UPDATE: The API works again. The worldwide freakout will now subside.
No post can possibly live up to that headline, and you might think what I’m reporting here is no big deal, but it truly is. Here’s the situation.
Websites interface with institutions and offsite data through what is called an API, a widget that transmits data on demand. It is through an API that Mises.org is able to pull shipping prices from the US Postal Service.
Every provider has its own API, including UPS and FedEx and everyone else.
Last week we began to notice some strange errors in the logs. Mises.org was unable to pull USPS data. We checked to make sure that we had the most up-to-date API. We did. The problem was that it wasn’t working. The post office screwed up.
And not only Mises.org is affected. Every web store on the planet that depends on USPS shipping prices was affected by the screw up. We had to disable it on Mises.org, lest the store slow to a crawl. It was 10 days ago that we started to notice problems.Things only got worse until it went completely kaput. There is still no fix. We can’t fix it. No third part can. Only the post office can fix it. Are they? Not yet. Will they? At some point, perhaps. But USPS is giving no ETA of a fix.
Meanwhile, the only workaround is to invent some flat rate prices and plug them in by hand. That’s what people are doing all over the web – thanks to the blasted government and its amazing incompetence.
Here it is the busiest shopping week of the year in the middle of a recession, and the post office flakes out, and fundamentally! This is astounding to me. What it means is that without private shipping services, online commerce would have pretty much come to a halt.
Think about what that means and extend the example. Thank goodness for free enterprise. Put the whole of society under the control of the state and the entire economy would eventually become one big broken and unfixable API disaster.