User errors: Log, yes -- ignore, no

Flashback to the 1990s, when this pilot fish gets a programming job at a company that sells new and used networking equipment.

"We used an accounting system written in xBase, and one of my first assignments was to work on a module that would let our procurement department create purchase orders directly from a customer's sales order," says fish.

"The module had been blessed by the alpha and beta testers and had gone live, but there was still the occasional issue with it."

With that in mind, fish includes an error-tracking log in the module, which will save the date, time, program code, error code and user name of the person who got the error -- along with whether the user chose to cancel the program, suspend the program or ignore the error.

Late one day, IT gets a call: All the open sales order numbers have changed without warning -- something that's never happened before.

And after investigation, it turns out that it's fish's module that's the culprit.

So fish pulls up the error log to see what could possibly have caused the problem. And he finds it: a user who chose the 'Ignore' option 43 times within three minutes as she plowed her way through various errors to create the foul-up.

Fish and another programmer spend more than three hours after work correcting the mis-numbered sales orders. Then fish fixes the cause of the error -- and removes the "Ignore" option.

"I also added a new feature to the error-handling routine," fish says. "The routine now created a unique eight-digit code that the user would have to get from us before continuing after encountering an error.

"Once we installed these new modifications, the sales order renumbering issue never happened again."

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