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Wayback Wednesday: He’s really good at worst-case scenarios


Flashback to 1994: This pilot fish works at a company that does military projects, and his program manager comes back from an IT conference with a nifty new gadget.

“It’s a thing that punches a hole in the corner of a double-density floppy disk so you can format it as high-density,” says fish. “The program manager crows about how much money we can save using it — about 10 cents per disk — and makes a big presentation at the quarterly review for the executive VP.

“I casually ask if he understands the difference in how the disks are manufactured, using the analogy about raking sand versus raking gravel. He snarkily replies that it doesn’t matter because the cost benefits outweigh that.

“So I ask if he is willing to risk storing the mission-critical software we are developing for the military on a bootleg formatted disk to save 10 cents. VP asks me what the worst-case scenario is.

“I tell him, ‘Worst case is a bunch of soldiers standing in front of a launcher with a screen saying, “Disk not formatted,” while enemy missiles rain down around them.’

“The disk punch was quietly consigned to the supply room.”

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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