Turns out it's faster with punch cards after all

It's the 1980s, and this pilot fish is a mainframe computer operator for a big insurance company. The big news: IBM has just delivered tape drives that use cartridges instead of the old reels.

"This technology improvement significantly increased the quality of life for me," fish says. "The cartridges held more data, were easier to manage and performed much faster during our batch cycles.

"There was only one problem. Nearly every night as our batch cycle reached its peak, the entire bank of drives would inexplicably power cycle."

Which, naturally, kills all the jobs that are running and effectively wipes out much of the time that the technology has shaved off the data center's schedule.

Repeated service calls reveal nothing -- all the tests show the equipment is working normally. The drives aren't broken, and they don't seem to be lemons.

But one night, another operator notices something: Fish has a habit of standing in the same spot right next to the tape drive controller while he waits for the batch cycle to kick into high gear.

And he's been slouching there every night since the new drives started failing.

With a little further investigation, the operator observes something else: The emergency power switch is located in the worst (in other words, most convenient) place possible: right on the front panel of the controller.

"As I rested against the controller each night to wait for my next tape mount, the wallet in my back pocket extended just far enough to bump the power switch," groans fish. "The switch would not completely flip, but would provide a momentary power interruption that caused the power cycle.

"We corrected the problem by taping a punch card over the switch, which prevented further unintentional problems, but still allowed us access to the button in an emergency."

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