try to set a record and kick this off?
Yeah, let's do it.
All right. So key music, edit that out.
So to add a little context, so the Iowa caucuses recently happened, but it happens every year. So whenever you listen, this pot it it happened. But what happens every four years? Thank you. What happened this time around is at the end of the night. No winner could be declared because
Unknown Speaker 9:35
Bob, technology technology
and a little more context is the results were to be transmitted by a mobile app to the DNC of Iowa, Democratic National Committee of Iowa's headquarters, so they could feed cnn they could feed Fox News, they could feed all the outlets right?
It I don't know what it was that the intent of the app because See, I'm so confused by this because I was watching it live. And while you know, obviously, the news outlets can't be at each one of the 1700 caucus locations, they were at, they picked like some of the high profile ones. And they were five, I was watching the CNN broadcast full disclosure, but there were five locations that they were covering pretty much live. And those locations ranged from, you know, slightly over 100 people at the caucus location to I think one of them was approaching 1000. So like 900, some I think the attendees were, and it's a very analog. caucusing is a very analog event. They literally are counting people in an area. So one of the things that they did differently this time around, is for the first time ever, they were going to share transparently with the viewing public or with America, basically, the first round numbers so you basically pick a candidate And based on the number of people at the location, they pick a viability threshold at 15%. So if there were 100 people at the caucus location, you would have to have 15 members in your caucus group to be viable. If you weren't, if you were underneath that threshold, the people in the non viable groups had to pick a second pick. But then that was it, they were locked in. So the first time ever, they were going to share round one numbers, round two numbers, then, as always, the delegate distribution, which is a whole nother set of fuckery after So,
so the app wasn't meant to integrate directly with CNN but it just you know, it's a means to say okay, I need to transmit numbers to from location A to location B, location being DNC headquarters to it, then the CNN of the world could then get tallies of all the precincts
right, but in the olden days, people would call And I'm assuming or if they were close enough to the central repository, they would just drive their ballots there. Because there are cards that for each individual preference. And they would still report those, like one of the things mentioned over and over on the night of the caucus, which was just a few nights ago, that, you know, historically will last for you know, at 2016. At this time, we were 80% reported already. And that was the good old fashioned way with paper. So,
you know, I get the intent of, hey, it's it's the year 2020 let's let's find some slick technological way to make it easier because driving your your paper ballots there takes time. Sending a spreadsheet through email seems arcane. It just seems like you know, a lot of like, on the surface, hey, this is a great idea. But
those wait before you get to your buck, can I ask you a simple question? Did you hear about this app? Before the day of the course not, I did not. Okay. I didn't either. I just wanted to make sure that I was either a part of the uninformed masses or be just an idiot. So it sounds like not many people knew about this app Well, up until the day of But should we
have? I think the answer is also no. I mean, this isn't one of those things that we should just be like, Hey, did you hear about Iowa? They're, they're running this new app. Let's see how it goes and do an elbow jab and somebody's rib, you know, I don't know.
Yeah. But as a fast forward, though, when things are going in the shitter. And then all of a sudden you hear somebody say, oh, there was this app that we are really worried about. And we think, because early on, it was like, well, maybe that's what caused it. Just like casual maybe it was the app that was causing the problem. So to inform the lay listener here, what had happened was
apparently, not much because the there was a friction. There was a lot of friction between the precinct people trying to transmit Through this app to headquarters, and I was seeing some of the error messages, you know, basically couldn't connect or so there was some problem.
And look, did you see that XYZ protocol one? Yeah. I'm
not. I'm not sure if that was like a placeholder, hey, you're using the wrong
know that looked like a screengrab?
Well, it did. But I think it was a generic error message, hey, the protocol you're trying to use such as XYZ, blah, blah, blah. I don't think it was the actual literal one, like leaving foo, and bar code like I've done before, but I'm just saying, I hope that it was a generic label, but I was like, Well, fuck, that's not going to work. So there's no such thing as XYZ protocol. This app was created by a company called shadow Inc. And that is its own laughable thing. Wait a second. You tell me their shady operation and it's called shadow Inc. Okay.
What what government group? I mean, seriously, let's take Technology aside, this is just basic common sense. I'm a government organization who hires a company called shadow Inc. Well,
I made the comment in her channel that Well, it's because sheisty ship com was already taken boots.
And government is just not supposed to be in the same phrase together in the public.
So the app apparently costs 60 grand because my which is lower than my initial guy. I was thinking this was the least a seven digit app just because it's talking to government and put up with government bullshit, you add extra decimals and plays when we know.
Do we know that it was talking to government? Um, wait, it seems like a point to point like, I don't think the government was involved. Well,
it's it was the DNC involved. So primaries are run by political parties. They're actually not run by the government. However, everyone at the DNC and all the candidates are completely associated with the government, right?
