[rescue] Perverse Question

Sheldon T. Hall shel at cmhcsys.com
Thu Jun 19 22:53:24 CDT 2003

 Charles Shannon Hendrix wrote ...

> Both of you guys are in for a shock if you go work for a bank.
> You'd be surprised what their downtime for critical stuff can be
> sometimes.
> No, not main accounts: that stuff is still on mainframes where I've
> been, but credit processing and a lot of other stuff was frighteningly
> fragile.
> I don't even want to get into the management getting newbies to
> 'fat-finger' records of accounting to make the files balance.

Heh.  My "first job in computers" was in a bank, as a computer operator, in
the days before disks were the ultimate in on-line random access storage.
It was my job to do the overnight batch runs that applied the day's
transactions to the master accounts, produced reports, and generated the
next day's master accounts.

It was not at all unusual for things to come up "out of balance" because of
transactions that got made-cancelled-remade and where one of the steps got
bollixed up, or because of storage read/write problems.  When that happened,
we were supposed to find the transaction (easy if it as an odd amount like
$136.47, but near impossible if it was $100.00), _edit_the_transaction_ to
make things balance, and re-run all the batches.

Of course, if we didn't have time to re-run all the batches, we'd just edit
the master record, too.

The only record of this was the console log, which was on paper.  The
console printer was a hacked IBM Selectric with wires from its key switches
running into memory locations in the console cabinet.  A 3x5 file card would
have sufficed as a "root kit."  You'd just put it under the print head so
nothing came out on the log paper, and edit anything you wanted.

I expect things are a bit different now, but, to judge from the number of
corrections and notations in the various monthly statements I get, the main
difference is that it takes today's operators multiple tries to get it


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