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Common ’80s IT: Excellent concept results in additional duties, without additional training or pay, and a nuked payroll system

Common ’80s IT: Excellent concept results in additional duties, without additional training or pay, and a nuked payroll system
Who, Me? Banish those Monday blues with a recollection of IT-related foolishness in The Register's Who, Me? feature. Today's tale comes from a reader Regomised as "Tom" and concerns events that took place back in the early '80s, when The Empire Strikes Back still ruled the roost and Raiders of The Lost Ark was creeping…

Who, Me? Banish those Monday blues with a recollection of IT-related foolishness in The Register’s Who, Me? function.

Today’s tale comes from a reader Regomised as “Tom” and concerns events that happened back in the early ’80 s, when The Empire Strikes Back still ruled the roost and Raiders of The Lost Ark was sneaking into movie theaters.

Tom had just left university and was working for a making business in England. The lucky young boy at first invested his time knee-deep in ICL Cobol, adding columns to reports and upgrading the name and phone number of accounts receivable personnel to ensure they printed properly. Delighting stuff and, naturally, whatever was hard-coded.

” My first career high point,” he told us, “wanted being asked to alter the name and phone number again, I suggested that the hard-coded name and phone number be secured of the program and the exact same details be placed on a criterion card.”

” This,” he stated decently, “worked out.”

” For the benefit of the exceedingly young,” he included, “a parameter card was a virtual 80- character punch card that was stored in the JCL (Job Control Language) before the program call. Hey presto, no more code changes when people change!”

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In IT, no great deed goes unpunished and sure enough, Tom quickly found himself with additional duties (” I do not keep in mind any training or pay increase”) and was charged with supporting the business’s payroll system after his predecessor departed for pastures brand-new and likely more lucrative.

Time passed, and Tom got a brand-new version of the payroll system to set up.

Setup was basic. Copy the contents to the source code library, assemble it, run some tests, and Bob’s your uncle.

The test failed.

What had actually happened was that the process to copy the tape to the library had avoided files of the very same name, suggesting Tom now had an unholy mix of old and new code.

It wasn’t a problem. There were weekly backups. All Tom needed to do was bring back the borked files and all would be well.

That stopped working too. “My day was not improving,” he remembered.

In a masterstroke of connected thinking, the old tape backup units had just been replaced by more capable units.

” We were in a genuine hole,” said Tom. He had actually single-handedly broken the payroll system. The only option was to pay staff the like the week in the past. “This was all extremely embarrassing for the IT department and me in particular.”

By the time the following week rolled around, Tom had upgraded the copy energy, recompiled the new code, run the test and hurrah! A working payroll system as soon as again!

All the exact same, he, his employer, and a bigwig were sent out to the main factory to place on a show of solidarity in front of a workforce suspicious of what payroll-related wheeze IT may have in store for them that week. Fortunately, there were no problems (a minimum of “no issues attributable to the IT department …”)

It was asked why Tom did not take a fresh backup prior to the fateful copy.

Tom therefore escaped with a moderate slap on the wrist and the bigwig moved on. “I do think that his meeting with the operations supervisor was more fractious,” he understated as soon as again.

Tom is now retired, a long profession in IT behind him however, thanks to this injury, we think of that he is still the most hygienic of souls when it concerns backing stuff up.

Is there anyone who has never had the bowel-loosening experience that arises from the discovery that a backup was not all you hoped it might be? ®

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