Yeah, but we're talking about the same DNC that's had servers exposed to the outside hacked. pillage. So, I mean, they don't have a great tech track, right?
Total leadership via fail, I'll kind of get into that a little more. I'm gonna get through some of the details of the app and the company. So shadow Inc 60 grand, it used to factor off, which apparently was part of the problem. Hey, I'm all about to factor off. But we'll talk a little bit more about that. That the more shady part of this is that it was a side loaded app. Are you familiar with side loaded apps?
sideload apps or that? Isn't that the protocol that you have to go through when it's not officially in the app store?
Because if you want to get an app on Android, you go to the Play Store, you want an app on? Apple, you're going to get it from the Apple Store, the App Store, and so wait, but
I'm thinking if I wanted to protect something like that, I would totally go the sideload mess right.
I'm glad you brought Because I brought this up yesterday, too, because somebody said like, hey, shouldn't have been a warning flag. Yes and no. Because, Bob, what can I do with code, even if it's compiled?
You can decompile it. So if it's public, that's all right.
So if I have an app that's meant to go to 1700 people, but it's on the Play store where anyone can download or apps or anyone can download it, that possibly opens up a bit of a risk there. Aside from that, Android will take any app, it could be a guest, your number game,
they'll take it. Where Apple, yes, your number game where we steal all your information,
exactly. Where Apple is very stringent on their stuff, good for Apple. But let's say you don't want to go through that bullshit. And you're like, hey, look, there's 1700 people, we're going to use this. So there's different ways to distribute that and I think it's like fairy app or whatever they use, but there's one called hockey puck. So if you do mobile development, and you're like, Hey, Kevin, check this out. Or hey, Baba, can you test this out for me? It's not a In the store or this version is not in the store, you use the side services to get that app onto your phone. So at face value when somebody says, but it was sideload, isn't that shady? Well, yes and no. And I would actually come down on the idea that that's maybe what I would do too. Because,
yeah, unless you do unless you upload it into your own server and had secure distribution, I mean, but that's still a sideload.
It's still a silo, because unless it's coming from the official Google Store, or iOS, it is a sideload, no matter where you get that from, and then to sideload that you got to turn off or turn on, if you will, developer mode. And there's just starting to become barriers to installing
this right. There's a giant general user barrier to entry. But can we can we talk a little bit about like, just the concept of the app in general, because you said 60 grand, and you were a little shocked that it was below your original gas, which, obviously if you say hey, guess how much the government paid for this piece of shit. You're going to say a million dollar. Right? Exactly. That's just, that's just your standard answer. But when you think about what that app actually had to do, so 1700 locations, but each one of those locations was literally only sharing three numbers. First round total, second round total per candidate. So times will say times 10, even though it wasn't 10 candidates, so 30 numbers. Yes. You and I could build that in half day. Yes. So, so 60 grand, still pretty expensive. So Bob,
if you wouldn't mind in the top right. desk drawer, pull out your shiny tinfoil hat because I've got two answers for you.
Dude, I've been wearing that tinfoil hat for
72 hours straight. I've got two answers for you and somebody put it in a tweet and I totally agree it was either gross incompetence, or somebody had an angle here and Angle like, hey, let's let's round this extra Penny and put it in a foreign bank account that went bad. It's like ship, ship ship, you know. So I am of the opinion that it is the former gross incompetence because you're right. All you gotta do is put some numbers in, send it to a server. Oh my god that is like every app ever and that is just like, I mean, we're not talking about threading. We're not talking about graphics.
We're just like, it's literally five lines of code to post something to another flex like
this out, please. I mean, it wasn't hot. So I'm looking at this going. You have one job, but somebody actually tweeted, I think it was the voice of God handle you had na n Yeah, here, whatever.
final number to come job. Oh my. Um, but yeah, so I think it's a combination of both. I think because I'm still wearing tinfoil hat. It was shady shit with gross negligence.
So to finish out the context, so it went completely horrible. We had no winner at the end of the night, which is worst case scenario, you have a sitting,
we still don't have one
for dating ourselves.
They still they could have counted these votes 10 times. Oh,
we have a sitting president, who's the opposition to these candidates laughing his ass off and going motherfuckers thank you for that gift. Thank you. And not that they need a new one. But thank you. All right. So, um, let me start kind of picking this apart. So where was the testing and where's the dry run? Because I think it was obvious based on some of the feedback of the people some people said they had no intention of using it because air quotes sounded too hard, or they waited till the Day of to try to install it to them,
but from what I read The committee chair people are captains or whatever they call it. We're getting emails up until the day of the caucus with updated links for the app, right.
Which goes to show it's like, well, I am By the way, I don't blame developers. And
we'll get to that point, I think, because that's the big combination. But anyway, right. Okay.
So, so some people are like, Oh, fuck, it's too hard. And then other people are like, hey, I've got this three year old or four year old android phone like me, and it just won't load because you know, part of the positive things of going through the apple review or getting it on Google Play as well you can you have a much wider distribution of bugs and whatnot, and hey, this doesn't work. When we report this bug. It just fucking sucks or, or it's great. But if you wait until the last minute and you have 1700 phones that may or may not work, I'm getting Android
song recipe. Candy Cane.
Right or marshmallow. One of the main one like that Android naming is hard, right?
Don't ask me Well, okay.
Okay. Apple named after mountains and shit like that.
Phone Oh, SF Tom crap like that.
And it used to be big cats used to be like Cheetah and lion and like mountain lion or whatever, whatever. Anyway, yes, naming is hard. Okay, so. So clearly they were under some sort of last minute deadline for all we know they got this contract the week before, you know, and here you go. This has got to happen. It's 60 grand. And then they put their developers on the death mark. I feel
like there's a timetable printed out there somewhere. And it's a little bit more liberal than I think what we're giving them credit for.
Maybe they oversold as an agency. Yeah, we'll take that back that never know. Let's do next week. That's it? Well, if we get into a waterfall versus agile, you will almost never have that problem with agile because you've got to show a working product weekly or every two weeks we're waterfall I think you can easily fall in that trap where it's like, oh shit, we've been planning and getting around to it. Our homework is actually due next week. And then you know, this is where you go like find something on the internet, cut and paste rename. Not saying I did that in college. But anyway, I like the internet barely existed back then. It was
called that avalanche development, not waterfall. Oh, nice.
So do you have any other details on the applications development at all?
I'm scanning through, but I mean, no, actually the development of the app itself, other than the price tag and stuff like that. No. It's so simple, though. I mean, it's got to be simple.
So in pop, and politics, everyone loves to point the finger actually, they do the they do the knuckle thing where, you know, I think Clinton started where you can't actually point and then Obama Did it you make this like random thing? It's kinda like a face with that first fingers like kind of push. Exactly. Bob, Bob knows the struggle. So the do knuckle pointing, right? Like cuz you don't think these days where the D. the DNC is basically like, Oh, this is a serious flaw in the app. Yeah.
And but that didn't come out until our three after the coxes. Were all done. Like it was delay, delay, no information, no information delay delay. We're being extra careful. We're going over the results with a fine tooth comb to make sure that they are you know, as legitimate and unquestionable as possible. And then all of a sudden people kept praying. Well, actually, no, that's not even true. People didn't keep praying tweets started surfacing of the chair people captains, the caucus captains saying that they were having trouble with the app. And then obviously some reporters dug into the fact, in then they said there was some inconsistency of the data submitted through the app.
Yes. So there could be so many things. It could be simply Bob the precinct or not Bob. But Fred, the precinct Captain put in the wrong numbers. That's an inconsistent, right. But it has nothing to do no app. It could be that somebody who was looking at the source code told his boss Yeah, I see this bug here. But that wasn't it. But somehow some way that got transmitted up, hey, well, we did find this bug, but that wasn't it, which turned into Oh, they found the major bug. No, you know, over
midnight, eastern time, the night of the caucuses, so.
So it was a huge clusterfuck. And but what was really obvious to me is their contingency plan either didn't exist, or they didn't take it serious.
In the original proposal. I did see this. So in the original proposal, it was the app and the call center. So So they were going to act in tandem to be fallbacks for each other, but also to potentially limit the bandwidth requirement for each. So you could call in, or you could use the app. The I think the committee, the the Iowa democratic committee, opted to not go with the full package. So they ended up only with the app in a severely understaffed call center.
So if you're going to launch an app like that, do you think that's a high visibility app,
but I think the intention was it wasn't going to be high visibility at all. And that was where the oops hat Well,
the curse of the IT industry as a whole. If you're doing your job, it's a non event, because the system is working. The bits are moving. Congratulations,
however, when Google goes down, Boss calls, why can't I google? And that's what happened, right? Why can't I send votes? So it's the curse of of visibility here that I think what got Miss allocated in terms of risk assessment here is, Hey, guys, what happens if this app just totally doesn't work? What if? What if the cell towers go down? What if? I don't know what, what if something, you know, what's the worst case scenario?
All those would have been like pretty legit. But apparently they didn't even test if people could log in.
