Awasu » Do you want to format disk #47?
Wednesday 21st March 2007 12:16 PM [General]

You definitely have to feel at least a little bit sorry for the poor sod who did this.

[A] computer technician reformat[ed] a disk drive at the Alaska Department of Revenue. While doing routine maintenance work, the technician accidentally deleted applicant information for an oil-funded account — one of Alaska residents' biggest perks — and mistakenly reformatted the backup drive, as well.

There was still hope, until the department discovered its third line of defense, backup tapes, were unreadable.

Apparently the account was worth 38 billion dollars :blink:

While it's easy to snicker at the guy for wiping the drive and the backup, you have to wonder how good their procedures must've been to even allow such a thing to happen. The article hints at that at the end when it says

"Everybody felt very bad about it and we all learned a lesson. There was no witch hunt," [former Revenue Commissioner] Corbus said.

According to department staff, they now have a proven and regularly tested backup and restore procedure.

Still, it certainly highlights the need for a solid backup strategy, as this presentation from Dr. Harold Twain Weck explains. I've linked to it before but as a public service, I encourage y'all to to check it out 😉

Backups are something I've always been pretty disciplined about, a habit I picked up at my first job at Telecom Australia's huge mainframe data centre in Melbourne. I remember hearing the (probably apocryphal) story about a guy who accidentally deleted huge amounts of data from a live production database. He only wanted to format one disk in a box of 64 but the software forced you start at disk number 1, asking Do you want to format disk #1? Press Y or N, then Do you want to format disk #2?, until you got to the one you wanted :blink: (remember, this was a mainframe operating system, written back in the 60's).

Anyway, the poor guy went through the list pressing ENTER each time, thinking that the default was N and was apparently rather miffed to find that the default was actually Y :hysterical: Of course, the real WTF here is that whoever wrote that bit of code thought that Y was the sensible default 🙄

Actually, it occurs to me that this may well be the future of blogging. As bloggers get older, they will ruminate less on what their cat did that day and start droning on about how difficult it was using computers when they were young [1].

Never happen to me, of course... 🙄

[1] It certainly was for me. I had to carry my punch card decks for miles from the data entry center to the processing center. In the snow. Uphill. In both directions!

One Response to this post

Punch cards? You had it easy! We had to rewire the system manually each time, and we thought we were lucky, etc, etc.

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