back to article Need a US visa, passport? Prepare for misery: Database crash strands thousands

An unspecified glitch in a global database used by the US government to issue passports and travel visas has left countless people around the world unable to travel for the last few days, according to State Department officials. "The Bureau of Consular Affairs has been experiencing technical problems with our passport and visa …

  1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    This would never have happened if they'd just used a proper enterprise database vendor instead of one of those fly by night startups. What were they thinking? Is this what taxes pay for?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      All the skilled people are working on the Obamacare databases ... oh, wait!

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      The project design was pretty wel completed before they discovered that they needed more fields than just "American OR commie pinko terrorist subversive (bool)"

  2. toxicdragon

    Is it me or does everything seem to be suffering from an unspecified glitch lately?

    1. Eddy Ito

      It's an unspecified glitch because pebcac wouldn't be understood by most media types.

      1. MrT

        I'll c u a k...

        ... but my on-screen ceyboard tries to autocorrect it ;-)

        Many media types would qualify as the p - Paul Foot they are not...

        1. Eddy Ito

          Re: I'll c u a k...

          One man's console is another man's keyboard, or at least my komputer tells me so.

          1. Anonymous Coward

            Re: I'll c u a k...

            And the root cause will be

            Computer User - Non-Technical

      2. TkH11

        It's an unspecified glitch because they don't want to embarass themselves by describing the human cockup that was made.

  3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    "The Bureau of Consular Affairs has been experiencing technical problems with our passport and visa system," Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson for the State Department, said in a press briefing on Thursday. "The issue is worldwide, not specific to any particular country."

    If Marie opens her mouth, she is saying something between a half-truth and an outright lie with probability close to 1.

    Though I cannot fathom what she is trying to retruthify here.

    1. RainbowTrout

      ITYM a Harf-truth and outright lie......

      1. MrT

        True enough...

        ... anyway, I thought the problem was very specific to at least one country...

  4. Alistair


    Buffer overflow while creating index on table NO_FLY_ALLOWED

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge


      As it is Oracle, then

      NOFLYLIST - Tablespace extend failed - No Space available...

      would be more appropriate.

      1. Roo

        Re: Nah

        In fairness the Buffer Overflow is quite valid - I found one by compiling their sample code. :)

  5. channel extended

    What a shame.

    It seems that all of the terrorists were unable to fly for a few days.

    NOW thats security!!

  6. William Boyle

    100M records? 75M photos

    In my work experience, this is a medium size Oracle Enterprise DB. Somebody screwed the pooch, and I don't think it was Oracle.

    1. Nate Amsden

      Re: 100M records? 75M photos

      big oracle DB, one company I was at a long time ago their largest OLTP oracle instance at the time I left (I'm sure it grew a bunch after that) was about 60TB. Oracle told them at the time it was by far the largest single OLTP in the world(next biggest was apparently Amazon at well under 10TB for a single instance). It consumed that much space due to bad application design not because they were doing trillions of transactions.

      1. Bloakey1

        Re: 100M records? 75M photos


        " It consumed that much space due to bad application design not because they were doing trillions of transactions."

        I worked on a database like that. The I.T. director liked the salesman and co-opted him into the design process. I ended up with what was allegedly the worlds biggest Progress database cluster. It had sixty databases when it should only have needed 2 or 3.

        My how we laughed. It did run nicely but had the odd glitch and really did not like doing command line dumps etc. All run on NT4 on a DEC Alpha, one of the most stable Windows platforms I have ever seen.

        1. Denarius

          Re: 100M records? 75M photos

          >> All run on NT4 on a DEC Alpha, one of the most stable Windows platforms I have ever seen.

          Run that kit. Was stable but had memory leaks that would embarrass a politician. Was NT4 after all. But I digress. How often in IT do we find that staff who have done studies in the technology, worked competently in it for years are over-ridden by some suit with not a technical clue for non-IT reasons ?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 100M records? 75M photos

      100 million is peanuts granted there will be dozens of child tables will shed loads of related info. Your average financial trading DB will house dozens of tables with in excess of a 500 million records easily. Largest I've seen in Oracle was a financial pricing DB, 3 tables had just tipped the billion mark each.

      Of course like most databases, it's not size that counts it efficiency and fitness for purpose. No good having a DB and then not being able to get stuff out of it in a timely fashion or at all in the US Gov's case at the moment!