Right? Which is a bit mind blowing. But somebody pointed out to me at work. Kevin, do you realize what the average precinct workers demographic is? And it's not his words, but my words, but I would characterize them as this. There are people in their 60s or 70s and they are the same people who couldn't set their VCR clocks in the 80s and 90s. And we think Facebook and the internet are the same. Now I did. These are the people working The poll a
lot of younger precinct captains, but I think that those might have been the ones associated with that kind of the younger campaigns. You know, Bernie staffers are usually pretty young and their volunteers are pretty young Mayor Pete very much the same. Elizabeth probably the same as well, but yeah, so But yeah, it's they're they're not tech savvy users for the most part.
No, and I would say the poll workers and the candidates
volunteers are to know the caucusing people are they're truly like the the ones that are the committee captains their volunteer
there. So but are they associate with usually closely
tied to a candidate?
Oh, man, that's news.
coverage. So anyway, coverage from group to route group, like you'd have a committee like a captain, a caucus captain, and he would put he or she would put themselves in a group and they would say we have to call somebody over over to Kenya. Because I'm you know, I'm caucusing for Elizabeth Warren, even though they were a volunteer for the caucus itself that they're all politically involved people so they are tied to candidate. Yeah, I'm sure.
Well, I mean, who who works at polling doesn't have a candidate they like I mean, the reason you're there is because you're into politics right. So therefore you probably have
the politically agnostic yet interested in politics person is going to be very, like very much the exception.
Right. All right. So their contingency plan was okay. The app is shit the bed. We have this hotline, and I was
watching this wolf blitzer. fuck that guy.
Yes. Oh my god. case you haven't seen that. Well, Blitzer is talking to a guy who's on hold with the DNC the hotline. And he's talking He's like, yeah, I'm on hold and this is what we're supposed to do. And I've been on hold forever. And then the lady finally says Hello. Hello. He's like Wolfie, you won't believe it. I'm finally off hold and she's like, hello. And she's like, She's like, Okay, I gotta go. And then she's like, click here, the click on the phone, Caroline,
Unknown Speaker 31:14
she has to call back and get back in line. We're yelling at the TV. We're like, no, she's gonna hang up. She's gonna hang up.
It was amazing TV right there. So. So there's that that was a contingency plan. But how can you not just be like, Okay, if both of these should fail? Or maybe we didn't have enough people in the call center. Guys, can we just send out an email? This wasn't a part of the contingency plan. We have 1700 email addresses, I would think, can we just send out an email says, hey, I've set up a Dropbox. This is the official Dropbox, post some sort of file in here with your tallies, and then we'll we'll just throw them in a spreadsheet together, guys, let's just get that This done. But guess what, Bob, as you alluded to earlier in this frickin episode, it's been a couple days since the goddamn voting
is occurred, and they still haven't figured it out over over 48 hours are actually coming up on 48 hours. And we are 85% reported, I believe is last I saw like just a couple minutes ago,
I mentioned that. I mentioned a scenario that could come up the New Hampshire primary is next week. What is the possibility that we might have new hampshire results officially in before we have Iowa results? Well,
technology aside, these results are going to get contested because of what's happening. So they might not be official, like they might reach 100% you know, like with 100% district reporting, but then somebody who didn't get their number that they wanted, they're gonna cry and they're going to contest it.
Where it means Yo, guys Sorry, because I saw him on. Cuz I saw Joe Biden He's like, well, we'll get more than our fair share of delegates. Dude, go away. I mean, the only reason he's still around is because of the impeachment. In my humble opinion. It's like, ah, he would have gone away but we impeach the guy. Ah, now we have to deal with Biden for a little bit longer.
86% reporting right now. We got 14% left. Okay.
So, I'm gonna ask you some pointy questions.
I love the pointy question segment of the show.
Unknown Speaker 33:41
Two questions from Kevin does Bob so
so shadow Inc, apparently apparently took money or can take money from candidate parties to help for the development of the app. So I guess not just the DNC you know, hired them but they actually have Candidates allegedly or quotes contributing to the development of this app. Do you think there's a conflict of interest if I say I don't want to give $20,000 to shadowing for this talling thing to
know hey, make sure you count them right we have I think we didn't give money to shadow Inc we donated money to acronym dirty Are you familiar with that company after we are
up um let me in on it because I did see the name but they're apparently distancing themselves from shadow
ink so also another oh shit like names are. These names are like hysterical. They're just so fake. So acronym is a nonprofit corporation funded in 2017 by Tara gallons, political strategist. But anyway, they launched shadow ink. So they were the ones collecting the money.
Well, I was actually thinking about this Kevin Then maybe we have a show disclaimer at some point already. Kevin, you've been tasked to create this app the same app that you're going to do it right air quotes, because what is right anymore, right? So you're gonna do it. My first impression might be guys.
Unknown Speaker 35:18
Let's take a
little bit of lesson learned out of this and go maybe we should set up a second company.
I'm just saying because if this goes bad, and we need to rebrand like overnight, we could just get rid of that car.
Right? Right. And the internet is flooded with in this is what I love about the internet. When people see something that might be hinky they screen grab it. And so their screen grabs of you know, acronym walking back their association with with shadow, but then somebody is like, what about this post that used to be on your About Us page.
So what does tinfoil hat say about a candidate contributing to a counting a simple counting tallying app. Do you think there's any chance that they're like, hey, sub adding just one at 1.1? And let's round up if you know what
I'm saying. Let me let me layer even more conspiracy theory on top of that. What if some of those candidates that were maybe sharing a little bit of money with those companies that may have been alphabet named acronym or shadow in nature name shadow? What if those political candidates have special ops background consultant that dealt with behavioral science for a large consulting firm in has some ties to the CIA? What would you think about those?
I would think it would be a great documentary coming to Netflix.
I feel like hashtag Mayor cheats bio that I just read
Unknown Speaker 37:00
Yeah, that was
kind of how Cambridge I see the parallels with Cambridge Analytica, just kind of like this company just kind of out there and you just give them the right amount of money and they make things happen Scott like the fixer from Pulp Fiction. Hey, what do you need? What happened was the body Okay, we'll take care of it. You know, don't worry about it. We got it. So I very much feel is you know, Shadow ink is definitely appropriately named. Ask me.
I'll also layer on some more conspiracy. Pete was the only one who went on TV and declared victory that night there were no results. Guess Guess who's in the lead? So
Mayor P. So Mayor Pete is from the great state of Indiana to wit I am broadcasting from hasn't right now. I will say that I'm not 100% sure he would actually win the state of Indiana at this point. Only because he's very localized to South Bend as far as being, you know, popular obviously being running for president has brought attention to him so we'll see. Oh, don't sugarcoat it.
I'm a little shocked he won't win Indiana because he's gay.
Well, there's definitely that I mean it's
no no Well, I mean to my primary my liberal Indiana friends but my conservative Indiana friends will be like
Unknown Speaker 38:31
yeah, it's this is a tough state because the conservatives definitely wouldn't vote from the general election that but I don't know how it would go in the Democratic primary. You don't you might be right.
I don't think maybe surprise gonna kick in there.
I have never voted in a democratic primary. So I don't even keep track. So I've barely been voted any primaries, because what's the point? Which takes me to my next point? primaries and this, I think this is for all states. They're all run by the DNC, the RNC. And it's really not government sponsored whatsoever, isn't even a real election. I know the general election is a real election, but is the primary an actual real election? You know,
I think it's just a mechanism to try to try to make it look like the people's voices are heard. I don't think it's official in any way, shape or form. I think the Democratic National Committee at any point in time could change the rules for the delegate convention and, you know, put their person up, but also, that's probably a tinfoil hat as well. I don't think there's any. I don't think there's any overarching legislation of how a political organizations candidate is put forward.
So they could at any point, say okay, We're going to have our convention and the only one that can win is if your name rhymes with Bernie Sanders. Raise your hand if your name runs through,
then you're out because that's the whole DNC thing. But, um, let's get back to because I think one of the things that I got the biggest chuckle out of the other day was, you know, when all else fails, blame a developer. And that's been some very interesting chatter online, too. It's like, How in the hell yeah, sure, you could point the finger but the developers not going to be the one to stop. I mean, a rare one could but like, the developer isn't the problem here.
I would hundred percent agree. We talked about this too. In the small group. developers do what they're asked really no more, no less. They do bring up challenges and like, Hey, I know you want that new feature, but I'm still working on this old features kind of buggy and heavily tested this because I don't feel Comfortable right now. And I know where all the bodies are buried, so to speak. So I think the developers just doing their job I really put this on my leadership fail at at shadowing. Firstly, and then secondly, at the DNC. So it's mostly the leaders at shadow Inc. There, hey, you're in charge of this. What is your load testing plan? What is your distribution plan? What is your we're going to be on 1700 phones of which we not sure necessarily what the mix of technology? Are they all apple? Are they all Android or that mix? Somebody's got a fucking Windows Phone out there. You know, what, what is your plan? And if this all goes to shit, have you communicated your risk assessment to the client and be like, Look, we're doing everything we can XYZ. But let's plan for fail because if you don't have a plan, you're if you fail to plan you plan to fail, right? But in the developer circles, I'm very much of the mantra that I plan for failure. What if this when I make this What if that service that I talked to dies? What am I gonna do? Yeah,
but how about that? I'm sorry. It's not ready. I can't. It's not working. Ah,
well, do you really think a dev is hiding behind that going? I can't tell him it's not ready. I don't believe that because most Deb's I know go, No, I just couldn't get to that. Yeah. Or it's buggy.
