back to article How an over-zealous yank took down the trading floor of a US bank

Good Monday morning, Reg readers, and welcome once more to Who, Me? – our regular trip down memory lane for those with something to get off their chest. This week, we meet “Alan” who once took out an entire trading floor at an arm of a US bank. Back in 1996, Alan had just graduated from a software engineering degree and had …

Facepalm

DevOps?

I'm willing to bet my 1996 bonus that Alan did not get "a job in devops" back then.

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Pint

Re: DevOps?

Damn, beat me to it!

Never too early for a pint; have one on me.

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Re: DevOps?

A rose, by any other name...

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Re: DevOps?

A rose by any other name ... would stink of rotting garlic.

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Headmaster

Re: DevOps?

While it might be the buzzword of the CIO, CTO, et al these days, the concept has been around a long time, long before 1996.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: DevOps?

While it might be the buzzword of the CIO, CTO, et al these days, the concept has been around a long time, long before 1996.

No such thing as a new thing. I remember when people were getting all excited about the "new" thin client model a few years ago...."oh, you mean like the mini/mainframe I was using at university a couple of decades back?"

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Re: DevOps?

It may not have been called "DevOps", but we most certainly used the same concepts and methods in the mid 90s. Of course, back then, buzzwords were real buzzwords....

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Re: DevOps?

I'm willing to bet that "screaming traders assaulted the frame room baying for my blood” didn't happen either. From the traders I met when I worked in the city most of them couldn't tell you where their phone was plugged in, never mind where the server room was and even if they did find it , the door would have been auto locking even back then so unless 1 of them had the combination or he jammed the door open its total BS.

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Re: DevOps?

I was doing DevOps in 1978. One person computer shop. I added peripheral maintenance to DevOps when I replaced the print chain on a GE line printer. Fun times. Start a batch job, go over to Times Square to down one or two liter of Dinkelacker. BDevOpFH.

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Re: DevOps?

"It may not have been called "DevOps", but we most certainly used the same concepts and methods in the mid 90s."

One of the joys of being a grey-beard is that you can watch all the young folk [re]discovering so much stuff. All we need is a buzzy name and we can get waterfall development back in fashion.

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Coat

Re: DevOps?

"All we need is a buzzy name and we can get waterfall development back in fashion."

Golden Showers?

Gonna need a good rain coat now.

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Re: DevOps?

.... or buzzfeed.

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Re: DevOps?

All we need is a buzzy name and we can get waterfall development back in fashion.

TQAIASSM (t'-kwai-as-'m)

Total Quality Artificial Intelligence Administered Stateful Software Management.

I can feel the dollars rolling in already. I'll write it once I've been funded enough to retire to a distant tropical island (volcano lair optional).

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Re: DevOps?

All we need is a buzzy name and we can get waterfall development back in fashion.

===

TITSUP

Total Inability To Support Usual Processes ....................

well, why the heck not, it's a great acronym :oP

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Pint

Re: DevOps?

Must be some El-Reg editorial policy or bonus scheme (extra beer?) for the journos. Thou shalt strive to mention "DevOps" in as many articles as possible

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Re: DevOps?

I think we called that a Client/Server Model of Computing like BACK IN THE DAY of 1980's era IBM AS-400 or even the 1960's/1970's era VAX-780 and IBM 360 mainframe. DevOps is basically Top-Down development and VERY BASIC 1950's era Systems Analysis.

a) Define the business problem you're trying to solve.

b) Define the FUNCTIONALITY of current or new components needed to solve a part of the overall business problem. (i.e. Do we need hardcopy printing, email, calendar functions, streaming videophones, SMS/instant messaging, calendar input, etc)

c) Define the TYPES of processing modules NEEDED to solve each require functionality as defined above. (i.e. print PDF reports, Enter data via touch screen or keyboard, send email to clients on POP server, use RTSP for video, etc)

d) Define the functionality of sub-components needed within each large-scale component

(buy RTSP DLL from Datastead for video streaming, use Thunderbird components for email,

code custom data entry screen in-house, use PDF generator component in compiler, etc)

e) Code, Link and Combine components into test runtime folder

f) test on SEPARATE MACHINE with SEPARATE TEST DATA ONLY!!!!!!!

DO NOT USE LIVE DATABASE !!!

g) test 1000 times with local admin department heads and team of each component and data entry and processing module over 3 months.

h) Do bug report log and send back for recode and retesting of 'E" and "F" and "G" over another 60 days.

i) Get Go-ahead for One-Branch-Office-at-a-Time deployment with initial two weeks allocated for in-house training and another two weeks of real-time use per office for real-world feedback and fixes.

