What's in a name?

It's the late 1980s, and this pilot fish works for a little outfit that installs accounting and manufacturing systems for small businesses.

"With less than ten people and a shoestring budget, we didn't have the resources to create a sophisticated call-tracking and billing system," says fish. "But we had a manual system for recording support calls and solutions to support the billing that went to the customer.

"This also had some information to help us track statistics on calls, such as what the root cause of the call was. These were two character codes such as HF for hardware failure, OE for operator error, and so on. There were also unofficial codes we used, such as US for user stupidity, but we weren't allowed to use these on the forms."

One day, a call comes in from a customer that uses a minicomputer-based job cost system. The customer's month-end processing is failing with an error code that indicates the job history file is missing.

A tech heads over to the customer's site to investigate. It turns out that the job history file -- a crucial file for customer billing and job tracking -- is indeed missing.

A quick chat with the accounting team turns up the fact that during the previous month-end processing, there was an error message -- one that was bypassed by the team and never reported. The error: Not enough disk space to copy the job history file.

Bypassing the error means the job history file was deleted without a copy being made. What's worse, because of the backup media cycles, the last backup of the job history file is 29 days old -- and the most recent backup of this file was erased eight days before the tech was called in.

Tech has to break this very bad news to the accounting team members and their boss. They do not take it well.

"However, there was nothing they or we could do to retrieve the data, so the company spent quite a bit of money to bring in a temp to rekey the required data from reports," fish says. "Ouch.

"That day, a new code was unofficially added to the list of root causes: MUFU. The polite version of that code is Major User Foul Up. From that day forward, MUFU was the most-used acronym in the office."

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