Or when I experience a dev tells the truth to the project manager and the project manager somehow then doesn't tell the truth to everyone else.
Yeah, you know what the most annoying thing about her is that the most annoying things about developers is they're typically very pragmatic, pessimistic and very honest. And that's not very good for sales. When we're like, No, you want to do what you want when you need that by Are you crazy? And you're right. And then when that gets put through the business filter Now, fortunately, and I Yes, I am. I am. I'm disclaiming here. I don't have that. From where I'm at, we have very good communication. And but I'm not seeing that this happened necessarily shadow ink, but I don't know it shadowing.
Well, yeah. And I'm also very curious to find out like, I haven't seen a body count. Like, you know how many people are actually employed by shadowing? How many developers how big the team was? None of that.
But even if we did know that, I don't know if that would be insightful or not.
Well, I think it would be interesting. Definitely, because right now I feel like it's one guy in his basement who made 60 grand.
Could be Hey, I mean, he took PR hit was
his buddy is the one who lied. The guy in the basement made 20 grand the guy who lied made 40 grand, you know?
Put some I put some of this on the quiet. We've got the saying. Maybe just America, the customer is always right. Well, no, because here's why the customer has to do their own risk assessment to what if this company doesn't deliver? What if they deliver me? Shit on a shingle? What if you know what is our contingency? Has this ever been used before? Do we have a track record of this app just working to have a track record of this company providing services that are reliable, and I would have to say the DNC of Iowa, failed at their own mission? Because an app is just a tool in this situation.
Yeah, but where's that gray line though, where I'm paying for something, the person that I'm buying it from, not the developer, mind you, the person I'm buying it from? The company says, we're good to go. It's packaged people can start downloading it. I mean, if I'm working for the Iowa DNC, and I don't employ any kind of internal technical resources, I have to take that vendor at their word.
So, so yes, you're right. But that goes on your risk assessment, hey, we don't have anyone that can verify these claims. So it's all about risk. And they accept that risk by not hiring somebody not having somebody on staff not not following up, because trust is very important. So Bob, let me let me put you in the hot seat. You are a business owner, and you hired a company to do an app. And then they say it works.
Are you just gonna take it from Well, no, and not distribute it to 1700 users and cross my fingers and you know, hope?
As an educated IT professional yourself, you would probably say, well, let's do some user acceptance testing. Did you make what it is? I asked you to make? Let me Let's do it. Well, okay, great. How many users have you tested this on? Great, what kind of phones How does this work on? Great and if you're, you're naive, and you're like, Well, I know of Android and iOS, and I don't know what questions to ask. I think some of the best advice ever given Ever is to air quotes, hire somebody smarter than you hire somebody who does that, if you don't know, and if you're not comfortable hire somebody who does know. And if you're unwilling to do any of that, why are you willing to spend 60 grand on app that you're just going to accept them based on
the blind is really weird too.
So who knows, maybe there was a bunch of back and forth, maybe with their reassurances. Maybe the DNC had somebody on staff saying, Oh, this is great. Yeah, worked Bible Latin, maybe all that maybe this was just a colossal fail. But I don't really believe that because I, I really believe if you go through all those exercises, and a lot of us don't like to go through those exercises of risk assessments and whatnot. But this is why this is definitely one of those cases where you go, yeah, I'm glad we did or Damn, we should have and this is going to be one of those where you come case studies for a long time.
Let me ask you a question in your research. Did you see any screen grabs that were beyond the failed logins?
Are you saying? So you're saying? Did anyone actually get to Oh, yeah,
I'm curious. I mean, obviously, in a scenario like this, you're not going to hear any, you know, victory tales where, you know, like, Hi, I'm Jane user, and I got logged in and submitted my 15 sets of numbers, and everything was just great. And I was home and in bed by nine o'clock. But you would think if you were getting some balanced reporting, you would see more than just the failed logins. But once again, based on the fact that we're still not fully counted on 1700 locations. I'm going to guess nobody got their data through.
Or if they did, I think it's potential that it's untrusted at this point. And so they may be compounding factors like well, of the Those who did get in, they didn't know how to use it. And it wasn't because of the ATMEGA calculations, because the user had no idea what to put in. So they just put in grandma's cookie recipe. Yeah. And that was,
yeah, we kind of just be like, first authenticate, get logged in. Step. Next, pick candidate from list, Joe Biden. First round, enter number, second round, enter number, third round, enter percentage of delegate votes.
So all of that is user stories. And not every agency goes through the trouble of doing I had another quote that I stole from the internet and it was weeks of coding can save hours of planning. Yeah. And it's I got a good giggle on that one too. Because I think a lot of us used to or I used to go to the code, right? real quick. Oh, you need to say, oh, let me start sketching out.
