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'Backing out of a failed update really ought to be a trivial matter...'

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QuotW This was the week when there was an almighty tech disaster at RBS and Natwest that froze millions out of their bank accounts. Stories abounded of houses lost because sales hadn't gone through, people stuck in prison because their bail hadn't been paid and legions of folks just plain old p***ed off because they couldn't put their hands on their own money.

A day or two would have been FUBAR enough for any "glitch", but the banks' problems rolled into four days and people began to wonder exactly what went so totally horribly wrong to cause that kind of downtime.

Sources told The Register that the error was in a piece of batch scheduling software called CA-7, at least partially run out of India.

A former employee said:

Backing out of a failed update to CA-7 really ought to have been a trivial matter for experienced operations and systems programming staff, especially if they knew that an update had been made. That this was not the case tends to imply that the criticisms of the policy to "off-shore" also hold some water.

Another former employee said:

When they did the back-out, a major error was made. An inexperienced person cleared the whole queue... they erased all the scheduling.

Meanwhile, RBS denied that what was quickly becoming an apocalyptic disaster had anything to do with outsourcing.

However, sources kept coming out of the woodwork to say that RBS's cost-cutting efforts had led to elements of batch scheduling being outsourced to India.

One such source said:

The batch team was about 60 guys... they ran applications that chose the jobs that ran - maintaining the CA-7 schedule, not the CA-7 support... There were no redundancies in the CA-7 team but the batch support were taken down to about 30.

Which RBS continued to deny:

We have been clear we will fully investigate the causes of this incident. We hope people will understand that right now our complete focus is on fixing this problem and helping our customers.

The management and execution of batch processing is carried out in Edinburgh as has been the effort to recover and resolve this issue.

Following Microsoft's terribly late arrival to the tablet party last week, hardware partner Acer claimed it wasn't in the least bothered by the arrival of the Surface.

EMEA boss Oliver Ahrens said the Surface wasn't a competitive threat because its sales would be "superficial". He said:

Microsoft still has a big agenda for improving the user touch experience on Windows 8 and we hope this approach does not defocus them, but from a competitive point of view we are not concerned, not a bit.

Fujitsu is also not bothered by Redmond's move into hardware. Dr Joseph Reger, CTO at Fujitsu Technology Solutions told The Register:

I’m not panicking at all. Two things can happen. It’s successful, and grabs market share and the market is growing.

If it’s not successful, that brings clarity. Then we know the tablet space is a fight between Android and iOS.

In the latest instalment of the Great Patent Wars, there were losses on both sides as US Judge Richard Posner stamped the life out of an Apple v Motorola Mobility case and Apple won a ban from US Judge Lucy Koh on Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1.

Posner had warned the companies already that he found their patent gripes totally annoying and wished they'd cop themselves on (paraphrasing), but this week he followed through, throwing the case out because he said neither company had proved they deserved any damages.

Dissing Apple's arguments, Posner said:

[There is a] danger that Apple’s goal in obtaining an injunction is harassment of its bitter rival...The notion that these minor-seeming infringements have cost Apple market share and consumer goodwill is implausible, has virtually no support in the record, and so fails to indicate that the benefits to Apple from an injunction would exceed the costs to Motorola.

While he gave Moto's pleadings equally short shrift:

How could it be permitted to enjoin Apple from using an invention that it contends Apple must use if it wants to make a cell phone with UMTS telecommunications capability – without which it would not be a cell phone?

The fruity firm won a round in California when Judge Koh granted a preliminary injunction against the Galaxy Tab 10.1, which will be banned once Apple hands over the $2.6m bond and will stay that way until the whole case is over – unless Samsung wins an appeal.

She said:

Although Samsung has a right to compete, it does not have a right to compete unfairly, by flooding the market with infringing products.

Which the Korean giant was none too chuffed with, stating:

Apple sought a preliminary injunction of Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1, based on a single design patent that addressed just one aspect of the product's overall design.

Should Apple continue to make legal claims based on such a generic design patent, design innovation and progress in the industry could be restricted. ®

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