This is why, now and then, we reinvent the wheel

Flashback to the 1980s, when this Cobol programmer has a new job -- and his first assignment is whipping up a new report for a major application.

"The business analyst designed the report with headers and footers and subtotals," fish says. "She expected me to get the subtotals from where they were separately stored online in some total fields that were kept up to date by the online software.

"I was fairly new to the group, so I didn't know about the online totals and subtotals. So I designed the report using the Cobol report writer, and all the subtotals and totals were updated from the base data by the report writer module of Cobol. It was faster and more efficient than accessing those subtotals anyway.

"I ran the report -- and the business analyst came storming over. She wanted to know where I got all the totals and subtotals, because they didn't agree with the ones stored in the system.

"I calmly informed her that the numbers on the report were correct and that if the ones in the system didn't match, then the ones in the system were incorrect.

"She was very mad until they found the online bugs -- in code written before I even joined that company -- that were adding up the internal totals incorrectly."

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