If no major issues, then go ahead and use same two-week training and two week real world test schedule for next three months at another three branch offices.

j) If no major problems at the four branch offices, then roll out to ABOTHER four branch offices at the same time again with two week training and two weeks in-office testing until all offices update to new version of application. Update ONLY four branch offices at a time and train/test for 30 days!

h) Shut down last database from old system ONLY AFTER ALL OFFICES are converted but still keep on online version of the old software on ONE machine in every branch office connected to a separate head office server for at least one year as backups just in case something BAD happens to new system!

i) do a 3 month, 6-month and 1 year review of each office interviewing certain users personally on fixes or updates required for next app update version. Send responses back to coders and management for review and add-in and THEN DO ANOTHER office-by-office rollout but with an accelerated one week of in-house training and two weeks of testing for NEW bugs.

THAT is how you do a PROPER Roll-out of a new app using Top-Down Modeling and Deployment!

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Re: DevOps?

"Total Quality Artificial Intelligence Administered Stateful Software Management."

You left off blockchain.

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Re: DevOps?

It's called SAFe.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: DevOps?

Amen, brother. After 12 years of dealing with that same scenario on the same application, for each update, I can attest to the absolute desire to chuck a bunch of flaming bags of dog/cat/horse/human/elephant/cow poo at the doors of anybody of that vendor that has a 3-letter-acronym in their title. Why haven't I moved on? The pay is fantastic, I determine my own (over 40 hours) workweek, and I know enough about the software that I commonly correct their developers on their mistakes. Sometimes, you find a tech job that actually is worth the frustration, irritation, and insanity that comes with it. I got lucky on that.

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Re: DevOps?

" I can attest to the absolute desire to chuck a bunch of flaming bags of dog/cat/horse/human/elephant/cow poo at the doors of anybody of that vendor that has a 3-letter-acronym in their title"

Or to visit George (of the jungle) and ask to borrow Rex for a while.

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Facepalm

Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

My god... what were people thinking back then...

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Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

Came off in my hands guv'.

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WTF?

Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

A long, long time since I used IPX or Sparc but I can't remember that being a feature.

Perhaps some misguided "security" precaution?

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Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

Almost as good as the infamous IBM PC boot error:

"Keyboard not found. Press F1 to continue"

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

I remember someone unplugging the keyboard on a Sun box to tidy up the cabling.

The reason I remember this is that my boss at the time - a normally placid man - started screaming obscenities at the offender, as he happened to be in the machine room working on another system.

I thought I heard the words "force-fed", "floor tiles" and "without salt" somewhere in that rant.

Icon, but don't get another one - just plug the old one back in and step well away, there's a good chap. Or as the boss-man put it "GET OUT AND LEAVE MY KIT THE FUCK ALONE !"

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Windows

Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

My god... what were people thinking back then...

In that era you could blow a motherboard on a PC by (un)plugging a PS2 mouse or keyboard in

We need an icon for greybeards -->

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Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

Having replaced terminals on all kinds of running Sun gear before, during, and after that time frame, I'm fairly certain that unplugging the keyboard wouldn't cause a kernel panic. And having just pulled the keyboard from a running Sun 4/50 down in the machineroom/mausoleum/morgue/museum, I can fairly confidently state that that still doesn't cause a kernel panic.

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Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

Just a few days into my first proper job the unix sysadmin wanted to show off the insides of the shiny new Ultrix mainframe to me.

Unfortunately, removing the backplate caused an instant loss of power. Oops.

I learned a lot of lessons that week...

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"Keyboard not found. Press F1 to continue"

Because...serial console?

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Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

Almost as good as the infamous IBM PC boot error:

"Keyboard not found. Press F1 to continue"

I don't get why people think that is so stupid or funny.

Plug in a keyboard and press F1 to continue booting... What else were they supposed to do? Shut the system back down immediately? It's a clear, concise error message with an easy resolution.

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Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

"Plug in a keyboard and press F1 to continue booting" would therefore have been a better and unambiguous message.....

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Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

Unambiguous error messages from the hardware would have to wait until there was enough ROM to store them. Sadly, that doesn't seem to have happened yet.

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Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

"Plug in a keyboard and press F1 to continue booting" would therefore have been a better and unambiguous message.....

I think the reason that message was "funny" is precisely that it generally happened when a perfectly good keyboard was indeed correctly plugged in all the time. The problem lay elsewhere.

I was using mostly sparc workstations around the time of the story. But I don't recollect ever yanking a keyboard out, so I can't say one way or t'other whether anything bad happens. I suspect it depends on what is listening to the keyboard, and how it reacts on losing it, hence some seeing huge overreaction while jake saw no problem.

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Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

Huh! Who remembers the early days of the 80286, which had the A20 gate in the keyboard, meaning one way of speeding up the machine was the replace the keyboard with a newer one.

