He DID get it after the second time, though

Flashback to the early 1990s, when this pilot fish's first job out of college is at a small software company that wants to move beyond the mainframe market.

"The company had an accounting and distribution software package written in Cobol, but had hired me and another person to rewrite it in a 4GL," says fish.

"We wrote it, and the company sold the new package and started installing it on Unix servers."

This being a small vendor, fish is also onsite for some of the installs, including one customer that has been running the 4GL version in parallel with their old accounting software, but is now ready to go live with fish's code.

And in the course of the installation, for some reason fish manages to issue the Unix "rm *" command and erase every file from the directory containing the databases.

Fish immediately admits his mistake to the customer's IT director. But fish isn't too worried. After all, the lost data can just be restored from backups -- right?

Er, no. Turns out there aren't any backups.

"The IT director took it pretty well because there wasn't that much data, and he figured they could just re-enter it if they really wanted it," fish says. "I strongly encouraged him to get a tape backup procedure in place and discussed how to do it.

"Flash forward a year or so: That same IT director called me one day because there was a problem with one of their disks and their database was probably lost. I told him to restore from backup. He sheepishly admitted he had not yet put a backup system in place.

"He got one soon afterwards."

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