The RISKS Digest
Volume 2 Issue 35

Sunday, 30th March 1986

Forum on Risks to the Public in Computers and Related Systems

ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy, Peter G. Neumann, moderator

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o San Jose Library
Matthew P. Wiener
Ken Laws
o Inter-system crashes
Rich A. Hammond
o Info on RISKS (comp.risks)

San Jose Library

Matthew P. Wiener <>
Fri, 28 Mar 86 00:14:06 pst
From an article in the 27 March 1986 San Francisco Chronicle:
  An employee of the San Jose public library "destroyed 16 days of records
  and garbled two weeks of circulation files."  A supervisor had "neglected
  to create a backup file".  267,000 books are involved.

  They expect 95.5 percent will be returned on time.  That leaves 12000.
  4000 are routinely returned late.  The other 8000 are considered lost
  at a replacement cost of $10 each, or $80,000.  About $18,000 in overdue
  fines will be lost.

  The system was two months old.  Training was still incomplete.  Several
  employees will be disciplined.

  The blunder might cost three new positions for next year, expected to be
  refilled after cut out by Proposition 13 budget cuts.
I have one remark on the above.

Not only does poor computer usage cause risks to everybody else, I think we
should be concerned about workers who are forced to use unfamiliar systems
and then are held responsible for the damage they did.  Somehow it does not
seem fair, but I believe this is becoming far too common.

San Jose Library

Ken Laws <Laws@SRI-AI.ARPA>
Thu 27 Mar 86 12:36:52-PST
... at the main library and 17 branches. ...

That's $2,000,000 worth of books unaccounted for.  The library usually gets
95% back without sending out reminders, but with the publicity — who knows?
They really can't afford to replace even $100,000 worth, even if they knew
what to replace.

Inter-system crashes

Rich A. Hammond at lafite.UUCP <hammond%lafite@mouton.ARPA>
Thu, 27 Mar 86 08:32:18 est
I worked in a hotel once when they were adding a new wing.  The main water
and electricity systems had to be turned off to connect the new wing.
Management decided to do both at the same time so there would only be one
interruption in service.  The problem:  Turning off the electric power
caused the emergency generator to come on, but the generator was cooled by
water which came from the main and ran into the drain, i.e., no
recirculation.  Of course there was no water, the generator engine managed
to warp its head pretty badly before we shut it off.

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