No, I've been pretty tactile. You know what problem it is. you're solving very tactical in my ears to me
Step one, understand the problem you're actually solving and communicate this reciprocate the problem back in your own words back to the stakeholders and get the get the acknowledgement that yes or no, that's not what we meant, you know. So I think there's huge value in there. And I think, again, this is just so much case study stuff going on there. So in order to give a positive, well, what would you have done Mr. smarty Kevin? Well, I think I would have done a dry run. Hey, everyone needs to login. Hey, Sally, you. You didn't log in the summer day. bloggie logging in, what's the deal? Because it sounded like people literally met the app. The day of
right, that was, I think the earliest that I saw it was over the weekend. Like maybe it was a Friday or Thursday. And then there is another email sent out if you haven't downloaded the app. Over like maybe Saturday or Sunday. And then it was, you know, it was game time it was Monday. So, and I think they sent out an email saying that they needed to read download or something. So there's just a lot of bad planning, no testing. But I guess at the end of the day, my ultimate question is, are well, I think I know the answer this question, as a society as a nation. Are we ready for any kind of electronic, you know, voting or do we have to take it back full circle and stay with the hanging chads and the jog wheels?
So I'm laughing because it's my next bullet point. And it was yet again, another topic that came up. And it's basically the question is, is should this technology have a place in our election system? Does it and will it ever and on face value as a technologist I would say, hell yeah. Why wouldn't you want to automate this bullshit, you know, and then upon further review, I'm like, God, no, no, we need to keep this simple. Yeah. You know, let's, let's just keep it we need an audit trail. We don't need the possibility of getting hacked. We don't need the possibility of somebody you know, you know, an app not working. Can we just have old fashioned easy these pieces of paper? What do you think?
I feel like I'm very much in line with you. I feel like technology. I feel like there's other parts of the world, the world that has embrace technology for their elections. Um, I just, I think we're too big. I think we're too. We're not as technologically advanced as we think we are, especially at the government level. And then when you start to bring private enterprise into it, Allah acronym and shadow Inc. Then you have an extra layer of liability there and I think we probably are. I mean, hell, I'd even go back to the Like putting rocks in a bucket.
We need integrity to be maintained in the system. This week's episode of The IOA app definitely doesn't help integrity at all. And you security like and it's kind of weird. Because to make things more secure on the web, sometimes you have to mitigate things like brute force, you know, well, if I, if I just make it so you can only try to brute force five passwords, then I lock you out, I've made it very difficult for you. Well, the harder I make it to hack the system by creating out of no air gaps, you actually have to create these pieces of paper, not just, you know, for each loop and it you know, it tallies or or just set a number in a system. It's like altering your bank account. You can't just put a million dollars in your bank account, there has to be a check and balance in the whole system. Otherwise, that's going to get flagged, boy, he don't have a million dollars just because you say you know somebody went in the database and change 2 million there has to be the debits and credits the trail
Unknown Speaker 53:02
No, you just oh,
I definitely offer tools you just changed the number in the front end.
Just yeah inspector take a screenshot call customer service or like hey, it says, Now I only have $1 What happened? You owe me answers. So in in Iraq and places like that, do you ever notice what they do after an election? They hold up a finger and you notice what's on their finger? They mark them, right?
Unknown Speaker 53:27
Because that ink is not easy, doesn't easily come off. So it signifies several things. It signifies that you have a church that's your
Unknown Speaker 53:36
and you can't go come back later and vote again. So that's that simple thing will prevent people from voting multiple times. No voting, you know, under different names. Now, I don't know if they like actually take their fingerprint. Yeah, like, hey, put your fingerprint on the person you want to vote for but I think that would be a great idea because it's like, Look, this is my vote. Here's who it's for, and it is very hard to fake. So, again, that's just a simple simple system. And maybe we just need to get simpler instead of more tech. Yeah.
Because I mean, think about this. A, they didn't save a lick of time with this.
Unknown Speaker 54:18
Be who's gonna,
who's gonna be a? Alright? So this is b one and B, two, B, one who's going to be the next company to say, Hey, we won't fuck up like shadow. You know, here's, here's our better mousetrap. And then B to who's going to be the organization that takes the risk to go with an outside vendor to try to do this the right way. Like it's basically set it back probably two to five years. Is what my guess is.
So could could this resistance to technology election speed generational because our current workers are in their 60s and 70s. You know, fast forward When you and I are that age, we've never been alive at a time where our our elderly have had technology as ubiquitous as it is today. So right now the current 60s and 70 year olds, they're like, hey, VCR, that was pretty cool. And PCs, I really haven't gotten into a bucket. I can text that's the newest cool thing I can do, or this Facebook thing or whatever. But when you and I get older, in 2030 years, will have been on the bleeding edge of probably some of the smartest elderly people that have ever existed.
