Tuesday, May 8, 2007

SSNS ON THE LOOSE! (Legacy Edition)

I'm trying to understand the newsworthiness of the latest episode of "SSNS On The L0OzE. OMG!!1!!"

Some dude in the mail room puts a bunch of computer tapes in the wrong slot, according to the AP report in the Houston Chronicle. State agency looks for 'em. Contractor looks for 'em. Then they find 'em, in the wrong slot. A problem as old as the mainframe.

My guess: the missing tape was a quarterly report (WITH SSNS!!), there was some turnover in the computer room, and the folkloric control vanished with the last operator who performed it. The article doesn't state the format of the tapes, but I'm guessing it's EBCDIC flavored, with a chewy center of either DB2, Adabas or Model204. (The New Russian mob has standardized on Unicode, leaving behind Blofeld and his "legacy" villainy.)

Solution? Document the process, develop a tracking spreadsheet. People have been exchanging tapes for decades, and there are simple ways to track it. You could even buy some bar code software, or something. (As it says on the wall in the illustration: If In Doubt ASK".)

What is the solution proposed by the contractor?

The company is now exploring transferring the data electronically to improve security, [contractor spokesman] Lightfoot said.
I think my way is cheaper. And safer. And easier to track. I only know what I read in the papers, though.

Diamonds Are Forever image courtesy Xeni.

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