Now that's what we call a bad bug

This IT pilot fish has been working for a small tour operator for years, and when he leaves to get a graduate degree, the company is happy to have him do a little consulting,

"I was more than happy for the additional work," fish says. "After all, I did have the expenses that come with a wife, two teenage boys and graduate school."

Fish is even happier when the company asks him to do a fairly complicated upgrade to consolidate the system that handles tour buses with the one that covers hotel representation.

Once everything is written and tested, the new system goes live. But the accounting clerk -- who had done the work on the old system -- immediately begins to complain that it's not working right.

Fish logs in remotely to look for the problems that are giving the accounting clerk grief. But no matter how deep he goes into the code, he can't find any issues -- it all appears to work to spec. In fact, fish can't even find problems with the examples provided by the clerk.

So fish flies in to the office during a break in school to see what he can find. But he and the accounting manager still can't find any problems, even as the clerk continues to insist that the programs aren't working correctly.

Fish returns to school -- and it's not until a few months later that he gets word from the accounting manager that the problem has been pinpointed.

"She discovered the issue by going over old records -- and found out that the clerk had been embezzling funds," says fish. "The not-working-right complaints had to do with the clerk not being able to figure out a way to keep embezzling funds on the new system like she did on the old one.

"Apparently the stress from the loss of funds was putting a crimp on her lifestyle, and she continued to complain. That gave the accounting manager the idea to investigate deeper into payments from the old system.

"In retrospect, that should have been where our investigation started, given the salary levels paid in the tour company business and the fashionable clothes the clerk wore in the office."

Sharky's lifestyle revolves around true tales of IT life. Send your story to me at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll get a stylish Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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