Unknown Speaker 55:32
Our kids are that age and then it's
exactly and and it's just going to outweigh so eventually that word will turn but we're not ready for.
I'm not ready for that kind of price not ready for I don't trust my digital vote. Like I wouldn't trust a digital vote for like if I if I was given a device and said I had to vote electronically. I wouldn't trust that vote.
So I want to bring up the idea of I read an academic paper on Hey, would it be cool if we issued a digital certificate to everyone so very much like an SSL cert to everyone in the country. And so instead of a social security card, you would digitally sign everything with your SSL cert. But you could also vote with it. So to the point where, hey, did my vote actually count? I'm looking at these numbers on the TV, and it says Bernie only got whatever or, or so and so only got whatever, ha, did they actually count my vote and then you'd be able to check the digital register and go Yeah,
there, there is my vote and they are in ties, the ultimate flaw in the entire system. Because you're voting for representative vote, that may or may not align with your actual vote. Meaning, I don't meaning that your candidate could get the popular vote, but the delegates system decides that your vote isn't really as informed as they think it is. And they cast their stone in that other person's bucket, even though you put yours in person ones bucket.
So as cool as a system that I just described sounds, it's actually terrible. And it's terrible, because it's too
well it also sounds a lot like Salafi record to
kinda, you know, that was actually on my list of, hey, maybe we should just put this on the blockchain, solve all our problems and make us breakfast and bucket. Yeah. So I think that the more clever we get with voting, the the worse of an idea it is. We need to keep it simple. And right now I'm not aware of any logistic problems with people voting through with paper or while we've had the hanging chads or disabled, we've had challenges but
Unknown Speaker 57:58
I would take that over a digital problem because, Bob, you want me to really wake up in the morning or if I can get you to really wake up in the morning. You know what I can send you a message Hey, Bob accidentally deleted the production database and we don't have backups. Can you help me out? There's, there's nothing I can do for you.
Nothing, right in this simple fact. So any kind of electronic system we do end up migrating to is still going to have a paper backup, guaranteed.
So one of the last topics I have here, and do you have any more technology stuff, because this is less techie
now? I mean, it's, it might I mean, it was a pretty cut and dried tech thing. I
I had an amazing day with co workers discussion and just the internet in general. The iOS app thing, just to be honest, was kind of a fun topic. I wouldn't say At this point hundred
so, so I want to get that out there. And one of the things that I learned in discussions was something called ranked choice voting. Have you ever heard of such a thing, Bob?
That's the new system that they introduced in Iowa right.
It's similar to caucusing. But it It eliminates the third party spoiler. So back in the day, we had George W. Bush, we had Bill Clinton and H Ross per hour. And so as ross perot stole the republican vote, therefore gave us Bill Clinton as president because he split the vote. If you had ranked choice voting, those who you'd vote for you may rank george bush at one ross perot to Bill Clinton three or not even ranked Bill Clinton or reverse Hey, I just want Bill Clinton I don't care about the other guys. However, it's like a relegation if you came in last. Your votes go to whoever the second that's
kind of the modified system for Iowa with that three rounds are the two rounds.
Right? The main difference, as pointed out to me is it's still anonymous. So you don't you don't hang around for three hours go, oh God, can we just pick somebody? He just say, 123. here's here's my ranked order. And then it just it's instant runoffs is is essentially what it is. And I watched a video on it, maybe I'll get it to you if you're interested. But it was I'm like, why don't we do that? Because our current system obviously favors big political parties. And if you're a third party spoiler like I don't know Gary Johnson that maybe I voted for instead of the other two. And the last you know, I don't get exactly it. I don't get the heat from the losing democrats go. Well, we got Trump because you Kevin, really? Sure. We got our
Yeah. The delegates didn't like Hillary Oh.
Well, I humbly believe a society always gets the politicians it deserves nap though. voted for
that was my head.
Yeah. All right. Uh, wow, we actually eat that. Good. I knew we would. All right, get any final thoughts or comments on the Iowa slash election technology ask
us what we've really been enjoying the interactions on Twitter. It is probably the best way to reach out to us. And it's fun to have these conversations because it kind of helps us set up show content and also helps us reflect on prior shows. So please keep that up. We really appreciate it and I got nothing else. What do you got?
going on vacation I'm going to learn about the technology of Disney because disney world knows how to hurt people very well. electronically and I'm hoping to bend
Bob's ear a little bit about I will contribute very little to that conversation. But I will Enjoy it all the same. So until next time, tune in to the Bob and Kevin show in about a week or so. Talk to you later.
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