Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
For the out-of-band Slashdot experience (mostly headlines), follow us on Twitter, or Facebook. ×

Comment: I nearly cost my company millions (Score 2) 264 264

I nearly cost my employer several million by fixing a bug.

The first task I was given in my new job was to look at an old system that printed labels to be put on containers of car parts. A message would come in on a serial cable saying what part was going to be needed within a few hours at a car assembly line, the parts were packed into stillages (a frame designed to hold a certain number of a certain part, like bonnets, bumpers, doors panels, etc.) and when a stillage was full, or when a certain amount of time had passed since the first part was picked, then a label was printed, applied to the stillage, and it was dispatched over the road to the factory.

Every time the serial number rolled over 9999 to 0001, the system would go wrong and stop working. This happened about once a month, and the help desk had a sheet of instructions on how to fix the problem. Some of the staff knew the fix off by heart.

I looked at the code, found a roll-over bug, and fixed it. Everything was fine, and a couple of years went by with no problems.

Then, at 3 in the morning, the help desk called me and said that it had happened again. They didn't have the sheet of paper any more, and no-one could remember how to fix it. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, and tried to get my brain into gear and remember what to do. It took me about an hour talking with a couple of help desk people, and between us we figured out what the fix was, and they called the warehouse and talked them through it.

The next day I talked with my colleagues, and found out that we had come within a few minutes of triggering a penalty clause for halting the production line that could have run into millions of pounds. This was back in the '90s when millions of pounds were a lot of money!

I looked back over the code, and found that there were actually two very similar bugs in the code, one of which happened fairly regularly, and one which only happend much more infrequently, but the same fix worked for both of them.

Back when I first started working in IT, my boss told me, "One day, you will probably make your million pound mistake. In our business, we build systems that, over the course of our careers, will save millions of pounds in lots of small ways. Eventually you will make a mistake, and one of those systems will go wrong, and it might cost millions. Your employer will bear the cost of it, which is why we don't earn those millions ourselves. You have to be prepared for that eventuality. If it happens while you're working for me then I will kick your arse, and maybe I will fire you, but I'd be wrong to do so, that's just the nature of the business that we are in."

Comment: Re:Your tax dollars at work (Score 1) 45 45

That's a great way to encourage investment. This company has spent tens of millions developing this technology. Sure, that pales into nothing compared to billions, but it's still a lot of money, and denying them any return from it is ridiculous. Also, the ISS is not the USSS. If the ISSP gets some of the money from this company, then great, and they probably have already paid them a chunk of cash.

Comment: Re:Had to go with the last one (Score 1) 225 225

I'm prettty sure his heart is the same as everyone else's. TL;DR: it's an organ that pumps blood around his body. Unless he has an artifical heart, but would that really exonerate him of responsibility? It's his brain that made the decisions, and that almost certainly isn't artificial.

Comment: Re:Not enough room? Not enough food? (Score 0) 692 692

But I would whole-heartedly support a "stop making fucking babies" measure.

And when the last new woman born runs our of eggs, we end up stuck with the existing population and no more humans can be born, ever. As we die due to accidents, the population dwindles to zero. Good riddance to us, I say, for being so stupid!

The old have to make way for the young. Stop desperately grasping hold of the dry, dusty moments of increasingly stretched existence. Step aside and let the next generation have their turn. Upload your consciousness into a computer, and believe the illusion that that's still you in there, if that makes you feel happier, but get your corpse underground you selfish old coot.

The UNIX philosophy basically involves giving you enough rope to hang yourself. And then a couple of feet more, just to be sure.

Working...