Speed kills

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It's the early 1980s when this IT pilot fish joins the workforce -- and figures out a neat hack at his first real job at a small company.

"The company's minicomputer had user terminals in some of the offices," says fish. "The terminals allowed you to do a few things beyond simple data entry, and one trick was to tell the terminal to skip input fields on a data entry screen.

"One day my boss gave me a large batch of General Ledger journal entries that needed to be corrected. They were missing values in two fields, out of about two dozen. So I programmed the screen to skip from the required fields to the end, accept the page, go to the next entry, and skip down to the fields I had to enter.

"As a result, what would have taken me most of the day took about 45 minutes.

"And the entire time, I could hear everyone else who was trying to use the computer -- and I do mean everyone -- complaining about how extremely slow the system was running.

"Seems my little 'trick' was consuming almost all of the minicomputer's resources.

"I didn't say a word about it, not while I was doing the work, and certainly not after. My boss was extremely surprised when I told him the job was done."

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