Before you send out a press release hyping a site, make sure the network connections work.
The Veterans Affairs Department sent me a press release at about 1 p.m. EST today hailing improvements made to the e-benefits website it operates jointly with the Defense Department, but alas, I had great difficulty connecting for hours from New Mexico.
So did colleagues at Nextgov HQ in the Watergate in Washington. One colleague managed to connect to the www.ebenefits.va.gov portal using Chrome and Firefox browsers early this afternoon, but not with Internet Explorer, which is more widely used in North America.
Another colleague struck out with all three browsers, then ran a “tracert” command for the portal, and had that time out after 12 hops. He finally managed to connect sometime after 3 p.m. using all three browsers.
I tried connecting to the new and improved Web portal using both Firefox and Internet Explorer more than 100 times, and connected only about ten times. I also ran multiple tracert commands, and never managed to connect as of 3:30 p.m., timing out after five hops at a network node in Chicago.
I had no problem today accessing other federal websites, including the main VA page at www.va.gov.
I guess the lesson here is that before you send out a press release hyping a site, make sure the network connections work.