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Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

I don't get why people think that is so stupid or funny.

Because when confronted with a message on a screen, people's understanding becomes astonishingly literal. The stupidity really isn't as one sided as it seems at all.

(I wonder how many have headed for the exits when seeing the lpd "printer on fire" message)

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Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

@Korev

We need an icon for greybeards -->

I don't feel like grey beard yet..

I am also fairly sure if I did grow a beard it would be of all colours and look like a pile of lightly rotted grass...

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Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

Who remembers the early days of the 80286, which had the A20 gate in the keyboard

You left out an important word here: "controller". The original IBM PC/AT used the keyboard *controller* (not the actual keyboard) to manage the gate that suppressed access to what was later called the "High Memory Area".

The reason was that the 80286 had what amounted to a bug in its implementation of "real address mode", where the CPU itself did not suppress the carry out of A19 in the addition that calculated the physical address from the segment:offset virtual address. (It made the emulation of an 8086/8 faulty, in that FFFF:0010 was not the same address as 0000:0000.)

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Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

Sadly, that doesn't seem to have happened yet.

And yet the UEFI firmware on my new PC's motherboard has room for a mouse-driven GUI for the UEFI equivalent of BIOS Setup.

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Re: Why ...Press F1 to continue... was stupid

This is pre-dates USB by a long time. Hotplug hardware was somewhere between rare and fictional so plugging the keyboard back in could break the keyboard, motherboard or both. As the hardware did not support hotplug there was no reason to have the software handle it. If the hardware survived then the firmware in the keyboard controller could hang so the machine would need a power cycle anyway.

Now imagine you have got your server almost ready to install on site. You remove the keyboard and video card because no-one will be typing on that machine, switch on and the damn thing beeps at you. You read the manual for the motherboard and discover the beep code means the BIOS has not detected the video card and refuses to boot. You put the video card back in and try again: the machine hangs. Attempt three with a monitor shows the infamous "Keyboard not detected. Press F1 to continue". After summoning a horde of demons to hunt down and sandpaper the programmer responsible you dust off a coffee stained keyboard and rip the keycaps off it so the machine will boot (and the customer will not press the wrong button).

Years later, Microsoft came up with: "Mouse not detected. Click here to change."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

My one and only experience with SPARC workstations was when visiting a VLSI lab and the tech there was proudly showing off the multi-user, remote desktop capabilities. I noticed the mouse buttons didn't work and he calmly pointed out that numlock was on. I calmly pointed out that overpriced crap is still crap. The look of hurt on his face still haunts me and I have since learnt to temper my honest opinions when not on home turf.

Anonymous because the hard working tech guy could very well be reading this and still holding a grudge, or wielding a type4 keyboard.

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Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

On that note, how about "Jam in printer"...

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Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

"I am also fairly sure if I did grow a beard it would be of all colours"

My beard used to look like that. Now the red and brown hairs have faded to grey, as have some of the black ones, the blond ones are hard to tell if they are now gray or not. No grey anywhere else though.

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Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

That could have been fixed in the OS at a later stage.

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Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

Because when confronted with a message on a screen, people's understanding becomes astonishingly literal.

Like people who phone the helpdesk saying that they can't find the "Any" key.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/09/25/compaq_faq_explains_the_any/

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Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

@onefang, lucky you. Up top I've got salt and pepper going on, down under though.... slap a red hat on it and it'd look like an ugly santa impersonation. Only reason I can think of is how when some people get a sudden shock their hair turns white. Truth be told over the years it has seen things, things that would terrify H.R.Geiger so perhaps I shouldn't really be surprised.

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Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

Gate A20 was for DOS compatibility with machines having more than 1MB of RAM. Where does speed / keyboard come into this?

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Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

I don't feel like grey beard yet..

That's OK. We welcome diversity here. Beards of all colours and even non-beards welcome.

I agree with Korev: there are times when a greybeard icon would be useful here. And of course it would be open to honourary greybeards as well as us literals.

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Trollface

Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

"Beards of all colours and even non-beards welcome."

Non-beards? Don't we usually call them PFYs or women?

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Unhappy

Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

David, this was a non-delightful feature of SPARC hardware for a long time. Probably still has it. Bitten by same "feature" two decades ago. Which reminds me, must dump the Solaris 8 pizza boxes lurking in shed so I have more room for something useful.

At least AIX, HPUX and PCs hardware was not so scream inducing. I loved the old PARA-RISC HP hardware. One could do a full backup without starting the OS using embeded firmware. Great for major OS upgrades and raw disk databases.

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Trollface

Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

When I was on a hell desk and users reported that the printer was jamming I used to calmly and professionally ask if it was jazz or reggae.

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