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Bringing California's digital campaign and lobbying disclosure database back online takes more than a simple reboot.

The aging Cal-Access system was built using 13 different programming languages, 90 disk drives and an operating system so old and uncommon that there are only a couple of people in the entire country with the knowledge and expertise to tackle the issues.

That's made pinpointing the problem responsible for taking the site offline for most of the last two weeks as difficult as finding a fix.

"It's almost like we need a Rosetta Stone to deal with these 13 languages," Secretary of State Debra Bowen said in an interview Wednesday.

As reported in today's Bee, Bowen's staff is currently trying three separate methods for restoring Web access to the site, including rebuilding the original disk storage system. While it likely won't be a permanent fix for the 12-year-old database, Bowen said she hopes the strategies will bring more stability to the site.

Tech savvy readers, or anyone interested in a blast from computer science past, can read the full Cal-Access diagnosis and a rundown of the recovery methods in the following memo issued by the secretary of state's office:

CALACCESS Short Explainer December 2011


California website's glitches block online tracking of campaign donations

Tech troubles continue for CalAccess campaign finance site


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