  7. SoltanGris

    State Department has canned response ready.

    What difference, at this point, does it make?

    Bugger off.

  8. Donald Becker

    This is what "five nines" of reliability looks like.

    The next time a salesman tries to tell you only the big established players can serve the needs of "enterprise" customers, remember this. Note that the claimed total downtime per century is likely to happen in the first year. And then again in the second year. And so on.

    With the downtime so far, this is "two nines" reliability at best.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      5 nines, but not all at the same time.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    just take the death train

    Don't need no stinkin' visa

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Outsourced support?

    Generally, if you want a proper global IT fu, you really need firms like Accenture and TCS right there with you.

  11. VinceH
    Black Helicopters

    Someone, somewhere agrees that Overpuddle needs to be shut off from the rest of the world, and this is step one in their (ahem) "nefarious" plan.

  12. Bloakey1

    How About Rendition

    Does this mean that extraordinary rendition actions will be halted as it would be illegal to bring Johnny foreigner in without a visa?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How About Rendition

      No, the "renditions" aka kidnappings are illegal anyway, illegal * illegal = legal.

      1. John Tserkezis

        Re: How About Rendition

        "No, the "renditions" aka kidnappings are illegal anyway, illegal * illegal = legal."

        Is this something like "Wrong*2 != Right" but "pow(Wrong,2) = Right" ?

      2. Bloakey1

        Re: How About Rendition

        "No, the "renditions" aka kidnappings are illegal anyway, illegal * illegal = legal."

        That was my point exactly, who need a Visa when the need can be obviated using due process (1.)

        1. Chloroform, cable ties and the back of a van. Sorted 'innit'.

  13. Scroticus Canis

    Validation testing and the back-out plan somewhat lacking then

    Some real pros at work here then. Planed db maintenance should always be validated by a run on a test base and implementation must always have a solid back-out plan which gets executed as soon as the maintenance/upgrade looks likely to exceed the recovery window start point. That's planned maintenance the old fashioned way. Rank amateurs IMHO.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a pity

    Incompetence and defective products are just considered a normal situation these days. No one is held accountable and there are no provisions to prevent or effectively deal with these issues. I can only imagine the problems many people have experienced due to this screw-up.

  15. jason 7

    C'mon we all know what the problem is.

    I'm pretty sure it accounts for 95% of cock ups whether IT or Admin.

    Basically the working population in the West doesn't give a crap about their jobs anymore.

    They've all been kicked in the nuts or ovaries so many times by those at the top they don't don't give a sh*t.

    If they see a major issue or bug on the horizon do they dutifully get up and report it? Nope, sod it, who cares, let it happen! Maybe our boss will get the sack and we'll get a new douchebag in his place. He/she might be less of a douche so it might work out okay!

    To quote Office Space -

    "It's not that I'm's that I just don't care!"

    If you are a Boss, think long and hard about what you have done to make staff 'want to take a bullet' for you or the company over the past few years. Yep...thats why they all keep coming in later and later with longer and longer faces.

  16. Arachnoid

    If your in a company

    Where all the Sh1t rolls downhill and all the praise goes up hill then its no surprise when projects dont run to time or budget.

  17. GreyWolf

    The new paradigm... everything the RBS way...

  18. TimeBandit

    It's a Bug - Needs Patching or Upgrading

    Apply the latest patchset or upgrade to the latest version. Have a nice day, please come again!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I smell Россия

  20. JaitcH

    The US of A - world's technology leader ... ONLY on their minds.

    I have a friend whose passport is filled and he needs extra pages to be able to exit this country in order to get home to his child who had an accident. But the US Consulate just gave him a number and told him to check their web site.

  21. OffBeatMammal

    collateral damage

    Made a special trip outside the US to renew my US visa (because for whatever reason even when the paperwork is approved you still have to leave their border to get the stamp) and had my Consulate interview last week.

    So the US Embassy now has my passport and because they're totally opaque and unaccountable I don't know if I'll be able to travel as planned or stuck here (with my daughter) racking up unexpected bills and - despite being a tax payer there you're not really wanted or represented - no-one seems to be doing a good job of caring or communicating. Starting to wonder if they know how to update their website to add a status notification...

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