Friday, July 29, 2005

Computers in circles

(sorry it's technical and not fun)

Did you ever feel like you were just running around in circles, and all that you were doing was digging the trench a little deeper each time? I’m sitting at work and need a break from thinking, so I thought (wait a minute, supposed to be taking a break from thinking, but this entry will probably prove that I did) that I’d write something. It’s been a week, and I really should. It’s so nice to bounce around the blogs and see a new post – like somebody you would like to see comes by and says Hi! and sits a while. I usually take some time after lunch and pull up all the ones to the right, then maybe hit one or two links via the comments. Interesting places.

Back to work stuff – (Noooo, not work) I’m a computer programmer for a bank, working in the credit card section. The main program I am in charge of is the one that handles applications, review, credit check and approval. I used to also handle the collections one, that’s the program our telephone people use to keep track of customers they call and ask for money. But I sucked John from my last job into coming here, and they gave him collections. He is doing really well with it, but there is still one change to that I have been involved with. So I am still working on one section – the area where our callers can take a check over the phone. It’s still magic to me – my program talks over the internal web to another program which then talks to still another computer and that eventually flows someplace to verify the checking account. The way all of these things work together (well, sometimes) and get things done. I have always worked on programs that did things themselves, so this new style of programming, where different pieces are on different computers, is new to me.

Anyway, last week one of our analysts (yes, a place that has business analysts, a first for me) found a problem. Last month two new employees started in the collections area, and they had the same names as two old employees. Whenever they took a check all of these computers started talking to each other. And way down the line one of them said “hey, I don’t know what employee is doing this, I’m confused” and dropped the check info. We have to keep track of employees, as they get bonuses based on how much they collect. But when this computer dropped things it didn’t tell the other computers, so the employee (and customer) thought a payment had been made. Last week one of the new people said “where is my collections bonus” and his boss said “according to our reports you didn’t take any payments”. Which led to finding out about the name thingy. Confused yet? Sorry to be techie, but the programmers in the UK should understand.

So it’s been a week trying to figure out what happened and fixing it. Complicated because it goes through different computers, and three different programmers, each knowing what their part does. It’s come down to me to find out how much was lost, and figure out how to reimburse the customers for any late fees charged because we didn’t know we lost their payments. That was done by Tuesday. Then it took a few days for an analyst to get time to look at my stuff, and confirm I did it correctly. I made up a big corrections list to send to the master computer in the sky and was about to do it, when I made the mistake of asking the person in charge of talking to that computer if she needed paperwork approving this. She said yes, and then the problems started. The analyst made up a Change Control form and took it to our boss to sign. The boss said “How are these credits getting posted?” and I said via a big file, like we’ve been doing for years. He said no, use the new way, and so I’ve been running around for two days trying to figure out what the new way is. No, nobody is doing it the new way, despite what my boss thinks, so I’m the first. Go to Jim to see what he does, then to Rowena to see her part, then to Subba to find out what Oracle (another big program system) wants, then off to Jennifer to see what the big computer needs, and back to Jim, then Subba again, and around and around and around. And my boss will probably come by in a few minutes to ask if it’s done, so I better get back to doing it.

No pictures, no granddaughter stories. Sorry. But my wife is off to our daughter's today to watch Eli while daughter does some work stuff. She's a teacher, and found out she needs to renew her hepatitus test, so she is off to the lab for that poking. Then a few days next week of prep, and the following week maternity leave is over and back to teaching third grade. For the last week of the term - year round school here. Then three weeks off for track break, and back at it. So Grandma gets to play grandma, not at our house, with the visious dogs, but at daughter's.

No comments: