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Spreadsheet Blamed For UK Rail Bid Fiasco 125

First time accepted submitter Bruce66423 writes "As a sometime computer programmer who was always very sniffy about the quality of the stuff being knocked up by amateurs aka power users, the current claim that it was a messed up spreadsheet that caused a multi-million pound fiasco is very satisfying. 'The key mechanism... mixed up real and inflated financial figures and contained elements of double counting.'"
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Spreadsheet Blamed For UK Rail Bid Fiasco

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  • WTF (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ohnocitizen ( 1951674 ) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @12:18PM (#41568743)
    So a sometime programmer likes to think he is better than people who don't know how to program at all? As a fulltime programmer (which apparently puts me higher in the hierarchy) I think that is just a bit silly.
  • by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @12:54PM (#41569181)

    This is the state of rail "privatisation" in the UK today.

    Just to expand on that, "Privatisation" is a UK concept that seeks to combine the efficiency and value for money of government with the social responsibility and long-term vision of big business.

    It's what you get if you spend so much time flip-flopping between socialist and capitalist governments that even the parties forget which is which.

  • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @02:03PM (#41569823) Homepage Journal

    The submitter is suggesting — no, make that "claiming" — that spreadseets are dangerous because they allow "non-professionals" to program. Now, spreadsheets are the original "killer app" for PCs. Huge numbers of CP/M-based systems were sold just to run VisiCalc, and this probably had a lot to do with IBM biting the bullet and getting into the desktop computer business, with results that reverberate to this very day and the forseeable future. Alan Kay, one of the inventors of OOP and GUI, cites spreadsheets as a tool that turn ordinary users into programmers. Attack spreadsheets, and you attack the entire idea of user-centric programming. The submitter's attitude is reminiscint of the pre-Woz era, when you had to negotiate with your programming staff to do even the simplest computing and programmers were known as "High Priests of a Low Cult". There's a lot of room for sarcasm here.

    More than I thought to use. I also could have been sarcastic about the assumption that "hire a pro" is a magic bullet for avoiding fuckups. Really? "Professionals" never make stupid, multimillion-dollar mistakes? Get real.

    "Have somebody check your work" is the applicable lesson here. "Hire a pro and you're safe." is just bullshit.

  • by bpkiwi ( 1190575 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @02:54AM (#41575007)
    Because without some sort of proof of a sound business model, a company can underbid/overbid (underbid on cost, overbid on the fees they will pay the government) just to get into the market. Then they can run the service into the ground, suck any money they can out into 'consulting fees' and other such expenses that end up in the investor's pockets, and then just go bankrupt. The government gets left holding the run down remains, and suddenly all the trains stop.

"You can have my Unix system when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." -- Cal Keegan