How much do you want it to be?

It's the 1990s, and this pilot fish is the IT guy for a small manufacturing plant.

"I and a programmer we hired for the job were working on modifying various MRP systems to meet the owner's unique requirements," says fish.

"It was a dubious activity to start with, but we do what we're paid to do -- in this case, hack the heck out of an already malfunctioning MRP system. I knew the system, and the programmer knew the programming language."

Trouble is, this programmer either can't or won't bother to make sure to access and update all of the related data files. The errors generally turn up when the company controller prints out the financial reports.

The correct IT fix for that kind of error is obvious: Running through the programs with test data, doing some debugging, seeing what's failing and why, and then fixing it.

The programmer's quicker and much easier solution: Asking the controller, "What do you want it to say? I can make it do that."

Then the programmer spends a few hours rummaging through the related programs, making a correction here and there, until the report prints out with the correct numbers.

"Problem was, next time it ran, it was wrong again," fish grumbles. "If he had actually fixed the programs, these errors wouldn't keep occurring and we wouldn't need him to keep 'fixing' it -- a truly twisted form of job security.

"Fortunately, he didn't last very long. But by the time he left, we were all ready to strangle him!"

What Sharky wants is your true tale of IT life. Send it to me at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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