Bet he really missed his self-modifying code, too

This bank uses lots of old-school Cobol code for handling its customers' money -- which means it's a good thing a programmer pilot fish working there is keeping it as maintainable as possible.

"I used comments in my code, but I also tried to use the self-documenting feature of Cobol by making variable and paragraph names as meaningful as possible," says fish.

"However, I ran into one program that was apparently written by an assembly language programmer. It was a nightmare. No variable name was longer than eight characters, which was the limit in assembler.

"The program had an output record that interfaced to the general ledger system, and had over 100 totals for various monetary amounts tracked by the bank's software for CD and savings accounts. The output totals were accumulated in a table -- also with eight-character names.

"So when there was any issue with that interface, I would be trying to work out which field related to the general-ledger figure that was at issue, then trace it back to the amount in the original system that it was generated from.

"And each time, I'd have to go through the code to check which system variable was added to every likely output field, so I could see if it was the output field I was looking for or not!"

They say suffering builds character. Sharky just knows it makes great stories. So send your true tales of IT misery...er, life to me at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll score a sharp Shark shirt every time I use one. Comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

Get your daily dose of out-takes from the IT Theater of the Absurd delivered directly to your Inbox. Subscribe now to the Daily Shark Newsletter.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

9 steps to lock down corporate browsers
  
Shop Tech Products at Amazon